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Shoemaking Techniques and Traditions--"...these foolish things..." - Page 89

post #1321 of 1710
Thread Starter 
The thing that seems to escape many about the shoemaker having to decide between making shoes or money is not just that it is "Job One." That's true enough. But that every subsequent choice springs from that initial choice.

When that choice is made, reality splits into two different dimensions. Branes. Universes. And only under the most unusual circumstances do these universes touch.

Each initial choice dictates a subsequent choice that is entirely dependent on the first. And each choice thereafter springs directly from the second choice...and the third, etc.. It is a decision tree and the fruit of each tree will be separate and distinct/different as surely as an apple is different from a walnut. No matter how we want to whitewash it or rationalize away the consequences of these choices...like the consequences of every choice we make in our lives...the results are irrefutable and inescapable.

And every choice we make, takes one half of that decision off the table, forever. Marry this woman and you'll not marry the other. And the children you have will inherit one set of DNA that they will pass down to their offspring. Or the children you didn't have, because you married the other woman, will never exist. Ever. And the lives they lead and the deeds they do and the effects of their lives on other people spring directly from that first choice.

If a person chooses to make shoes, then every decision--materials, techniques, etc., will be in the service of maximizing the quality of the shoe. That's the definition. And with dedication and passion and perhaps a bit of luck, the money will come. Maybe not in bullion but "enough."

If a person decides to make money, every subsequent decision will be rooted in minimizing costs and maximizing profit...making money, IOW. That's the definition, that's what the individual set out to do. It is specious to suggest that there is any other motive for the decisions being made.

Can adequate shoes be made when the goal is maximizing profit? It depends on what your definition of "adequate" is--if it encompasses celastic for the toe stiffener, for instance, or GYW construction, for another. The only...repeat only...reason to use celastic or GYW is to minimize costs and maximize profit.

The only reason...simply because there are, and have been for centuries, good alternatives to such materials and techniques. Alternatives that result in objectively better made, higher quality shoes. But they cost more and are more labour intensive. And so are never to be considered except as somewhat burdensome selling points to attract customers. [Parenthetically, these Traditional techniques and materials are also usually better for the environment and the health of our children, grandchildren and the planet. And create skills, employ people at tasks they can be proud of and gives them access to useful and meaningful lives. If money is not the prime directive / motive for such firms, why would such considerations be dismissed or ignored?]

Even those individuals or firms who say to themselves" I'm going to make the best shoes I can for an affordable price...and make a living while I'm at it " are already signaling their intent to cut quality if necessary. Already qualifying their goals.

In fact, that might be a noble goal...depending on how you see and define these things. It might even be doable. But it's still about the money.

The shoemaker who chooses to make shoes will always make shoes even if there is no money in it. The "shoemaker" who chooses to make money will cut costs (and quality) even further, or find something else to do (besides shoes) if there's no significant profit in it.

edited for punctuation and clarity
Edited by DWFII - 5/10/16 at 12:34pm
post #1322 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThunderMarch View Post
 

Lol. 

Well, my point wasn't really about "justifiable shoe prices" at large. 

We might never ever come to a consensus about that. 

But I'm just saying that a shoemaker should charge and treat different clients (even if they project very different levels of wealth) based on the same "pricing formula". 

 

@ThunderMarch yes of course, although pricing formulae are often inexact (if a customer has square feet, creating a presentable shoe is a bigger challenge for example, and should be compensated). I think nick was mentioning that some customers ask for additional "luxury" options, with price being of no concern. examples abound -  intricate outsole engravings, brass nail patterns of insignia, croc arch supports in calf shoes etc... (although the last one might have some function that I'm unaware of).

post #1323 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zapasman View Post

 

 

B.-Stitching aloft.

 

C.-Cut an inside channel and turn-up a leather flap by hand.

 

D.-Cut a small and straight inside channel but no leather flap (although not clear here).

Hi Nick,

 

I would like to know your opinion here too.  Do you find any inconvenients while resoling any of these 3 shoes if the welt is damaged?.  My cobbler here had to send to the trash shoe D. cause it was impossible to work with.

post #1324 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zapasman View Post

Hi Nick,

I would like to know your opinion here too.  Do you find any inconvenients while resoling any of these 3 shoes if the welt is damaged?.  My cobbler here had to send to the trash shoe D. cause it was impossible to work with.

