Dutch people used to wear wooden shoes back in the 13th century. But wooden shoes are not as common today as they used to be in The Netherlands. Dutchmen nowadays prefer wearing more comfortable footwear than their traditional wooden shoes.
The Dutch wooden shoes were popular footwear in the past. It is the reason why some people think that Dutch still wear them even today.
However, very few people wear traditional wooden shoes now. More comfortable and affordable shoes are available, ideal for the current Dutch lifestyle.
Yet, there are still farmers in The Netherlands wearing traditional wooden shoes. Farmers opt to wear these shoes because they are great for work. The shoes are good to wear on wet and soggy farmland due to their water-resistant quality.
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What are Dutch wooden shoes called?
Dutch people call their wooden shoes ‘klomp’ or ‘klompen.’ The term became popular in medieval times. Klomp can protect the whole foot because they were made entirely from wood.
During the 13th century, wooden shoes became in demand among workers. Jobs requiring physical labor like farmers and artisans wore the shoes for work. The shoes can keep their feet warm even during winters.
More than that, the design of the wooden shoes during that time varies according to the type of job. Farmers wore larger and square-defined tips on their wooden shoes. The style was great for working on wetlands preventing them from sinking through the mud.
Fishers, on one side, preferred sharper and pointy tips as they help get rid of fishing wires. Others would keep their clogs simple and undecorated for work.
Wooden shoes were valuable footwear among the working class. These traditional shoes became a huge aspect of their lives as they used them for protection at work. The Dutch wooden shoes were also affordable and ideal to use for any season.
What kind of wood are Dutch shoes made of?
Highly durable and sturdy materials are vital in making traditional Dutch wooden shoes. The European willow, alder, poplar, and birch are the preferred wood for clog-making.
There are specific qualities of wood required when making wooden shoes. The wood should not splinter and must resist splitting. The wood should be excellent in absorbing moisture, lightweight, and can keep the feet dry.
Alder or sycamore is the best wood used for making shoes. It is easy to shape, light, and very sturdy. You can work with the wood even if it is wet. Right after cutting the wood, it is ready for clog-making.
On one side, some use ash wood in making wooden shoes. The wood is ideal for making dancing clogs. The material content found in ashwood is light and provides bounce when dancing.
The woods mentioned were the most preferable among artisans. People call the craftsmen or clog-makers ‘bodgers’ or ‘bodging.’ They are highly skilled woodturners who can create unique pieces out of wood.
What color are Dutch clogs?
The Dutch wooden shoes are traditionally plain or in yellow color. However, since the shoes are a souvenir item today, you can see them in multi-colors. They also have patterns of windmills and tulips to make the shoes more marketable.
Today, you can see Dutch wooden shoes in various colors when you visit tourists shops in Holland. You will never have difficulty searching for clogs since they are abundant in major cities of the country.
If you want something with more unique designs, you can visit stores in The Hague and Rotterdam. They have wide-range of selections of wooden shoes you can choose from. The Dutch Clog Shop in the North Brabant has great designs, as well.
When did people stop wearing wooden shoes?
Dutch stopped wearing wooden shoes when more comfortable and fashionable footwear became available. Some find them uncomfortable and not suitable to wear today.
Nevertheless, the Dutch wooden shoes became one of the country’s most iconic symbols. You would rarely see people wear traditional wooden shoes. But, its popularity among tourists never declined.
Travelers look for Dutch wooden shoes when visiting The Netherlands. In this manner, the production of wooden shoes did not stop even though fewer people wore them.
Based on the report by AFP, the country manufactures 300,000 Dutch wooden shoes every year. Almost 75% of these shoes are from the Nijhuis Klompen. The largest wooden shoe factory in the Netherlands is Nijhuis Klompen.
These shoes produced in The Netherlands are basically for souvenirs. They manufacture clogs for foreign visitors and travelers.
In case you visit The Netherlands, here are some of the famous places where you can buy wooden shoes:
- Zaanse Schans
- Dutch Clog Museum
Zaanse Schans is one of the top destinations in The Netherlands. The place is a favorite spot because of windmills, cheese, and wooden shoes. If you want to see artisans make wooden shoes, this is the area you should visit.
You can reach Zaanse Schans from Amsterdam in about 17 minutes via train. The boat is also available for transportation.
Another must-visit place in the country is Simonehoeve. It is near Amsterdam where you can experience traditional clog-making. You can also try cheese tasting, wine tasting, and trying out some Dutch biscuits.
If you want to know everything about clogs, you should pay a visit to the Dutch Clog Museum. You can find the museum in the north of the Netherlands in Eelde. Here you can learn more about this traditional footwear and its long-standing history.
