One of the most original items to take back home from Amsterdam are clogs, Holland's traditional wooden shoes. Clogs date as far back as 1367, probably even older, and have been worn as daily footwear ever since. In Holland's wet and cold climate, only clogs will keep your feet dry and warm at all times. And they're more comfortable than you would think! You can find a large variety in clogs and see clog making and clog painting at De Klompenboer.
Clogs are made of balsa-white poplar wood. The trees are especially grown for this purpose. For a perfect pair of clogs y you need fresh, wet wood, cut in square blocks. The wood is then chopped and smoothed in the right shape. To last a long time, finished clogs are painted. Traditional clogs are painted yellow with a red pattern. Each village used to have its own pattern. Nowadays clogs for daily wear are still yellow and red and souvenir clogs are painted in a large variety y of patterns and colours, varying from flowers to entire street scenes.
There is a kind of fashion in clog patterns: this summer tourists seem to be particularly fond of black and white clogs in a 'cow pattern’. Apart from storing lots of sorts of clogs and exhibiting a large variety of antique clogs, at the 'Klompenboer', Mrs. Jonker, demonstrates clog painting on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Traditional craftsman Bruno Jonker will show you how to make the perfect clog on request. But even more interesting, he can tell you everything you always wanted to know about clogs. Ask for his version of the history of bridal clogs!
As regular footwear you can still see farmers and construction workers wearing clogs.
Although the last group is wearing thin right now: when writing up its regulations for safety footwear, the European Union forgot to include clogs. However, they have acknowledged their error and soon clogs will once again be recognized as extremely safe footwear for working conditions. They are actually 50 safe that for a long time the iron melting industry in IJmuiden supplied their employees with clogs, since they were the only kind of footwear through which the spilt red-hot fluid metal didn't burn the feet. Custom made clogs was also produced for the men who built Holland's dykes: by
making the instep round instead of the usual hollow shape, the workers could use there clogs as a lever to lift stones with a crowbar. However, since the dykes have been built and the melting-furnaces have been modernized; these varieties of clogs are not produced anymore. The majority of the clogs you will see in Amsterdam's city center are generally made for tourist purposes and come in all sizes and colours.