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Hand lasted vs machine lasted

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Tidybeard, Feb 23, 2010.

  1. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    You might not have ever seen it with respect to shoes, but that does not negate my statement. The pottery wheel (which is a machine), I'd argue, is the more difficult skill to master compared to hand building a pot. While the pottery wheel allows a pot to be built faster than one by hand, hence its need, it requires a higher degree of skill compared to hand building. If you don't believe me, please ask a skilled potter.
    Part of the problem...and I suspect it is operative here...is that too many people in this society confuse presentation with substance or quality. That's why $600.00 shoes that are not significantly different from $100.00 shoes are extolled so vociferously here. Why antique finishes are lauded. There are so many examples of hand coiled pots ...from the South West if nowhere else...that are superior in quality to much that is done on a potter's wheel that I have a hard time accepting your thesis...although I am not a potter nor do I claim special insights. My point is that just because a pot is more symmetrical and even doesn't make it better than the hand coiled pot...it only makes it "prettier." Pretty is a factor in quality but it is only one factor. And sometimes...as with the thread on Windsor Tie Knots...symmetrical is not the aesthetic be-all and end-all. It is only a glitter to beguile the uneducated eye.
     
  2. furo

    furo Well-Known Member

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    My point is that just because a pot is more symmetrical and even doesn't make it better than the hand coiled pot...it only makes it "prettier." Pretty is a factor in quality but it is only one factor.


    Sorry, but I'm not talking about what's "prettier" or necessarily "better" which are highly subjective terms.

    My thesis is a matter of skill. Your contention is that the machine is always something that requires less skill than something made by hand, and I'm arguing that's not always the case.

    Again, if you don't believe me, ask any skilled potter about it. I have.
     
  3. RJman

    RJman Well-Known Member

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    I see furo went to the Mafoofan School of Debate.

    DWFII, I see where you are coming from. Would love to discuss offline IRL if you are ever around.
     
  4. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, but I'm not talking about what's "prettier" or necessarily "better" which are highly subjective terms. My thesis is a matter of skill. Your contention is that the machine is always something that requires less skill than something made by hand, and I'm arguing that's not always the case. Again, if you don't believe me, ask any skilled potter about it. I have.
    Pardon me but this strikes me as counter-productive... You want me to accept second-hand testimony about an issue that you have not defined in any terms except symmetry (what is quality when it comes to pottery? and this is probably not the thread to do that in) but you will not accept first-hand testimony, accompanied by detailed and exhaustive explanations as to what quality is in shoes and why it applies or doesn't, from me...??!!
     
  5. furo

    furo Well-Known Member

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    Pardon me but this strikes me as counter-productive...

    You want me to accept second-hand testimony about an issue that you have not defined in any terms except symmetry (what is quality when it comes to pottery? and this is probably not the thread to do that in) but you will not accept first-hand testimony, accompanied by detailed and exhaustive explanations as to what quality is in shoes and why it applies or doesn't, from me...??!!


    Let's revisit your original statement to clear this up:

    Running a machine in a shoe factory may take a certain skill but it pales in comparison to the skill it takes to do the same job by hand...that's the reason the machine is there to begin with.

    I'm giving you an example of where this contention does not always hold true. As with any argument on the internet, you're free to fact check and do whatever you want with respect to first hand, second hand, tertiary, what ever, when it comes to testimony.

    But my point is the same:

    It is not necessarily true that the "same job by hand" requires more skill than the same job by machine.

    The pottery wheel is an example. And notice that even in your own statement above you are ignoring quality because we are talking about identical end products. Quality becomes moot when comparing identical objects. Which is fine. Hence my contention.
     
  6. RJman

    RJman Well-Known Member

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    DWFII, are you familiar with the story of Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby?
     
  7. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    DWFII, are you familiar with the story of Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby?
    Grew up with it...point taken. [​IMG]
     
  8. furo

    furo Well-Known Member

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    RJman, are you familiar with the story of the Seagull and the Kite?
     
