How to Make Cork Shoes

by Annie Wang

Cork is a common material used for shoes, because it is inherently springy and absorbs shock. Cork is most commonly used for the sole of the shoe, because it is durable, comfortable and allows your feet to breathe. You can make your own cork gladiator-style sandals, which are perfect for spring and summer.

Items you will need

  • 2 thick straps of leather, each at least 3-inches wide and 8-inches long
  • 2 thin straps of leather, each at least 1-inch wide and 12-inches long
  • Cork sheet, at least 10-by-12 inches and 2-inches thick (depending on size of your feet)
  • Rubber sheet the same size as the cork sheet (less than 1/2-inch thick)
  • Tracing paper
  • Super glue
  • Scissors
  • Exacto Knife
  • Flat leather studs (at least 10)
Step 1

Step onto the tracing paper and trace your feet. Step off the paper and then draw a larger sole shape around the tracing of your feet.

Step 2

Cut out the sole-shaped image from the tracing paper with scissors. Place on top of the cork sheet and trace the shapes onto the cork.

Step 3

Cut out the cork soles with an Exacto Knife.

Step 4

Place the cork soles on top of the rubber sheet. Trace and cut out rubber soles that mirror the cork soles.

Step 5

Glue the rubber sole onto the bottom of the cork soles. This will provide traction and durability.

Step 6

Step onto the cutout cork soles. Take the thicker leather strap and draw it horizontally across your foot, covering the top of your foot right below the toes. Tuck the excess underneath your foot, and mark in pencil where the leather tucks underneath.

Step 7

Insert the leather studs through the cork and the leather where it tucks underneath the foot on each side, using as many as needed. These will be hidden beneath your foot when you are wearing your sandals.

Step 8

Repeat with the other shoe. Cut any excess leather with scissors. Now you should have two soles with a strap coming across the top of your foot, near your toes.

Step 9

Place the thinner leather strap on the sole where the center of the heel of your foot would be. Distribute the thinner leather strap so its length is exactly equal on each side of the sole.

Step 10

Insert a leather stud in the middle of the length of thinner leather strap, punching it through the cork sole. Repeat on the other side.

Step 11

Insert your foot into the shoe. Using the thinner straps, cross them over the top of your foot to form an X. Draw the straps behind your foot and knot.

About the Author

Based in Chicago, Annie Wang has been writing since 2008. Her work has appeared in World Architecture News and other online publications. She holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and art history from the University of California, Davis.