# Intersections - mathematics and the shoemaker

- Cambridge Mathematics
- Mathematical salad
- Intersections - mathematics and the shoemaker

### 02 February 2018

**Isabella Mars is a shoemaker specialising in aerial boots and gaiters for performers. She runs her own business in London.**

**How would you characterise your current work? **

I am an independent designer & maker of shoes and aerial boots including pattern design, cutting and grading.

**How do you feel about maths? **

I never used to like it too much in school and always thought that I wouldn’t need most of what I’ve learned in my future life. But this view changed over time and I now appreciate it very much in my everyday work!

**What is it about your work that is mathematical? **

There is quite a bit about my work that is mathematical. The first step in making shoes or boots is to draw a pattern and to do this I need to work with measurements of the foot and leg. And the most important part is that the pattern is 2 dimensional and is used to create a 3 dimensional object. I also work with different measurement units, like centimetres, inches, feet, square metres and square feet and I have to convert them as needed.

**How do you use maths, calculation or numeracy in your work? What tools do you use to help you? **

I take customers’ foot and leg measurements, using a tape measure. There is also a lot of calculating involved in drawing out a pattern because it only represents half of the shoe or boot, on lace-up boots even less. So I use a ruler to measure the pattern width and multiply accordingly. When creating a pair of high heel or platform shoes it is important that they are constructed using a right angle (no tipping too much forward or back). This is controlled with what is called a steel square or framing square. Also the platform/heel ratio always needs to be kept the same at any height, so both are measured and cut to required height before attaching.

**Do you think maths is creative? If so, how? **

I think so, because it can be used to create. For example I think that the work I do is very creative and I wouldn’t be able to do it without maths. In effect, maths is right at the centre of this creative process.

**Do you use or rely on any maths that you learnt in school? **

I use and very much rely on the basics, like calculating, multiplying but also a good deal of geometry.

**How would you change the school curriculum, if you had the chance? Why? **

Maths in school always felt as something very abstract. And therefore I thought that it has nothing to do with me, my everyday life or my future work life. I would have liked to apply maths in practical, everyday life or work examples. It is treated as something “lifeless” and just needs to be brought to life, which I think is really easy as it is used in so many different ways