December 03, 2007

Amsterdam side trips (Part 1b) – Zaanse Schans (Clogs & cheese)

Continue from here.

There is also a clog maker's workshop, the Klompenmakerij, a workshop, as the name suggests where wooden klompen (clogs) are made. About three million pairs of clogs are still produced yearly, mostly by machines which can churn out a pair of clogs within five minutes, compared to two hours by hand. A block of fresh poplar wood is inserted into the machine which works very much like a key duplicate machine to cut out the shape, followed by creating a hollow in which to fit the foot. The clog is then dried under the sun for four weeks before being smoothen with sandpaper, polished and painted. The photos taken are the making of a pair of clogs to fit a four-year old.

Top: a fresh block of poplar placed into the machine and cut according to the mould
Bottom left: a cut block, bottom right: another machine to cut the inside of the clog

Left: Cutting off excess wood from the front, right: the completed clog in the worker's hand

Dutch people once wore clogs all the time. They were tough (great to prevent injury from cows stepping on your feet while milking) and water-proof (good for walking through muddy and cow-dung ridden fields). Clogs were readily available because they were produced from the poplar tree, a local and plentiful source of wood. Clogs are still a fixture in many farming areas, where they're much more effective against wetness and cold than leather shoes or boots. Those with pointed toes are for women and rounded toes are for men, and they are worn with heavy socks. They are also used for garden work and wall decorations.

On the way to Volendam, we stopped by to visit a typical Dutch farmhouse where cheese is still being made the traditional way.


Esther (from Babyccino) said...

Although in the Netherlands we don't wear clogs on a daily basis anymore, my children (1 and 2) still each have their pair of clogs and they LOVE them! They're easy to put on and of for them, and they make such a funny sound...
Just discovered your site - nice!

A Mom's Diary said...

Thanks for dropping by Esther, and thanks for the compliments. We Chinese have our own version of the clogs too but our are much simpler and basic, not as pretty as those in the Netherlands. You've got a very interesting blog too in babyccino, sharing with three friends.