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Shoemaking Techniques and Traditions--"...these foolish things..." - Page 111

post #1651 of 1709

I've got a question today about toes. 

I'va attached 2 pictures..... perhaps not the best comparison, but one is a bespoke pair (top) and the other is RTW (bottom).

For the bespoke pair, right at the tip of the toe area, where the chisel ends, the uppers seem to come very very close to the surface of the welt, almost touching, creating a very elegant sihouette where the outlines of the uppers and welt / outsole seem to merge very smoothly. 

The RTW pair however, at the tip of the toe area, has the uppers lifted off the welt and there is a noticeable "break" in the continuity of the lines / curves. 

I am assuming it is incredibly difficult to achieve something like what is shown in the bespoke pair. 

How does the maker go about achieving this kind of an "effect"?

Must the toe puffs be very finely skived?

And what are the challenges faced?

Thanks in advance.

 

post #1652 of 1709
Thread Starter 
Thundermarch,

Good eye! fing02[1].gif

I don't think it is all that "incredibly difficult"...a lot of it is the shape of the last. Some small part of it is the shape of the insole and another part is the way the shoe is inseamed.

Goodyear welted shoes will almost always look like your second photo.

Handwelted shoes can be done like your first photo, although not every maker takes the time and the care ...or even admires that look enough to make it so.

IMO, the profile in the first photo is damn near perfect. A good job all the way around and the ideal for a good many of us.
post #1653 of 1709
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

Thundermarch,

Good eye! fing02[1].gif

I don't think it is all that "incredibly difficult"...a lot of it is the shape of the last. Some small part of it is the shape of the insole and another part is the way the shoe is inseamed.

Goodyear welted shoes will almost always look like your second photo.

Handwelted shoes can be done like your first photo, although not every maker takes the time and the care ...or even admires that look enough to make it so.

IMO, the profile in the first photo is damn near perfect. A good job all the way around and the ideal for a good many of us.

 

Thanks as always, DW. 

During the inseaming process, what specifically does the maker need to take note of, to ensure such a profile can be developed?

post #1654 of 1709
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThunderMarch View Post

Thanks as always, DW. 
During the inseaming process, what specifically does the maker need to take note of, to ensure such a profile can be developed?

With regard to HW, it's not in the inseaming per se but more in the prep work--the way the last is shaped, the way the insole is cut (feathered), and the type of material and shaping of the toe puff.

As mentioned, I think GY will always exhibit a less elegant profile. And that is inherent in the inseaming...such as it is.

That said...and with the disclaimer that I am not entirely satisfied with my own efforts in this regard...I don't believe it is possible to totally eliminate that "tuck-under" gap between the shoe and the welt.

It is possible to minimize it significantly, however. As your own photos illustrate.

edited for punctuation and clarity
Edited by DWFII - 10/12/16 at 8:00am
post #1655 of 1709
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post


What a strange question. With all due respect...and I hope I'm wrong...it's almost as if you weren't really asking about shoemaking Traditions so much as challenging the idea that there is any authority above and beyond the self and the arbitrary.

If you want a definitive definition of "tradition" I can think of no better one than can be found in the Oxford English dictionary which stipulates that a tradition must be passed down from generation to generation. It cannot be something that we suddenly decide is a tradition because we've done it for two years in a row. Or ten years, or even faithfully for 100 years. And "passing it down"...which implies a certain level of respect, a recognition of our own place in the scheme of things, and perhaps most importantly a certain level of humility...is a critical part of Tradition. Any real Tradition.

If you want a more specific definition of Shoemaking Tradition you need to first be able and willing to bend the knee, to sit at someone else's feet, to listen, learn and openly acknowledge your own ignorance. Openly acknowledge and respect the effort and the achievements of those who have gone before and who, by every objective measure, have reached skill levels that you yourself can only marvel at. And hope to emulate, if only roughly.

At that point, you might be able to read the literature and look at the history and the artifacts of past shoemakers and honour and appreciate "what a piece of work is man...."

Therein lie the Traditions.


edited for punctuation and clarity

I am sure you know my intention with my respectful question was no other than to reach a better understanding of the meaning Shoemaking Tradition for you cordwainers (at least the ones who cares for).  I understood part of the meaning before ( tradition must be passed down from generation to generation....willing to bend the knee, to sit at someone else's feet, to listen, learn and openly acknowledge your own ignorance...) but I thought that there could be a regulatory body (approved by appointed experts in the Trade ) which could compile all best practices from different makers in the past such as Thornton, Garsault, etc.   A kind of text glossary of hand made shoes that could serve you as a Guide.  It seems you must do your own journey working with dedicated compagnions to really understand the meaning and to have the willingnes to go beyond by yourself.

