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Jon Gray the shoemaker came to Ontario and I got a pair of... - Page 2

post #16 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by mktitsworth View Post
Please keep us informed of when this pops up, as it looks like it would be interesting information to have.
I'll do it...although I might add that three (of eight) volumes of Golding are already on the HCC website for download. They, of course, are in the public domain, and readily available on Google(?) in a straight scan/bitmap version. The version on the HCC homepage is scanned and recognized and internally linked and doesn't have any of the obscuring artifacts that sometimes accompany a simple scan. Still free for all.
post #17 of 124
Thread Starter 
Right now, the chances of Mr. Gray visiting Ottawa are good. Details are still being worked out.

Since this will be my first pair of bespoke shoes, I'd like the forum's help in drawing up a list of methods and materials that should be used to ensure high-quality, long-lasting shoes. The draft list of requirements below is drawn from various discussions on SF, notably here, here, and here.

(I did not understand everything I read, hence this post.)

Materials
- Vegetable-tanned upper leather.
- Pitt-tanned leather for the lining (full liner), the outsole, the insole, the toe puff, the heel, the heel stiffener, the inside & the outside counters.
- 100% leather heel but with rubber insert.
- Wooden or brass pegs instead of metal nails.

Methods
- Hand inseaming.
- Hand welting.
- Hand-channeled outsole.

Corrections and suggestions are welcome.

Questions:
- Should the upper leather be pit-tanned, too?
- Should I ask for Baker-tanned leather?
- Should anything be specified about the shank spring?
- Should cork be used as filling? If not, what should be?
- Out of curiosity, just how waterproof is bark-tanned leather? Would the sole get wet at all if I stepped into a puddle for a second?
- Would requirements like these offend a shoemaker?
post #18 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asian Afro View Post
Right now, the chances of Mr. Gray visiting Ottawa are good. Details are still being worked out. Since this will be my first pair of bespoke shoes, I'd like the forum's help in drawing up a list of methods and materials that should be used to ensure high-quality, long-lasting shoes. The draft list of requirements below is drawn from various discussions on SF, notably here, here, and here. (I did not understand everything I read, hence this post.) Materials - Vegetable-tanned upper leather. - Pitt-tanned leather for the lining (full liner), the outsole, the insole, the toe puff, the heel, the heel stiffener, the inside & the outside counters. - 100% leather heel but with rubber insert. - Wooden or brass pegs instead of metal nails. Methods - Hand inseaming. - Hand welting. - Hand-channeled outsole. Corrections and suggestions are welcome. Questions: - Should the upper leather be pit-tanned, too? - Should I ask for Baker-tanned leather? - Should anything be specified about the shank spring? - Should cork be used as filling? If not, what should be? - Out of curiosity, just how waterproof is bark-tanned leather? Would the sole get wet at all if I stepped into a puddle for a second? - Would requirements like these offend a shoemaker?
I think you should start by telling the shoemaker what style of shoe you want...derby, oxford, loafer, boot, etc.. Then tell him what colour you want and how & where you intend to intend to wear them--dress w/suits, casual, sporty, country, lots of pavement walking, only inside, etc....those kinds of things. And then ask him to show you appropriate leathers and tell you something ab out them. At that point you can ask him about alternatives ...maybe what he wants to show you to meet your requirements is chrome tanned. Ask him if a veg tan wouldn't be as good or if there was a veg tan that fit into the same category. I think the uppers can be veg or chrome and you will get quality. I think the liner ought to be unfinished veg...like an English kip. Baker insoles shoulder would be ideal, but there are other insoling leathers that come close and offer good quality. Same goes for the outsoles. I think the best approach...the one that would work the best for you, as a customer, is to let the shoemaker show you what he can offer to meet your needs and desires. If it is not satisfactory...if you really want a green calf that will accept a high shine, for example, and he cannot provide that, then you always have the option of walking away. I don't think he will be insulted if you ask questions but if you let him he will educate you about the advantages and disadvantages of each choice. At least that's what I would do. Bottom line is bespoke means that you get to specify most if not all the details but always, always within the scope of what the shoemaker can provide or considers the best choice. Ultimately, however, you have to trust him to do right by you or look elsewhere.
post #19 of 124
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post
I think you should start by telling the shoemaker what style of shoe you want...derby, oxford, loafer, boot, etc..

That I have, but nothing more than that. I want a pair of dark brown oxfords that can be worn either with suits or business casual attire.

Quote:
Then tell him what colour you want and how & where you intend to intend to wear them--dress w/suits, casual, sporty, country, lots of pavement walking, only inside, etc....those kinds of things. And then ask him to show you appropriate leathers and tell you something ab out them.

I do some pavement walking--a few blocks a day, and the rest of walking indoors. The fact that I do pavement walking means I sometimes have to step into something messy, especially during the summer construction season.

What I was trying to do with the list was really coming up with a set of things that I should not compromise in a pair of bespoke shoes, and gain more understanding on those things. But your suggestion about letting the shoemaker educate me is good. Are there important shoe questions I should ask that I haven't touched on?
post #20 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asian Afro View Post
Check the prices for EGs here.

Did he specifically reference EG in regards to pricing? That would be tempting for bespoke. However, if he's referring to John Lobb/Corthay/Edward Green Top Drawer (~$1500) then that would definitely put it out of range for me.

