Snowshoe Design

The basic design of wooden snowshoes hasn’t changed much in the last few centuries.  A single strip of wood is either soaked in hot water or steamed to give it a bendy property which can be moulded into the basic shape of the shoe.  As the shoe will be subjected to severe weathers, terrains and prolonged use, it is essential that the wood used contains no knots and has a good grain.  Once the wooden strip has been bended to the desired shape, it is then dried in a hot room or kiln.  This process can take up to seven days, depending on the size of the shoe and the wood used.  Once the shoe has completely dried out, it is then laced with rawhide.  The area of the shoe that carries the largest load is the centre part of the shoe and this is the area that requires a heavier lacing.  Most designs use green hide, where the fat, fur and meat have been totally removed, but the drying process has not yet begun.  Lacing with this rawhide means it dries on the frame and eventually tightens and holds the shoe together more effectively.  Native Americans perfected this art and different tribes would have their own intricate designs and tribal colours.

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