Evolution of a Foot

A little adventure in design:

One of our little projects in Berlin has been figuring out how to forge a foot. One of Henni’s friends is making a chest for the final project in his woodworking apprenticeship. He’s been inspired by The Luggage from Terry Pratchet’s Discworld series, so he asked her to help make a few feet for his box.

A foot, right? How hard can that be? It’s just got toes and a heel and an ankle. We made some quick sketches and then went to the forge. We were hoping to whip out something simple and nifty, out of one piece of metal to show off our real blacksmithery panache… I wish I had a picture of the bizarre thing that came out of our first session, because it bore some distant relation to a foot — one could surmise that it was an evolutionary precursor to the foot, but became quickly obsolete due to a distinct lack of footliness. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t good either.

So, back to the drawing board. Looking at our first sketches, we asked what went wrong?

Did you know your foot is actually a really complicated shape? I mean, it’s not just a club at the end of your leg. There’s toes and a ball, an arch, the heel has mass and the leg is, well, leggy. It has a definite and different shape from almost every angle, from tapers to balls, to gatherings of mass at the joints, and a few odd angles.

More sketches. We started to pull away from the nifty flowing ironwork, which was clearly difficult to pull off. Instead, we explored the shapes that define the foot. There are triangles and circles and broad planes. Put them together using a few simple pieces…

Finally we had an idea. Approximately one solid evening at the smithy to hammer out the prototype. Soaked in vinegar and then waxed:

A nice abstraction of a foot.

Quite handsome from the back as well!

Now we just need to make five more!

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