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Shoemaking Techniques and Traditions--"...these foolish things..." - Page 47

post #691 of 1710
One other thought:

Shoemaking includes numerous steps and tasks. To simplify, those might be categorized as Lastmaking/fitting, pattern making, clicking, closing (sewing the uppers), and making (or bottoming). In high volume contexts, those tasks are generally given to different workers, because mastery of any is a long process. While learning to hand-close an upper will no doubt help an aspiring shoemaker learn a shoemaker's stitch, and also require learning to make patterns and skive leather, I personally am not so much of the belief that it is a sensible use of ones time. It will take a really long time to do it, time that could be perhaps more productively spent on learning other shoemaking tasks. I would recommend finding someone who could close your uppers for you, so you can spend your time on other things.
post #692 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ntempleman View Post

Oh yeah, those are for belts and bags etc. just expanding on the stitch marker thing.

I notice the Blanchard's go to 14. Have you ever seen a rolling stitch marker at 16 or 18?
post #693 of 1710
Never had a need for rolling markers, but I've got some high number fudge wheels - 22 or something like that
post #694 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by shoefan View Post

One other thought:

Shoemaking includes numerous steps and tasks. To simplify, those might be categorized as Lastmaking/fitting, pattern making, clicking, closing (sewing the uppers), and making (or bottoming). In high volume contexts, those tasks are generally given to different workers, because mastery of any is a long process. While learning to hand-close an upper will no doubt help an aspiring shoemaker learn a shoemaker's stitch, and also require learning to make patterns and skive leather, I personally am not so much of the belief that it is a sensible use of ones time. It will take a really long time to do it, time that could be perhaps more productively spent on learning other shoemaking tasks. I would recommend finding someone who could close your uppers for you, so you can spend your time on other things.

I don't agree...but it is certainly one approach. Outworkers are the default in Britain if nowhere else. And it is hard to fault that system given the results...esp. if your definition of "sensible" is wrapped up in results and /or goals such as speed, profit and efficiency.

But hard as I try...I, personally, can't find the "shoemaker" in that process.

And more than that, I think it impoverishes the Trade, if not the individuals in it. As I mentioned in another post--learning to sharpen a knife teaches you all sorts of things that influence and elevate other work / skills. Similarly, teaching yourself to "see" 18spi sharpens your vision and your perspective and that too is broadly applicable.

The thing is...for me at least...it begs the question of why we do this work. If it is only, or even primarily, to make a profit, or to get through it as quick and easily as possible, at best we cripple ourselves, stifle our own growth and learning, and unnecessarily place ourselves in competition with outfits that are far better at generating profit than we, as bespoke makers, can ever be.

I advise every one of my students...long before they ever set foot in my shop, that if they are looking for a way to make money they would be better off bagging groceries or pumping gas.

We have to do this for ourselves...not for others, not even our customers. Letting someone else do it is short-changing ourselves and our potential. Fundamentally, it's the "Master Game"--in the sense of "mastery" of skills, but more importantly, of ourselves.

Once you get there...understand that...neither time nor money is in it.

Besides, as long as you have "enough" what else have you got to do with the time you have left in this world?

edited for punctuation and clarity
Edited by DWFII - 2/24/16 at 9:26am
post #695 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

I don't agree...but it is certainly one approach. Outworkers are the default in Britain if nowhere else. And it is hard to fault that system given the results...esp. if your definition of "sensible" is wrapped up in results and /or goals such as speed, profit and efficiency.

But hard as I try...I, personally, can't find the "shoemaker" in that process.

And more than that, I think it impoverishes the Trade, if not the individuals in it. As I mentioned in another post--learning to sharpen a knife teaches you all sorts of things that influence and elevate other work / skills. Similarly, teaching yourself to "see" 18spi sharpens your vision and your perspective and that too is broadly applicable.

