Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do you have a specialty?
    Our specialty is not in the kinds of shoes we make (we make them all). It is in our approach.We teach students about the creative process and how to access their creative gifts, both mental and physical. We guide, we push, we pull, we motivate, we repeat, we reframe — anything to enable each student to access the secret fire that all craftsmen know. We believe in our students. Given the right environment, they are all amazing! Our overriding goal is to create a true shoemaking space.
  • Do I need special qualifications or experience to attend your school?
    You do not need any special skill qualifications. However, you need to be excited about shoes and ready to work. Our school is designed to be an authentic shoemaking experience. Our students learn to make their shoes from pattern making to polishing. Some schools just teach the basics. Some schools just have their students assemble components. WE TEACH SHOEMAKING. Our experience has been that properly taught and motivated students want more than the basics and soon figure it out when they’re in a “cookie cutter” course. In a nutshell, we expect more from our students than they think they can give, and they always make it over the bar……always!! If you want to just assemble pre-made components, our school is not for you.
  • Do I need to prepare in any way before I come to B&W? No. Teaching you the principles of  sewing and discussing how a sewing machine work are some of the first elements of most of our shoe making courses. At that time you will be given a list of shoe terms and definitions. After your pre-school interview, I may suggest reading. Each student is given an extensive bibliography after the course, but we are glad to forward it after registration if requested. If reading a driver’s manual can get you a driver’s license, just think what a couple of hours preparation can do for your shoemaking. Sewing “Boot Camp” has been incorporated into our routine days during our courses.  If you have access to a sewing machine, we suggest that you take the thread and bobbin out and use lined paper to practice sewing straight lines. (See: Why Choose Bonney and Wills, and Sewing Boot Camp)
  • Do you accept a deposit and payments?  We realize that the initial fee may be difficult for some people to pay all at once, so we do accept deposits and payments.   A $500.00 deposit will hold your place in the class of your choosing with the balance due two weeks prior to the beginning of the course.    Deposits are subject to the cancellation policy listed below under “Is tuition refundable?”.
  • Is tuition refundable?
    We are a well recognized facility that keeps class size small for the benefit of the students.  Please take into consideration any personal events and/or health issues that may affect your attendance.  If you need to cancel your class 61 days or more before the date there will be a cancellation fee of $150.00.  31 days to 60 prior there is a cancellation fee of $500.00 and 30 days or less there will be no refunds given; however, if we have a waiting list and are able to fill your vacancy your tuition may be refunded minus $500.00.  We will allow you to switch course dates once and require 30 days written notice if you would like to change.  There is a $150.00 administration fee to make a change and a strict “No Refund” policy if you must cancel.
  • How refined will my shoes be?
    With 44 years of creative shoemaking behind us, we can assure you that your shoes will be the very best you can make at your present skill level. Take a look at our student’s work. We know that sewing is the big hill for some, and all of our sewing machines are adjusted to run very, very slowly (they go slower than Julie’s home machine) and we give you ample time to practice. As a matter of fact, all our equipment and tools are geared toward students. Our shop is incredibly well equipped (we have thirteen sewing machines),  Along with tailoring our teaching to each student’s learning style, we offer multiple techniques for each operation. (See: Shoemaking Philosophy and Teaching Methods, and Photos)
  • Do I have to make a standard design?
    Now that wouldn’t be any fun!!!Shoemaking is all about creativity. While we ask you to stick to the style of shoe that will be made during the course you have registered for, we strongly encourage you to combine different colors or textures to create a one of a kind shoe.  If your drive and skills warrant it, and there is enough time, we will guide you to your goal. And, we’ll make sure you acquire the needed skills along the way. This commitment is a little hard on the instructor (me) but it lights the fire in students; that’s what its all about.
  • Who attends Bonney and Wills?
    Perhaps just a few examples will help: high school senior project student, financial advisor, Dutch shoe designer, cowboy, motel owner, senior health care provider, theater and fashion design students, theater arts instructor, photographer, Native American elder etc. They all have a common thread….they LOVE shoes!
  • Do you use CAD?
    Short answer? No! Learn how to make shoes, and then see if a computer can help you. It doesn’t work the other way around!!
  • Do you offer financial assistance?
    We accept all credit cards. Our fees are among the lowest and our quality unsurpassed. And, we’ll work with students any way possible. We live by the credo: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” And, we have appeared as economically as we can.
  • Do I need to bring any tools?
    No. It has been shown that craftsmen usually use the tools they start with their entire career. Many times they are of poor quality and their work suffers. We expose you to the best, and help you locate and purchase them. (See: Why Choose Bonney and Wills)
  • Do you provide room and board?
    We do not offer room and board, but our location is within walking distance to downtown Ashland where many dining opportunities exist. We also assist students in finding lodging by providing a list of local accommodations. (See: Why Choose Bonney and Wills)
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