 

Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

And yes, you are right, only a small minority of people today...in this age of continuous selfies and unbridled self absorption...consider anything outside of themselves worth allegiance, or respect or, as you say, relevant.

Why am I the "only shoemaker" who goes to "'great effort to explain?" I don't think I am. But if so, perhaps it is simply because I am foolish enough to think it is worthwhile in and of itself. Or maybe it's because I cannot allow myself to give up on my fellow man. Or more likely, it is because somewhere along the line of my life I ran across someone who was wise enough and generous enough to pass that lesson of respect...even reverence...on to me. Maybe I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time.

Maybe it's just the luck of the draw.

Karma, neh?

edited for punctuation and clarity

My question was originated due to the fact that I don´t see many shoemakers  who use expressions such us "shoemaking traditions" or "best practices" at all (apart from the HCM).  Maybe they are really aware of their meaning and work hard to reach those taughts that you share here with enthusiasm, but it is a pity most shoemakers do not put more emphasis on this issue.  If its the karma, welcome man!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

And FWIW...there is a big difference between "changing" and "evolving." No one would deny the changing part. I, myself, deviate (occasionally and, hopefully, only as necessary) from Traditional shoemaking techniques and have even "invented" techniques that are outside Traditional paradigms.

But unless techniques and processes can equal or even surpass the objective quality and finesse of that which has gone before, it cannot, by any stretch of the equivocating imagination, be called "evolution."

I stand corrected.  

 

My final reflection tells me that to really understand those meanings you must have first walked a long journey at the bench. That is why of my ignorance here.

 

Thanks for your explanation.

post #1656 of 1709
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zapasman View Post

I am sure you know my intention with my respectful question was no other than to reach a better understanding of the meaning Shoemaking Tradition for you cordwainers (at least the ones who cares for).  I understood part of the meaning before ( tradition must be passed down from generation to generation....willing to bend the knee, to sit at someone else's feet, to listen, learn and openly acknowledge your own ignorance...) but I thought that there could be a regulatory body (approved by appointed experts in the Trade ) which could compile all best practices from different makers in the past such as Thornton, Garsault, etc.   A kind of text glossary of hand made shoes that could serve you as a Guide.  It seems you must do your own journey working with dedicated compagnions to really understand the meaning and to have the willingnes to go beyond by yourself.

No worries. But it's worth remembering that such regulatory bodies did exist once upon a time. They were called guilds and a lot of what they endorsed became the foundational principles for the Traditions. More broadly, set the stage for defining the Traditions. Of course, once mass manufacturing began to get a foothold in the Trade, the influence of the guilds was lost. If only because people...esp. newbies...don't want to be told what is right or wrong, much less why.

In that sense corporations really are like individuals--always self-promoting and never acknowledging any authority...or higher power or greater insight or more important interest...than their own.

Beyond all that, everyone wants to be an Artist (with a capital "A")...and immediately, no effort required. Everyone wants to claim "mastery" and be seen as a master. No one wants to be a simple Craftsman, or a Tradesman. No one wants to be seen as a student, nevermind a novice. In such an environment, no one can lower themselves to admit or acknowledge an "expert" much less a body of experts that doesn't include themselves.

The books and the history and the work and the Traditions...the words of the "old, dead, guys" IOW....are the only "appointed experts" we will ever have going forward, I'm afraid.
Quote:
My question was originated due to the fact that I don´t see many shoemakers  who use expressions such us "shoemaking traditions" or "best practices" at all (apart from the HCM).  Maybe they are really aware of their meaning and work hard to reach those taughts that you share here with enthusiasm, but it is a pity most shoemakers do not put more emphasis on this issue.  If its the karma, welcome man!!

Well, between you and me...one of the reasons you don't see many shoemakers who use such expressions or take the time to explain in detail is that they are young and haven't had the time in harness to think about these things in depth or at their leisure, much less the perspective to really and truly look back over a long career and appreciate and respect the complexity and value of what they have done or are trying to do. As well as the generosity and value (skills, insights, work) of those who passed it on to them.

And perhaps more to the point, they don't have the desire or the communication skills that I have. I have always been a writer. Always been a talker and a "discusser."

Always been a teacher. Always been willing to share.

And I have always believed that if a person cannot articulate what they believe or why they do something, they haven't done it enough and / or haven't thought it through, and as a result, are not...cannot be...certain of their conclusions or beliefs. Language is just an echo of what's inside. Hence my focus on speaking and writing well, or at least clearly...mostly. I've thought about these issues for close onto 50 years and I've explored the pros and cons from every angle, simply because shoemaking is my passion, is who I am.