B and C are a bunt. D isn't a clear enough picture to tell. I will say this though...in all three cases if it's only the welt is damaged it would be replaced using the original holes. Of course stitched by hand. In all three (from what I can see in the pictures) there is essentially no difference than stitching a welt to a shoe that was gemmed.
post #1325 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick V. View Post

B and C are a bunt. D isn't a clear enough picture to tell. I will say this though...in all three cases if it's only the welt is damaged it would be replaced using the original holes. Of course stitched by hand. In all three (from what I can see in the pictures) there is essentially no difference than stitching a welt to a shoe that was gemmed.
So, if you have to replace the welt and, hence, need to sew on a new welt by hand, do you use a curved awl and a shoemaker's stitch, or do you use a jerk-needle and do a lockstitch? What about if you need to sew on a new welt for a gemmed shoe? I'm just curious how you do these repairs.
post #1326 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by shoefan View Post

So, if you have to replace the welt and, hence, need to sew on a new welt by hand, do you use a curved awl and a shoemaker's stitch, or do you use a jerk-needle and do a lockstitch? What about if you need to sew on a new welt for a gemmed shoe? I'm just curious how you do these repairs.

Jerk needle and lock-stitch. The same for gemmed.
post #1327 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick V. View Post

Jerk needle and lock-stitch. The same for gemmed.

I was kind of waiting to see where shoefan would go with this...

In any case, given your "complete agreement" with me in another thread, on the purpose of shoe repair...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick V. View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

Repair is supposed to return the shoe to as near the original state as is possible...neither "improving" it, nor leaving out steps. These are all judgement calls...and open to interpretation...by folks who all too often have never made a shoe and don't really understand the principles involved.
I completely agree with this^^^

and in the context of the focus of this thread and its title, it is worth noting that very few shoes are inseamed using a jerk needle and a lock stitch. Even GY is most often chain stitched.

More specifically, the shoes in the photos that Zapasman asked about are, in all likelihood, hand welted with a curved sewing awl and a shoemaker's stitch.

If the purpose of shoe repair is to return the shoes to as near the original state as possible, using a jerk needle and a lockstitch would be a step in the wrong direction, in my estimation, and a re-interpretation / mis-interpretation of the maker's intent.
post #1328 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

I was kind of waiting to see where shoefan would go with this...

In any case, given your "complete agreement" with me in another thread, on the purpose of shoe repair...
and in the context of the focus of this thread and its title, it is worth noting that very few shoes are inseamed using a jerk needle and a lock stitch. Even GY is most often chain stitched.

More specifically, the shoes in the photos that Zapasman asked about are, in all likelihood, hand welted with a curved sewing awl and a shoemaker's stitch.

If the purpose of shoe repair is to return the shoes to as near the original state as possible, using a jerk needle and a lockstitch would be a step in the wrong direction, in my estimation, and a re-interpretation / mis-interpretation of the maker's intent.

I partly agree and partly disagree....
If we think we can improve we will. An example of this is as I mentioned in the thread you spoke of. If a shoe comes in for a re-craft and the sole was originally only cemented on in most cases we will McKay stitch it when we do the re-craft. Following your point, no, we didn't do the job to bring the shoe as close as possible as the original. However, there is no disputing the fact that we did the job better than the shoe was built. Accordingly, I happen to like the lock-stitch better than the shoemaker's stitch. From what I've seen the locks-stitch holds better and is less likely to fail.
post #1329 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick V. View Post

Accordingly, I happen to like the lock-stitch better than the shoemaker's stitch. From what I've seen the locks-stitch holds better and is less likely to fail.

Well, mechanically, structurally, I don't think that case can be made. But, as they say, you'd have to be there.

Beyond that, AFAIK, the concept of a lockstitch has been around for centuries and yet shoemakers have never embraced it. You have to ask yourself why that is. Generations upon generations of shoemakers have come to the conclusion that the shoemaker's stitch is the best and most reliable, certainly the tightest...esp with a good hand wax...and the most long lasting.