Thanks for following up on the antiquing question for me.
post #21 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asian Afro View Post
That I have, but nothing more than that. I want a pair of dark brown oxfords that can be worn either with suits or business casual attire. I do some pavement walking--a few blocks a day, and the rest of walking indoors. The fact that I do pavement walking means I sometimes have to step into something messy, especially during the summer construction season. What I was trying to do with the list was really coming up with a set of things that I should not compromise in a pair of bespoke shoes, and gain more understanding on those things. But your suggestion about letting the shoemaker educate me is good. Are there important shoe questions I should ask that I haven't touched on?
"What do you recommend?" I think you need to approach this as a collaboration...you cannot control (mind, I'm not saying that you're trying) this transaction entirely. If you start with a list of materials you do not wish to compromise on, you will almost inevitably be forced to compromise. If you start with a sense or understanding of what comprises quality, you may find a whole world opening up to you...at least by comparison. I know a lot of this sounds vague and doesn't help much but almost by default you're commissioning something that hasn't existed until now...that is not in a catalog or sitting on a shelf for you to try on. You have to trust the shoemaker. That's the devil's bargain--in a world where so many things we hold (or are sold to us) in such high expectation and which inevitably disappoint, you have to put yourself out there once again for something you cannot see or touch until it is made manifest. For all of that, it's an ancient enterprise which is the basis for, if not the essence of, the social contract and all human interaction.
post #22 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post
I'll do it...although I might add that three (of eight) volumes of Golding are already on the HCC website for download.

They, of course, are in the public domain, and readily available on Google(?) in a straight scan/bitmap version.

The version on the HCC homepage is scanned and recognized and internally linked and doesn't have any of the obscuring artifacts that sometimes accompany a simple scan.

Still free for all.

*Cue NBC "The more you know music.*

Excellent. Thanks. Grabbed them.
post #23 of 124
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post
I think you need to approach this as a collaboration...

Understood. I think I was afraid that since there were many parts to the shoe that I couldn't see, if I weren't specific enough in my order, that some assumptions might be made that wouldn't be to my liking, so I might have been a little aggressive.

Jon will now have one less trying customer. Whoever shows up for my meeting in Ottawa might have fun watching me make my order, though.

Thank you again.
post #24 of 124
Thread Starter 
Now a different topic: shoe trees.

According to Jon, if I wanted lasted shoes trees then he would have to have my lasts made by Springline, and the lasts + trees would cost five times more than if I just had the lasts made elsewhere.

Around Ottawa, the only shoe trees I could find were those by Moneysworth & Best, comparable to Woodlore's combination shoe trees. The few I bought were made in the USA, but they had been sitting on the shelves for ages, as every box was full of dust bunnies. The current ones are probably made in China.

Jon said that we could look for something a little nicer, but didn't elaborate, and I figured I'd wait until I meet him in person and ask.

So, to all you Canucks out there: if your shoes didn't come with trees, what trees did you use?
post #25 of 124
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Odd I/O View Post
Did he specifically reference EG in regards to pricing? That would be tempting for bespoke. However, if he's referring to John Lobb/Corthay/Edward Green Top Drawer (~$1500) then that would definitely put it out of range for me.

Thanks for following up on the antiquing question for me.

You're welcome. No, Jon didn't refer to EG specifically, but the quote he gave me was in that ballpark, and NOT the JL/Corthay/Top Drawer territory.

It would be in that higher range if I opted for lasted shoe trees and went through Springline, though.
post #26 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asian Afro View Post
You're welcome. No, Jon didn't refer to EG specifically, but the quote he gave me was in that ballpark, and NOT the JL/Corthay/Top Drawer territory. It would be in that higher range if I opted for lasted shoe trees and went through Springline, though.
I don't know what it is...I have tried with all the powers of persuasion I can muster, calling in chits of friendship and debt, to get US/NA lastmakers to make lasted trees, or even just good shoes trees in the same styles as some of the old vintage shoes trees. But no joy. I don't much care for the trees that are on the market currently and I am not convinced that cedar brings much to the table, either. That said, unless you're making RTW shoes on standard size lasts, or carving your own lasts for bespoke shoes the way Anthony Delos does, a lasted shoe tree is probably a contradiction in terms. Having said that...and here I'll go out on a limb a bit...I'm not altogether sure that a lasted shoe tree is any better than a good fitting adjustable when it comes to keeping the shoe from curling up or losing its shape.
post #27 of 124
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post
I don't much care for the trees that are on the market currently and I am not convinced that cedar brings much to the table, either.
...
Having said that...and here I'll go out on a limb a bit...I'm not altogether sure that a lasted shoe tree is any better than a good fitting adjustable when it comes to keeping the shoe from curling up or losing its shape.

So, should I start looking for vintage shoe trees online, or is there something that's between cedar and lasted shoe trees?
post #28 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asian Afro View Post
So, should I start looking for vintage shoe trees online, or is there something that's between cedar and lasted shoe trees?
There's some lovely vintage trees out there. But Jon will probably provide something tuned if not turned to the shoes he makes. My advice would be to wait and see what he comes up with. Unless you want to go lookin for vintage trees for your other shoes.
post #29 of 124
Thread Starter 
Just updated the original post to show that Jon Gray will be in Ottawa either on July 22nd or July 25th. He will meet prospective customers at E.R. Fisher.

Will add other details of his itinerary in Ontario as I receive them.
post #30 of 124
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post
There's some lovely vintage trees out there. But Jon will probably provide something tuned if not turned to the shoes he makes.

My advice would be to wait and see what he comes up with. Unless you want to go lookin for vintage trees for your other shoes.

I do have a new pair of shoes that don't have trees yet. Seems I've bought up small-sized shoe trees around here.

What kind of vintage shoe trees should I look for? I imagine they should fill out the heel as well as the toe, but should they be hinged or adjustable? Do vents matter? (I see vents on the toes of some modern trees as well.)

Here are some pictures I found on eBay.

Hinged




Adjustable (and hinged)


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