A lot of people, when faced with such uncertainty in themselves, think that "fake it til you make it" is the best course. They pretend to know rather than simply admit that they don't.
Quote:
My final reflection tells me that to really understand those meanings you must have first walked a long journey at the bench. That is why of my ignorance here.

Thanks for your explanation.

Again no worries.

cheers.gif

edited for punctuation and clarity
Edited by DWFII - 10/13/16 at 8:18am
post #1657 of 1709

^Just brilliant!!

 

:cheers:

post #1658 of 1709
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

And perhaps more to the point, they don't have the desire or the communication skills that I have. I have always been a writer. Always been a talker and a "discusser."

Always been a teacher. Always been willing to share.


And I have always believed that if you cannot articulate what you believe or why you do something, you haven't done it enough, haven't thought it through, or are not certain of your conclusions. Hence my focus on speaking and writing well, or at least clearly...mostly. I've thought about these issues for close onto 50 years and I've explored the pros and cons from every angle, simply because shoemaking is my passion, is who I am.

A lot of people, when faced with such uncertainty in themselves, think that "fake it til you make it" is the best course. They pretend to know rather than simply admit that they don't.
Again no worries.

cheers.gif

edited for punctuation and clarity

 

Must say that I couldn't agree more. 

I think you do have a way of articulating concepts and processes, and teaching, that really brings life and interest to the topic of shoemaking. 

You could probably go to a school and teach it to a bunch of kids and make them enjoy it. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post


With regard to HW, it's not in the inseaming per se but more in the prep work--the way the last is shaped, the way the insole is cut (feathered), and the type of material and shaping of the toe puff.

As mentioned, I think GY will always exhibit a less elegant profile. And that is inherent in the inseaming...such as it is.

That said...and with the disclaimer that I am not entirely satisfied with my own efforts in this regard...I don't believe it is possible to totally eliminate that "tuck-under" gap between the shoe and the welt.

It is possible to minimize it significantly, however. As your own photos illustrate.

edited for punctuation and clarity

 

Thanks for the insight. 

I guess in looking at it as a whole, it's always been more a "sum of all parts", that gives rise to a good end product. 

Sometimes when looking at a pair of well made shoes, I find that a lot of the aesthetics are very "unconscious". You look at it, and you get blown away, but you can't quite figure of what are the exact detail/details made it so awesome. 

Such is the beauty of and artistry of it. Subtle and refined.

post #1659 of 1709
Thread Starter 
^Thank you.
post #1660 of 1709
@DWFII
I know you dislike making direct comments about a named maker, and I'm sorry to put you in a spot, but recently I've been giving this some thought.
I am going to reference this video here.
https://youtu.be/r1ut2JYLLgI

I know that when the technique of pegging is used in lieu of a conventional hand welt, for maybe say, a pair of cowboy boots... the proper way would be to first whip stitch the uppers to the insole, and then at the end, drive the pegs deep enough so they go through the outsole, then the uppers, and finally the insole, to produce a secure bond between all these components. Correct me if I'm wrong, but at these areas, there is NO welt and inseam.
However, in the video, what I CAN see, is that the inseaming and welt goes all the way to the breast of the heel, and encompasses the waist.
But following that... the outsole is then attached and it seems that the entire waist area is skived down very tight to the uppers. The machine stitching of the outsole is then done, ending before the waist, and then pegging commences.
Again, correct me if I'm wrong. But it seems that here, pegging is done in lieu of outsole STITCHING while the hand welt is maintained. Do you think this is a somewhat unconventional approach?
Secondly, I can't tell, but I'm not sure if the holdfast was cut in such a way that it was more set more medially at the waist, like the way you would prepare a holdfast for a blind welt. If it wasn't, wouldn't there be almost NO welt left behind, for the peg to be able to grip both the welt and outsole, and then in effect, rendering the pegs' function as merely ornamental, and the only bond between uppers / insole and the outsole, being the glue that was used?
This in turn, begs the next question, if indeed the holdfast was prepared correctly, why then use pegging for the outsole "attachment method" instead of stitching?
Thanks in advance!
Edited by ThunderMarch - 10/20/16 at 5:42pm
post #1661 of 1709
Thread Starter 
I think your post illustrates a better-than-average understanding of the logic and mechanics of shoemaking--what can be done, what cannot or will fall short of expectations.

I started my career making boots. Western boots are Traditionally made much as you describe in the first couple of paragraphs after the link. That's the way I do it. It is a technique that addresses most, if not all, of the aesthetic and mechanical necessities of the form. As well as the inherent weaknesses of pegging in general.