Are wooden shoes bad for you?
Wearing wooden shoes on a day-to-day basis is bad for you. Wooden shoes have thick and hard soles that can contribute to several foot and toe problems. It destabilizes your main foot arch causing immediate and long-term foot discomfort.
The traditional wooden shoes have unfavorable designs that can harm your foot. There are claims that they cause toe deformities and immobilize your foot joints. Other problems caused by wearing wooden shoes are hallux valgus, hammertoes, and bunions.
The following features in wooden shoes and even modern-day clogs can harm your foot and toes in the long run:
- Extremely rigid soles
- Heel elevation
- Tapering toe boxes
- Toe spring
Clogs came from wood. They come in extremely thick and hard soles that can give huge discomfort to your foot. With this kind of rigidness, your foot has no flexibility to move or even breathe inside.
Also, rigid soles can hold your feet and toes in a distorted and painful position. The soles can compromise the natural form or structure of your feet. If you do not use protective foot covering like socks, you might get splinters using wooden shoes. The hardness of the wood can damage sensitive skin.
We are all aware that high heels are very uncomfortable to wear. Clogs come in high heel elevation that can destabilize your foot’s natural form. Heels give pressure on the foot arch forcing it to stretch more than needed. The heels can both impair the nerves and bones of your foot.
If you wear shoes with high heel elevation, it can increase the possibility of having an ankle sprain. High heels are not stable, causing you to move from side to side. You will find a hard time getting your balance on shoes with elevated heels.
People prefer wearing shoes with wide-toe boxes. They believe that toe boxes are comfortable for the toes and good for the foot. For wooden shoes, the case is different.
Clogs normally have the widest design at the ball of the foot and narrowest at the tip of the toes. With this design, your toes cannot splay when you walk. It would help if you chose footwear that allows your toes to sit and spread properly inside.
Tapering toe boxes combined with high heel elevation can place too much pressure on your foot. It compromises the natural anatomy of your foot, where you can experience excessive discomfort.
Toe spring is another design feature you can find on wooden shoes. The design elevates your toes above the forefoot. In this manner, it can intentionally distort the natural state of your foot arch. It can also place too much pressure on the ball of your foot.
Toe spring in wooden shoes can extend your toes excessively. This kind of design can contribute to foot tendon imbalances causing pain in the long run. When used long-term, you can have toe deformities called crooked toes.
How are wooden shoes made in Holland?
Dutch wooden shoes were traditionally handmade. Creating wooden shoes by hand is a laborious process, and only a few craftsmen practice it. Thus, it became one of the Dutch intangible cultural heritage.
Today, manufacturing wooden shoes requires a machine. The machine speeds up the process of carving out the wood and shaping it to the standard shape. The clog maker finalizes the product by polishing and designing the wooden shoes.
There are two machines required for making wooden shoes. The first machine deals with the exterior part of the shoes, while the other one has the product’s insides.
Both machines need molders that help shape and resize the wood. The clog maker inserts a piece of wood basically from a poplar or willow tree. The wood should be wet so that the chisel of the machine can run smoothly.
For the insides of the shoes, the clog maker moves the machine and lets the chisels run around the wood. Once the machine achieved the right shape and size of the shoe, cutting and modeling followed.
For the next process, the clog-maker inspects the wood and the cutting quality. If satisfied, the clog-maker will hang the wood pieces and let them dry before sanding.
Normally, the clogs need two weeks to dry under the sun. Then, the clog maker will smoothen the wood. It is important to remove the excess wood on the edges of the shoe. It makes the shoe lighter and the surface smoother.
The maker can use sandpaper to smoothen the surface of the shoes. Once satisfied, the wooden shoes are now ready for painting and designing.
For the design part, paint color or varnish are essential. Some would hand paint it with windmills and tulips that are also iconic in the Dutch culture.
After the paint dried up, you can now see the finished product in most tourist shops in The Netherlands. You can also find them in the countryside around Amsterdam for sale. A pair of wooden shoes would cost you around $28.
Dutch wooden shoe is a remarkable symbol in The Netherlands. It does not only represent the working class but the art skills of Dutch people. The wooden shoes have a huge contribution to the cultural heritage of the country.
It showcases the fine art and impressive craftsmanship of the Dutch. Moreover, it demonstrates how the country value this old tradition of shoe-making. Even though very few people wear wooden shoes, its cultural value remains alive.
The colorful wooden shoes today manifest Dutch’ appreciation of their heritage. Wooden shoes are still a huge part of Dutch culture.