The thing is...for me at least...it begs the question of why we do this work. If it is only, or even primarily, to make a profit, or to get through it as quick and easily as possible, at best we cripple ourselves, stifle our own growth and learning, and unnecessarily place ourselves in competition with outfits that are far better at generating profit than we, as bespoke makers, can ever be.

I advise every one of my students...long before they ever set foot in my shop, that if they are looking for a way to make money they would be better off bagging groceries or pumping gas.

We have to do this for ourselves...not for others, not even our customers. Letting someone else do it is short-changing ourselves and our potential. Fundamentally, it's the "Master Game"--in the sense of "mastery" of skills, but more importantly, of ourselves.

Once you get there...understand that...neither time nor money is in it.

Besides, as long as you have "enough" what else have you got to do with the time you have left in this world?

edited for punctuation and clarity

My rationale is that, if someone really wants to do shoemaking, they are eventually going to get a sewing machine to close the uppers. So, I see limited value in investing the hours in hand-closing an upper. I am not advocating not learning to close uppers, just that hand-closing is so time consuming and ultimately only tangentially related to what one would do if really committed to making shoes. Heck, I hand-closed my first upper, which turned out to be too small for my last. So, a lot of hours somewhat down the drain. Never was able to get on to doing the making with that upper, so how valuable were all those hours I'd invested?
post #696 of 1710
I think @DWFII has a point - no shoemaker knows how to make shoes without going through the whole process. Thus the complaint of some newly established 'shoemakers' in Japan where they only had experience doing a outsourced station work in, say, Cleverley. And that's the reason I say some customers are paying to subsidize some shoemakers learning experience.

@shoefan is correct. It makes no sense to hand stitch uppers. There's a video of Andrew Wrigley hand stitching uppers on the tube, and the result is comparable to machine stitching; that's a compliment to his work btw.

Hand stitching uppers is like outsole stitching at 48spi or decorative outsole nail patterns - little practical purposes, lots of bragging rights.
post #697 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by shoefan View Post

My rationale is that, if someone really wants to do shoemaking, they are eventually going to get a sewing machine to close the uppers. So, I see limited value in investing the hours in hand-closing an upper. I am not advocating not learning to close uppers, just that hand-closing is so time consuming and ultimately only tangentially related to what one would do if really committed to making shoes. Heck, I hand-closed my first upper, which turned out to be too small for my last. So, a lot of hours somewhat down the drain. Never was able to get on to doing the making with that upper, so how valuable were all those hours I'd invested?

I understand. I do. I somewhat agree and sympathize wholeheartedly.

But aside from just "seeing the elephant", I have even money that somewhere down the line and God grant you live long enough (in the Trade)...you'll look back and be glad you did it. Somewhere what you learned will aid and abet some other technique.

And, again, the first, and maybe most critical, part of the "Master's Game" is learning...I suspect simply for the learning.

IMO...professionally and personally...at 70 years old.

--
Edited by DWFII - 2/24/16 at 10:22am
post #698 of 1710
Thread Starter 
BTW...on the subject of closing awls and other ephemera....here are a few photos that some might find tasty:

This first photo is a better image and selection of closing awls (all handles made by me).



The second is of 4 stitch marking wheels. In descending order--two 14's one 12 and an interchangeable with an 8 wheel mounted.



And the third is of two "long sticks"--the subject of many a bawdy poem and / or ballad. The bottom one I made, by eye, no lathe, from cocobolo. The top one is boxwood and is vintage or CWF, I'm not sure which..

post #699 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chogall View Post

There's a video of Andrew Wrigley hand stitching uppers on the tube, and the result is comparable to machine stitching; that's a compliment to his work btw.

Not to Andrew Wrigley.
Quote:
Hand stitching uppers is like outsole stitching at 48spi or decorative outsole nail patterns - little practical purposes, lots of bragging rights.

Not to those who did it. Ornamental, yes. But again...just like learning to sharpen a knife properly...a challenge and a step forward--growth, IOW and across the board. And who can live life without growth?

