In 2013, Flori’s first huge shoe carving was on temporary display at a local business that specializes in custom paint schemes for footwear, as well as at Tropicana Field as part of a 5K run, said Flori.
His second shoe, recently finished, is an eight-foot and three-inch tall Adidas model, the wood of which came from a tree harvested out of a yard in Pinellas County, he said. The shoe was recently on display outside the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg from June 30 to July 3. It was then moved to its current location in front of the Wagon Wheel Flea Market in Pinellas Park.
Flori says his process includes research with people-sized shoes at local malls, a projection machine to maintain scale from his reference photos on tree trunks and logs, and then power tools. For instance, a drill is used to make pilot holes for each 3-D detail in the intricate sole patterns. Next, he uses a corded electric or a 36-volt, battery-powered chainsaw to do the carving.
His third huge tennis shoe, now in production, will be based on a “classic, slip-on, checkerboard Vans design,” he said. “My first slip-ons were a black pair and that was the most comfortable shoe I ever had.”
When his chainsaw-carved shoes are not on loan for display, they are located at Anderson Lumber near the city limits of Gulfport. Flori also carves naturalistic furniture with his chainsaw which is sold through Anderson Lumber.
Flori says his plans for the future include teaching chainsaw carving techniques and leading advanced students on field trips to learn about sourcing wood. But his ultimate artistic dream?
“I want to produce training videos for PBS.”