That said, many makers do consider cement enough. It is a direct cross-pollination from cobblers (repairmen) who consider speed and expediency as "Job One."

For Western boots that are intended to be ridden hard, deep in the stirrup, no technique approaches the functionality of pegging in the waist.

For shoes, no technique is as stable and reliable as stitching. In context, pegging is "second best", at best and superfluous or without an underlying rationale in general.

IMO...
post #1662 of 1709
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThunderMarch View Post

...... https://youtu.be/r1ut2JYLLgI....

the black insert
at the heel:

keixcx.jpg

looks very much
liek compressed fibreboard
which is used
in making a stable
base for women's
heeled pumps
(i saw a similar
thing done
when my wife
had her pumps
made)
post #1663 of 1709
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by T4phage View Post

the black insert at the heel:

looks very much liek compressed fibreboard which is used
in making a stable base for women's heeled pumps

It is.

Fiberboard "tucks" are not needed when a good quality insole is used. Most, if not all, women's fashion shoes are made with fiberboard or Poron (or some other synthetic) insoles. Generally speaking, nails (the unspeakable) will not hold reliably in thin leather or fiberboard insoles. Hence the "tuck."
post #1664 of 1709
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

I think your post illustrates a better-than-average understanding of the logic and mechanics of shoemaking--what can be done, what cannot or will fall short of expectations.

I started my career making boots. Western boots are Traditionally made much as you describe in the first couple of paragraphs after the link. That's the way I do it. It is a technique that addresses most, if not all, of the aesthetic and mechanical necessities of the form. As well as the inherent weaknesses of pegging in general.

That said, many makers do consider cement enough. It is a direct cross-pollination from cobblers (repairmen) who consider speed and expediency as "Job One."

For Western boots that are intended to be ridden hard, deep in the stirrup, no technique approaches the functionality of pegging in the waist.

For shoes, no technique is as stable and reliable as stitching. In context, pegging is "second best", at best and superfluous or without an underlying rationale in general.

IMO...

 

Thank you very much for your input. 

I'm just curious about this, and this might not do much with Shoemaking Tradition, but with regards to wearing boots for riding, what are the unique challenges / situations that would arise, which would render pegging the most suitable construction method as opposed to hand welting?

post #1665 of 1709
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThunderMarch View Post

Thank you very much for your input. 
I'm just curious about this, and this might not do much with Shoemaking Tradition, but with regards to wearing boots for riding, what are the unique challenges / situations that would arise, which would render pegging the most suitable construction method as opposed to hand welting?
Heh...you'd almost have to see it / do it, and ride, to really understand but I'll give it a go:

First, the gear and Traditions of Western riding are significantly different than English. Or any other equestrian tradition in the world...for the most part. Bear in mind that the Western boot evolved in another time and place--different than might be popular or familiar today. Whether riding western really requires the boot to be built or shaped the way it is...and has been...is beside the point. The boot carries its own legacies. In Western horsemanship, for instance, there is very little posting and the stirrups are more often than not shaped differently than English stirrups.

Probably the iconic and Traditional Western stirrup is shaped like a "U" that is pinched at the top. This is called the "oxbow" stirrup.

Most "cowboys" in the past, and even today in some Traditional ranching communities, ride deep in the stirrup, esp. if they ride oxbows. The heel is butted right up against the edge of the stirrup. So the waist of the boot is taking the weight of the body. As a result, the waist wants to be somewhat rounded to conform to the shape of the stirrup--if only to avoid the "square-peg-in-a-round-hole" syndrome.

People talk about "fiddleback" waists here in association with high-end shoes. But Western boots evolved with fiddleback waists. Not sure if there's a cross-pollinating relationship or if one begat the other but I suspect the fiddleback waist on boots predate those on shoes by a significant margin.

So shape is one part of it.

Then there's the support issues...when weight is carried in the waist of the boot, that waist must be solid. There can be no gaps or air spaces anywhere between the insole and the outsole. Welting tends to create such spaces (although it's not a given). Instead we use a modified version of what has been called a "box beam" construction. Aside from a stout shank support (historically it was a 30-60 penny nail forged to shape) the whole waist is solid layers of leather...much as if it were a hidden heel stack.

Shaped and constructed as it is, there are no flexible areas such as there might be if welting were applied. Welting creates a horizontal attachment (despite the stitching). Pegs are entirely a vertical attachment. Without welting the only recourse is to peg or (shudder) nail.

This may all sound a bit esoteric but the Western boot is the result of evolution...a culturally influenced evolution...every bit as much as shoes are. And every pair, regardless of how fancy or how exotic the leathers, is fundamentally a "work" boot--a tool.
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