I wouldn't second guess a thousand years of experience in any case, but my own experience echos the Traditional wisdom.
post #1330 of 1710

Thanks for all your replies.  Very interesting discussion indeed. 

post #1331 of 1710
I'd like to ask for opinions of the shoemakers here, pardon me.
For a pair of bespoke shoes, I understand that during the fitting process, a test shoe made of not the best leather and thin outsole is used to help judge fit.
I also do understand that some makers ? additionally do a fitting with a pair of welted shoes?
I am wondering about the rationale of this, what is the additional information gained? And is this "trial shoe" usually a direct precursor of the final shoe, or a separate pair.
Should this pair be a final precursor.. how then can further modifications to it be made, since it's already been welted.

Thanks much, in advance.
post #1332 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

Well, mechanically, structurally, I don't think that case can be made. But, as they say, you'd have to be there.

Beyond that, AFAIK, the concept of a lockstitch has been around for centuries and yet shoemakers have never embraced it. You have to ask yourself why that is. Generations upon generations of shoemakers have come to the conclusion that the shoemaker's stitch is the best and most reliable, certainly the tightest...esp with a good hand wax...and the most long lasting.

I wouldn't second guess a thousand years of experience in any case, but my own experience echos the Traditional wisdom.

Yup....I'm there everyday for over 40 years. I'm not second guessing anything. I can't remember the last time a new welt that we did with that stitch failed because of the inseam stitching. I don't know the number but, I would venture to guess that it's in the 10's of thousands of jobs that I was responsible for. And you? I would guess at most it would a couple of thousand. If something fails it costs me time and money.

I have no problem with you being a traditionalist and being guided by the lead of tradition. That's your prerogative. When you say "the most long lasting" please explain that.....

Me? I use my experience as my guide. When I have a product, service or, method with that overwhelming of consistent dependability I'm not going to change it, no matter what.

But, as they say "if it ain't broken don't fix it.
Weather you agree or not, that's my prerogative.
post #1333 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Yup....I'm there everyday for over 40 years.

Actually, no you've not.

In this context, "being there" means more than sitting in an office on your hands.

It means actually using your hands. It means making and testing...discovering and knowing in your gut...the strength of the thread and how it interacts with the handwax (which you also made) and how that wax heats up and locks up and how it becomes one with the leather. Being physically involved, IOW.

It is a lifetime of feeling the tensions set up between each side of the inseam and knowing how much muscle is required to pull the welt and upper into the feather without breaking through the welt or upper or holdfast. Over and over again, until all of that is imprinted in muscle memory so firmly it is near-as-nevermind genetic.

It is understanding the mechanics of the stitch because you've actually done the stitch...done both the shoemaker's stitch and the lockstitch. How can you understand something if you've never done it? Have never physically done a lockstitch? I trained as a saddlemaker. I've done lockstitches in many different contexts. I have a real...not imagined or supposed...basis for objective comparison.

Even if you did the work yourself, it would not be the same in a repair situation. The leather is already set. The thread--third party. The holes already made.

I know that you would like people to think that there is a functional and practical...and even perhaps moral...equivalency between doing the work and supervising...or even planning and/or thinking about...the work. Between knowing in your gut and knowing (or thinking you know) in your head. Between work and book learning or anecdotes.

But there isn't.

It's pretense or self-delusion to assert otherwise.

I'm not saying one is better than the other....except for the purposes of being a reliable and trustworthy source of information about things that relate almost entirely to the work...to the Trade, to the hands-on, physical labour and the sensory input and somatic knowledge that comes from it; except for the purposes of being knowledgeable and objective about the Trade and the Traditions...and, in fact, any other approach other than the one you have embraced and, for no other objective reason, think trumps all others.

If you or anyone else have never put any of it into action, it is second-guessing. It's damn sure not first hand. Neither "first" nor related to the work that the "hand" knows.

BTW, I saw you lurking a couple a days ago and thought to myself "Here we go again. It's like a tag team...if it's not one it's the other."

Why is it that those with the least experience are the most entrenched in illusion?

--
Edited by DWFII - 5/11/16 at 7:59am
post #1334 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

Actually, no you've not.

In this context, "being there" means more than sitting in an office on your hands.

It means actually using your hands. It means making and testing...discovering and knowing in your gut...the strength of the thread and how it interacts with the handwax (that you also made) and how that wax heats up and locks up and how it becomes one with the leather. Physically using it, IOW.