  9. George

    George Well-Known Member

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    Running a machine in a shoe factory may take a certain skill but it pales in comparison to the skill it takes to do the same job by hand...that's the reason the machine is there to begin with. It doesn't require years of experience and training, it simplifies and dumbs down a job and in doing so speeds up the procedure, and the machine itself doesn't join unions or protest ill treatment or expect a pension when it is replaced or retired.
    Machines aren't necessarily used to dumb down or simplify an operation, nor are they necessarily used to replace manual labour, sometimes, they are used because it is impossible for a human to do it. I could give many examples, one is a simple fly press and at the opposite extreme would be silicon chip manufacture
    It stands to reason, if you think it through...if your great grandfather paid $100.00 for a top shelf shoe in 1920, for you to pay the same amount today necessitates a diminution of quality.
    Do you think so? I'm not so sure myself. Lets look at an extreme. Say we replaced a modern combat soldiers boots which are mass produced using modern techniques, for a pair made using 19th century artisanal methods. Which do you think would perform better? You could develop this argument to encompass many more items that are discussed in this forum. For example a watch. A modern day $100 watch is far superior from a purely functional perspective than a $100 watch from c1900. I could give many more examples. There is a tendency for people to romanticise about hand crafted, artisanal products. Not that there's anything wrong with that [​IMG]
     
  10. sully

    sully Well-Known Member

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    Not so...after making boots for nearly 40 years, I am enjoying the challenge of making shoes and would, frankly, rather make shoes.

    That said, good shoemakers are almost always bootmakers as well...and vice versa. It's the same Trade and the same techniques, considerations, materials.


    Are you sure the considerations for making a western cowboy boot are the same as for a mens dress shoe ? Sure they are both made of leather but are quite different products.
    I have read that in times gone by in the top ranks of bespoke work, makers would specialize in a certain type of footwear such as riding boots or ladies court shoes and not make all types of work.
    Can a maker switch from making boots to shoes with ease ?
     
  11. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    Machines aren't necessarily used to dumb down or simplify an operation, nor are they necessarily used to replace manual labour, sometimes, they are used because it is extremely difficult or at times impossible for a human to do it. I could give many examples, one is a simple fly press and at the opposite extreme would be silicon chip manufacture
    In the case of the silicon chip, there is no pre-industrial antecedent for comparison. Its own standards of quality are of a different order by virtue of when and where it arose than that of traditional Trades. I don't know what a fly press is...but again, I try very hard not to opine in too great a depth on subjects that I know next to nothing about. That said, and in line with my earlier remarks about machines being tools, some jobs only became possible as technology invented a tool to do it. However, if lifting a great weight or moving a huge amount of earth isn't by definition "dumbed down" I don't know what is. And in the context of a shoe factory, there is no machine that takes as much skill to operate as it takes to do the same job by hand. Period. Those who have never made shoes don't get a voice in this...neither do those who have only casually toured a workshop or factory. Somewhere in here the whole idea of human nature and economics has to enter into it. If human beings can do a job skillfully, quickly, and cheaply enough to generate not just their own upkeep but a proportionally higher income for a manager or owner...someone who doesn't do any real work...then a machine is not needed. If a human being cannot do that then he/she will be replaced. And since most jobs in pre-industrial societies were comprised of many tasks...often making a shoe, for instance, from beginning to end...the replacements for those human beings must wither have the same skill set and experience or the job must be broken down into smaller, less complicated bits--ie. it is dumbed down." More importantly, especially as it applies to the shoemaker and the whole notion of quality...there must be a human connection. The results must resonate with something inside of us to earn our respect and be termed quality. When there is little or no human involvement a machine becomes less a tool and more a stand-in for a human being. Because it is not, in fact, a human being with a brain and emotions and a sense of aesthetics...because it is mindless...what is produced is ticky-tacky, pure and simple. No highs no lows no failures, no excellence...no responsibility. And everything and everyone who comes into contact with that production loses a little bit of what makes them human trying to make it compatible with the reality of human existence.
    I simply don't agree with that. I think it is a bit arid for my tastes. As Bengal Strip and others have pointed out quality is more than functionality...or symmetry or efficiency or price. It is about the jewels in the movement, the materials used, and the way they are used. And yes it is about the way the product speaks to us both functionally and metaphysically. I have watches from several centuries. The modern ones seem to run fine until they don't. The old ones aren't as reliable at this point in their lives although they do still run. I'll take the antiques over the techno-glitz any day.
     
