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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