It's just part of being a craftsman / artisan. I suspect that those who aren't, have no basis to understand...and never will. But while we all will take delight and pride in personal achievement...esp. when we know we have just moved to the next level...fundamentally, "bragging rights" ain't in it.
post #700 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

Not to Andrew Wrigley.
Not to those who did it. Ornamental, yes. But again...just like learning to sharpen a knife properly...a challenge and a step forward--growth, IOW and across the board. And who can live life without growth?

It's just part of being a craftsman / artisan. I suspect that those who aren't, have no basis to understand...and never will. But while we all will take delight and pride in personal achievement...esp. when we know we have just moved to the next level...fundamentally, "bragging rights" ain't in it.

The resource allocation problem isn't specific to shoemakers but with every other trades or businesses.

No one can spend most of their learning effort in everything. Somethings gotta give. And giving up hand closing to mechanized tools is a good choice.

Or, if someone is experienced and has enough time arguing on forums, he might spend more time learning and perfecting hand closing.
post #701 of 1710

^ I think you would find a similar focus on self-fulfillment in many people who do research. It doesn't always have to be about bragging rights, or the perpetual search for optimizing your work for making the most money out of your limited time on the planet. You might not understand it but railing against someone who does seems petty

post #702 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chogall View Post

The resource allocation problem isn't specific to shoemakers but with every other trades or businesses.

No one can spend most of their learning effort in everything. Somethings gotta give. And giving up hand closing to mechanized tools is a good choice.

Everything I do is a learning process--that's very simply a state of mind that I deliberately choose to cultivate. But more than that, it is a quest--a search for "mastery" and excellence. To limit myself would be self-defeating. Metaphorically, spiritually suicidal, even.
Quote:
Or, if someone is experienced and has enough time arguing on forums, he might spend more time learning and perfecting hand closing.

Is that your "professional" opinion? Or just more fantasy?

I have no doubt that you'd prefer I didn't post such inconvenient facts; prefer that I left the field for scavengers like yourself. That said, even though I am 70 years old and slowing down, focusing on other things such as philosophy and helping others understand shoemaking, I'm not dead, not dying and still in the game.


Here are a couple of my efforts at hand stitching / closing--my "professional" credentials, so to speak:

12spi on waxed flesh






How about showing us some of yours? (just to establish your "credentials," so to speak)

--
Edited by DWFII - 2/24/16 at 11:30am
post #703 of 1710
My gosh! I am still amazed that people want to argue for short cuts. Is it that hard, at the very least, to respect a man's dedication to doing something as well as possible? Of course, there are easier ways to make shoes or movies or chairs, or whatever. Of course, the money is to be found in the efficiencies of the easier ways.

We should be incredibly grateful that there exist in this world some small number of people who have goals higher than broadening profit margins. Where would we be without the great paintings and novels? None of them were manufactured based on sound business principles.

When you go in for heart surgery, do you want the surgeon who is trying to make the most money with his career or do you want the one who will sacrifice nearly everything to build his skills over decades to do the best job humanly possible?

If forum members want to celebrate the second-rate, then surely they could atart threads dedicated to this topic: "Second-rate shoemaking and the pleasures of mediocrity." I bet DW wouldn't feel compelled to participate in such a thread. Then, y'all could wax poetic, uninterrupted, on GYW 3D-printed shoes made out of recycled soda bottles or whatever.
post #704 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

BTW...as regards 'master'...in my first response I was simply trying to give you a Traditional and historical perspective. But I also offered some insights into how you might go about this, with easily available tools and materials...if your heart was set on it. Hence the reference to large eye beading needles and commercially available nylon thread.

"Master" wasn't in it.

smile.gif

Life long apprentice? shog[1].gif
post #705 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trqmaster View Post

Life long apprentice? shog[1].gif

That's me, I'm afraid.
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