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  12. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    Are you sure the considerations for making a western cowboy boot are the same as for a mens dress shoe ? Sure they are both made of leather but are quite different products.
    I am quite sure.
    Not so much...there were men's makers and women's makers. But the difference was that men work often consisted of working with leather that was heavily pigmented with lamp black. Women's work was comprised of tapestry materials and silks and fine fabrics. A man who had lamp black under his nails could not work on a bone silk shoe.
    Aside from patterning what do you think is missing? Why is it that Lobbs of London (and many other makers of top shelf men's shoes characterize themselves as Bootmakers or Bottiers?
     
  13. fritzl

    fritzl Well-Known Member

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    I see furo went to the Mafoofan School of Debate.

    +1

    might be the haglund
     
  14. furo

    furo Well-Known Member

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    +1

    might be the haglund


    +2

    It was indeed
     
  15. furo

    furo Well-Known Member

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    Those who have never made shoes don't get a voice in this...neither do those who have only casually toured a workshop or factory.

    [​IMG]
     
  16. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG] Yet here you are saying you don't believe that it's harder to master a pottery wheel than hand building a coiled pot.
    No...again...I didn't say that. And it seems to me you're missing the point altogether. The degree of effort it takes to operate a machine or handle a tool is not the same as how much skill it takes to produce a given outcome. I have thrown pots on a potters wheel. I have made pottery by the coiled method. But I would never pose as an expert on the subject, never claim to be a potter or speak for potters nor would I try to pass off hearsay and speculation as credible argument. But all that's beside the point. Just as this bit of the thread is off topic. It's a red herring, not only because it doesn't deal with shoes or shoemaking, but just as importantly because it was introduced it to avoid confronting a lack of knowledge and experience with regard to shoemaking. The issue was always framed in the context of shoe factories and shoemaking simply because I try not to speculate about subjects I know little about. In that context, potter's wheels are necessarily a non sequitur.
     
  17. voxsartoria

    voxsartoria Well-Known Member

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    DWFII, what kind of clothes do you wear? Aside from your nativist Celtic garb.


    - B
     
  18. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
    Is this you in the mirror? It has nothing to do with arrogance and everything to do with ignorance. You know nothing about shoes or shoemaking. Nothing. Even touring a workshop didn't raise your awareness or level of understanding appreciably. Yet you prattle on so incautiously...never realizing that it's like speaking in tongues--your ignorance precludes any common ground for understanding or communication. My old dad said "opinions are like arseholes...everybody has one but they're not all worth sniffing."
     
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  19. weilian

    weilian Well-Known Member

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    Is this you in the mirror? It has nothing to do with arrogance and everything to do with ignorance.

    You know nothing about shoes or shoemaking. Nothing. Even touring a workshop didn't raise your awareness or level of understanding appreciably. Yet you prattle on so incautiously...never realizing that it's like speaking in tongues--your ignorance precludes any common ground for understanding or communication.

    My old dad said "opinions are like arseholes...everybody has one but they're not all worth sniffing."


    Are any worth sniffing? Licking is another matter.
     
    1 person likes this.
  20. Shikar

    Shikar Well-Known Member

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    This is an interesting thread, thanks for the insights.

    Regards.
     

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