Forgotten Crafts: Clog maker

The Dutch are famous for their yellow clogs. Centuries ago, it was indeed the most popular footwear in The Netherlands. This was mainly because it was the most sensible footwear imaginable in a land that mainly consists of swampy, muddy soil. Only people in the cities with paved roads would venture out on leather shoes. Anywhere else wearing leather shoes was the best way to either get your feet soaked in minutes or break your neck on the slippery mud puddles.

Clogs had many advantages over shoes. They kept your feet cool in summer and, with a little straw in them, warm in winter. They gave you grip on slippery surfaces and above all kept your feet dry. No wonder people wore them all the time. There were many different types according to the region and their function. There were working clogs, wedding clogs, church clogs, everyday clogs, mourning clogs, etcetera.

Therefore, if you wanted a steady income, becoming a clog maker was a very good idea indeed. In the 1800s, every town had at least one and often several clog makers. The profession was usually handed down from father to son through the generations. Even today, still over 5,000 people carry the surname Klomp as a reference to their ancestor's occupation.

In the 1900s, roads became paved in the Netherlands on a grand scale and farming became less and less important. Along with it, the need for clogs diminished and many clog makers went out of business.

Today clogs are still worn, mostly by farmers. However, these are made in clog factories. Seeing a real clog maker at work is now reserved only to museums and fairs.