A shoe horn made of real cattle horn. Measures 10 inches long, polished by hand. For putting on your best shoes without crushing the heel. Made without plastics or veneers, in a workshop in Denmark since 1935. (
Few shoe horns are made from actual horn, let alone embedded in a 200-year-old history of Denmark's artisans, two economic crises, one World War, two incapacitating accidents and one visionary entrepreneur.
Captured during the Peninsular War in the early 1800s, a Danish man learned the art of making spoons from horn as a prisoner in England. Upon his return home, he began a small business producing a variety of handmade hornware, inspiring many fellow Danes to take up the craft.
Today, the horns are still cut and polished by hand in a wooden-floored workshop in Denmark. Dozens of horn spoons and prototypes hang from the cork board walls. The horns come from Watussi and Ankole cows in Nigeria, Africa, as well as some Danish cattle, none of which belong to protected categories of bovine. The horns arrive at the workshop de-cored, meaning they've been hollowed and sanitized in boiling water.
The artisans use about 5 to 7 tons of raw horn per year, which is about 5 to 7 tons of horn otherwise burned by abattoirs, who simply don't know what else to do with them. They each carry a unique and inimitable display of color and texture. There is nothing whatsoever added in the process.
A shoe horn should help, not hinder, the putting on of shoes. It's a tool especially appropriate for fine footgear, waxy wingtips, leather loafers, and heels you don't want to harm.
Place the blade of the shoe horn against the "counter"—the back—of the shoe. Insert the tip of your foot into the front of the shoe, and place your heel against the blade of the shoe horn. Using your heel, push down the blade of the shoe horn. Making use of the smooth polish on the shoe horn, slip comfortably into the shoe. If you have joint problems, the longer the shoehorn, the less you will have to bend over.
Clean your horn items in lukewarm running water without soap or solvents. Dry off the items directly. Never put the shoe horn in dishwater or soak it in a tub. Because the horn is a natural material, leaving it submerged in fluids, jams, slads and dressings will cause corrosion. Avoid leaving the shoe horn in direct sunlight or near heat sources.
There are approximately 18 work processes involved in the manufacturing of a shoe horn.
The first is the selecting, since not all horns are suitable for shoe horn making. The horn cannot have any visible defects like cracks or holes and must conform to certain dimensional requirements depending on the shape of the horn in question.
Also, the raw horn cannot be too dull i.e. there should be some visual play of colors.
Next, the outline of the shoe horn is drawn onto its surface and sawed out of the piece using a band saw. Next is “rubbing” where the horn is ground to a uniform thickness using very coarse sandpaper.
The horn is then shaped by being lowered into hot oil for a few minutes. When the horn becomes soft as leather, it is placed in a vice to bend it appropriately.
The horn is then sanded, starting with very coarse sandpaper and progressing to the finest grains. Once the spoon’s form is perfected, it is polished using a cloth buffer. This gives the horn the high-gloss finish.
The polished horn is cleaned to remove dust and polishing agents, and checked for any grind marks or imperfections.
The company that makes this shoe horn is the only arts and crafts business in Denmark still using horn for their products. The factory itself dates back to 1935, and the present workshop was built in 1947.
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