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The Shoeshiner

The shoeshine profession is one of slowness, pause, attention and care. Eleonora also chose it for these values, as well as because of her great passion for shoes.

“I don't do shoeshine, I am a shoeshiner. I chose to become one by following a real and personal drive: my interest in footwear and love for artists who work with their hands”.

Eleonora's approach to craftsmanship was gradual and self-taught: “I learned, a little at a time, trying to retrieve as much information as possible online, but shoeshine being a profession of the past, it's not easy to find material. I have collected testimonies, stories, photos that come from all over the world”.

The attention and care with which Eleonora takes care of her clients denotes her great love for her work and for shoes, which she considers much more than just objects. “The shoe is a business card” which acts as “a historical witness, especially if its splendour is maintained for many years. Moreover for me it often becomes an almost symbolic object. I find it has great value because it reflects the personality of a person, it is always with you and supports you every day, takes you around the world to live through who knows what experiences”.

That world of footwear is a very serious one for Eleonora, and that's why she has built up her way of working with great attention. All the tools and products she uses are chosen from Italian artisans, who, like her, make their crafts a vocation and an art. Among the work items there are precious brushes in horn and coconut made in the Veneto, products for polishing from Genoa, a hand-stitched apron and a stand designed by Eleonora and built by a carpenter especially for her. “For me it is a true philosophy: I look for products made by people like me who want to carry on Italian craftsmanship. Knowing that these things were made by hand makes me even more proud”. Among those pieces close to her heart, there is also her stool, made by her companion, a lucky charm that marked the start of her professional career.

It is a seemingly simple job, that of Eleonora, but in the rituality of her gestures there is something magical. “First of all the laces are removed, then the shoe must be brushed to remove the dust and be cleaned thoroughly. Each shoe must receive the specific care that will bring it back to its original splendour. With the next step, waxing, the previous wax is removed. With the application of a cleansing milk, stains are eliminated and at the same time the leather is nourished. Finally, we look for the most similar colour to treat the shoe with a suitable cream”. A slow and precise job, which sometimes also requires relaxation times to give the leather the chance to come back to life like new.

“I like to look to the past rather than the future and I hope to provide a means to keep alive and give new energy to this ancient trade”. But Eleonora has no intention of passing on her art to students and enthusiasts: “It isn't a question of jealousy. For me it makes no sense to set down a repeatable technique. My work is a very intimate matter, a way to be alone with myself. It relaxes me doing shoeshine, it's almost a Zen experience”. Eleonora's intent is to revive, with a new allure, an almost forgotten profession and, to give anyone the opportunity to experience the relaxing and rejuvenating experience of a shoe shine service, which Eleonora takes around village fairs and events in the town squares.



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