Moss for your sole

Last week, after a little brainstorming on the aesthetic and style of the moss shoe,  I followed my teachers advise to get a pair of Birkenstocks and try to latch moss onto those. I ordered some pairs of shoes online (luckily found cheap offers) so I had to wait for a few days. Until I waited for the shoes, I talked to many moss/nature enthusiast and did research on possible solutions. From those discussions, it turns out that moss needs a rather smooth surface to latch onto, such as rock moss does with rocks, or the soil has to be an even large piece, (at least as big as the moss piece itself). Also, a lot of the moss that comes from stores, if moss is disconnected, the roots die. To de-attach the moss, it would take weeks, if not months. Which is time I do not have right now until the final. By not wanting to be discouraged and still wanting to play around with this idea, I still decided to make some prototypes/tryouts. From those I have already determined the type of moss that should be used and some other pointers.

With the white Birkenstocks I created a grid from fishing line, that I attached to the sole with hot glue. Then I weaved Green Moss through the grid. Aesthetically I really liked the look, I think the colors and the look is something I am aspiring for (even though I would not do the straps like Birkenstocks, maybe).

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Walking on this moss was fun, but at the same time not the best. The Green Moss, although with a beautiful color, is without roots so it is pretty flakey. Although the majority of it stuck really well to the shoe, there would be an almost invisible trail of green moss flakes left behind. It also gave color to my feet as my feet would moist the moss. The preserved green moss is slightly artificially tinted. Otherwise I thought it was fun, I could feel a little of the fishing line, but I wasn’t bothered by it as much as the flakey little parts of the moss. The feeling of the moss is very pleasing, therapeutic and grounding.

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As the moss was flakey, I wanted to try a different type of moss. Which is Sheet Moss. It comes in layers and has dried roots underneath. Sheet Moss is what the Terrarium shopman also recommended. This time I also put soil at the bottom of the sole (i only did one shoe, to leave the other for further testing). The soil I used, was moist, so it packed into the shoe really well. I read online that rock moss is sometimes transferred from one rock to other by using glue until it latches on (which takes months 🙁 ). So i a glued the moss onto the soil, just for attachment until it maybe latches onto it. Until now it hasn’t latched on. Because the soil was moist, everything sticks in the shoe well and I enjoyed walking on this moss a lot more than the other one as it does not flake. Also this moss has a crispy sound effect to it. The feeling is again pleasing, connective to nature and grounding. I am able to turn the shoe upside down without anything coming out. But that is because of the soil being moist still. Maybe in a few days, when it dries more, it would fall out ? Or the moss would keep it in put ? Maybe put fishing line over it so it doesn’t fall out?
The good thing is that by wearing the shoes and watering the moss, the soil would also keep somewhat moist, but I am not sure yet if moist enough to still be in the shoe.


Another idea is to try to but the soil in the shoe (sandals have a nice arch inside the sole that it can be damped in) and make a grid out of fishing line on top of the soil and somehow weave the Sheet Moss through the grid (if that’s doable)… But I still don’t think this would be the ultimate solution. But maybe i’ll try that next?

Another option that I have been looking into, but fall short for time for actually making sure it works is Moss Graffiti. It is a method where moss is blended with buttermilk/yogurt, water and sugar, and then pained on a surface ( brick, rock, cork, potentially Birkenstock sole). It makes sense in the terms that moss carries it’s ‘seeds’ within the body itself. Now based on research and forums, the success of this is unclear. There are cool images and instructions online about it, but there is no real proof that it works. I talked to Emmanuelle’s friend (who calls himself a moss-lover) today who has tried it and he said that it was a fail from his experience. But he is also not sure why it was a fail, maybe the recipe he found wasn’t right or maybe also because he wasn’t patient enough, and only waited for a few weeks when it could take a few months to grow. Although intrigued, I am still hesitant to put moss into my new blender.. and also it will probably not grow anything by next week if it works, so would it be worth it ? If this actually worked, It would create a beautiful carpet of moss that is actually attached to the shoe itself.

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I am thinking how to make sure that the soil just stays moist in the shoe, so it sticks into the shoe itself and also keeps the moss alive on it’s own. A built in water-pump system in the shoe ? Access to the soil from the bottom of the shoe to water it ?

I talked to Ella on Friday, and she actually recommended me to buy a bunch of cheap sandals, break them apart and design my own shoe altogether. I did go to Payless show today and got a few 10dollar sandals in which I liked this and that, but didn’t get to actually mixing them.. Should I spend my last week on that ?

I have also been thinking that even from this experience, some kind of sensor in the shoe indicating the moisture level would be really beneficial. But as the parts for this are rather large, I would still need to construct completely new shoe…

At this point, I am not completely sure what to focus on for the final presentation. And I do want use my last week on this as efficiently as possible. At this state I am well aware that this process should have been happening much earlier so all of my questions would be answered by now. But for now, how to proceed?  Which one of my thoughts should I proceed testing with. And what should be my focus on the final presentation itself ? The whole journey, current state and future, which has a lot more work in it ?

The experience I aim to create is clear: grounding shoes with a rituality by taking care of the moss and soil. Walking on moss and soil feels grounding, but how to make sure that it also becomes sustainable on it’s own and with the care of the owner.

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