It is a lifetime of feeling the tensions set up between each side of the inseam and knowing how much muscle is required to pull the welt and upper into the feather without breaking through the welt or upper or holdfast. Over and over again, until all of that is imprinted in muscle memory so firmly it is near-as-nevermind genetic.

It is understanding the mechanics of the stitch because you've actually done the stitch...done both the shoemaker's stitch and the lockstitch. How can you understand something if you've never done it? Have never physically done a lockstitch? I trained as a saddlemaker. I've done lockstitches over and over again. I have a real...not imagined or supposed...basis for objective comparison.

Even if you did the work yourself, it would not be the same in a repair situation. The leather is already set. The thread--third party. The holes already made.

I know that you would like people to think that there is a functional and practical...and even perhaps moral...equivalency between doing the work and supervising the work. Between knowing in your gut and knowing (or thinking you know) in your head. Between work and book learning or anecdotes.

But there isn't.

It's pretense or self-delusion to assert otherwise.

I'm not saying one is better than the other....except for the purposes of being a reliable and trustworthy source of information about things that relate almost entirely to the work...to the Trade, to the hands-on, physical labour and the sensory input and somatic knowledge that comes from it; except for the purposes of being knowledgeable and objective about the Trade and the Traditions...and, in fact, any other approach other than the one you have embraced and think you know.

If you or anyone else have never put any of it into action, it is second-guessing. It's damn sure not first hand. Neither "first" nor related to the work that the "hand" knows.

BTW, I saw you lurking a couple a days ago and thought to myself "Here we go again. It's like a tag team...if it's not one it's the other."

Why is it that those with the least experience are the most entrenched in illusion?

--

Well, if you are admitting that "one is not better than the other" then what is your point?
If the concept of lock-stitching has been around for centuries and shoemakers never embraced it' then how/why is it still around?
You never explained how a shoemakers stitch is "the most long lasting" While you are at it, how can you prove how "it is the tightest"? Are we just supposed to take your word just because you said so? FWIW our lock-stitching shows no grinning what-so-ever. It's plenty tight.
Explain how is the shoemakers stitch is "the most reliable"? I've seen many, many fail. Our lock stitches don't.

I never said "it is the same as a repair situation". That's just you being you, putting your words in my mouth. Rather, I merely answered the question asked of Me. Obviously I need to remind you, The question was "what kind of stitch do we use".

I find it amusing maybe even flattering that you pay such keen attention to me lurking? I don't lurk, I don't need to. I follow a thread and get involved when I feel there is something worth while for me to contribute to. If you consider that 'lurking" I would suggest that it's more like boredom -or- paranoia (maybe a splash of both) on your part. But as they say that's not my problem, it's yours and you can get some help for that.

Last, Why don't you stop trying to lecture me? You charge your students so you can lecture them. Stop wasting the forum's time doing it here.....
post #1335 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick V. View Post

...

What I said, if you read for content and understanding rather than points of divergence and contention, was that being someone who actually does the work, with his hands, is not necessarily better than being someone who simply supervises those who do the work.

But make no mistake, I think that the shoemaker's stitch is superior to a lockstitch (in so many ways)...esp. in the context of shoes and the inseam. I say that from long professional, hands on, experience with both stitches.

I don't understand why you think I'm lecturing you...I am trying to help you understand something--a process--that you do not really understand. If you feel like it's lecturing it's because you have a resistance to any perspective not your own.

I've tried most of the techniques that are known to man when it comes to shoemaking and leatherwork. Tried to master many of them. I've done lock stitches and I've done shoemaker's stitches. I have a real world basis for making an objective comparison. How about you?

You say you've seen many many shoemaker's stitches fail and never your lockstitches. How can that be? You don't do those stitches, you aren't even in the game. All you know is what your "people" tell you.

I've explained many times why the shoemaker's stitch is superior. Why it is the most reliable and long lasting. I am nothing if not willing to explain...in detail and even at some length. You don't want to hear it. You just complain about how I say these things, not what was said. The critical point there is that I wouldn't need to explain this stuff to you if you actually had any experience doing it...not just imagining it.

If you want to contribute something worthwhile...talk about what you know and stop pretending to know things you have no actual experience with.
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