This section is from the book "The Manufacture Of Boots And Shoes: Being A Modern Treatise Of All The Processes Of Making And Manufacturing Footgear", by F. Y. Golding. Also available from Amazon: The Manufacture Of Boots And Shoes.
The feet of the Scotch are large, flat, and bony. They are somewhat broad toed. The Irish feet are short and chubby. The English have broad feet at the instep and joints, with an inclination to tapering toes. The French have long, high-arched feet, with slim toes. The Spaniard's feet are small with arched insteps, long tapering toes, and small heel-measurement. The German foot is chubby and arched.
Plaster Casts are used to study the various contours of feet, etc., and, to ensure proper deductions, they ought to be properly made, so as to give the relations of the parts and the leg to the foot. A cast may be taken in two ways. The foot to be taken is well greased, and any hairy growth well laid to the skin with the grease used. A mixture of tallow and oil is a good thing for this purpose. A large dish is convenient to use, and three pieces of cork of equal size are provided to place under the ball of the big toe, the outside joint, and the heel of the foot. This is to steady the foot while being cast, and the weight of the person should not be borne on the pieces of cork. A piece of string that has been previously greased is placed down the front of the leg over the instep to the toes. This may be done by using a small portion of paste every two or three inches to fasten the twine temporarily to the bends of the leg and foot. The upper end of the string is brought over the knee and given to the person whose foot is being cast to hold; the other end is carefully laid, without undue tension, in a direct line across the dish. Another thread - greased - is passed under the waist of the foot and carried up both sides of the leg to the knee, and held with the other thread. A thread at the back of the foot is next laid, and the ends left so that they may be easily used to separate the plaster when nearly set. The last thread is placed round the foot, from the heel at back along each side of the edge of the foot. Superfine plaster of Paris is added to about a pint and a half of water until of a thick creamy consistency, and carefully placed under the foot, care being taken not to disturb the pasted strings. While the plaster is setting, it must be piled up round the foot, keeping it of even thickness without displacing the threads. When the plaster is nearly set, the threads are drawn carefully, so as to cut through it, making a divided mould. The mould is then removed from the foot and put together, ready for producing the cast. This is a quick method of taking a mould, and is sometimes useful to resort to when lasts have to be made to feet that are something out of proportion. A better method for taking a cast for experimental studies is to take it in stages in a properly constructed box.