McDonald man uses recycled material to form handmade sandals from scratch

Hip-E-Beads sandals. (Image: WTVC)

Elmer Earls' artistic side shined bright starting in elementary school.

"Bows and arrows, things nobody showed me. I just knew what I wanted and I tried," says Elmer.

It wasn't until after his Hip-E-Beads shop opened up that found his true calling.

"My wife had bought me a pair of sandals and I wore them out. Couldn't find more. And I said, 'I can make those.' So I started making those," says Elmer.

25 years later, he says he's learned more than just how to perfect the ultimate lasting sandals, but also developing relationships.

"Talking to people is therapy, so the thing is the more I talk, the better I feel and if I can get you to laugh and cut up, hey it makes ya feel a whole lot better," says Elmer.

What makes his shoes unique is the material he uses for the bottom of each shoe. "That's just perfect for a pair of sandals," he says.

Using a rivet press, he starts his shoemaking process by clamping each rivet to leather straps.

"The rivets have got to go in from the bottom side because if we don't it leaves asharp burs."

He eventually forms a skeleton of the sandal, and plasters a thin coat of cement glue to the bottom to bond the two layers together.

Once he's finished gluing, it's back to the rivet press, this time to attach the bottom layer - a rubber tire.

He gathers the used, abandoned tires wherever he can find them and finishes his shaping with a saw.

The last touch - sanding around the edges.

Elmer says with every sandal starts a blossoming relationship and ends with someone's signature on his wall.

"It's people I've met over the years, they become like family," says Elmer.

He sells his sandals at his store, and can be reached through the Facebook link by clicking here.

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