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

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by DWFII, Aug 23, 2014.

  1. Zapasman

    Zapasman Well-Known Member

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    Exactly. Sorry to say but with self promoting and disjointed posts like yours,members must have lots of patience. Cheers
     
  2. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    Personally, I don't care one way or the other whether we (you and I) continue this discussion or not. I'm fine either way. Nor am I going to try and moderate the discussion to the point of shutting it down or...as you asked in a previous post...call you to task or delete your posts and photos for not agreeing with me. Not my remit, if nothing else. I'm not a moderator. So no worries there.

    That said, I feel compelled to point out that...as much as I admire John Lobb and their "we have turned our backs on the machine" ...in and of themselves, machines are not the problem.

    In the first place, there are very few makers...despite what they would have you believe...that don't use any machines. Sewing machines are the rule even in workshops like Lobbs St. James.

    You say "never, never using machines." Yet clearly...from the photos you've posted....you do use machines--a sewing machine is a machine. By definition.

    Another point that needs to be reiterated is that just because a maker does everything...or most things...by hand, doesn't make it Traditional or, more importantly, "good," much less "better" or "best."

    For instance...

    Skiving or clicking with disposable blades is not Traditional nor conducive to the further....and essential...skills that learning to sharpen a knife properly can confer.

    Using paraffin for your inseaming threads is neither Traditional nor as objectively suited to the goal of quality as making your own handwax with pitch and rosin.

    Using a "jerk needle" (hooked awl) for inseaming or outseaming (or any kind of seam) is neither Traditional nor anywhere near as good as using bristles and a shoemaker's stitch.

    Sewing the upper by hand at 10-12 stitches per inch is not particularly good, much less "fine," work and pretty far from Traditional when you consider the work that real masters have done in the past--64 stitches per inch. Even the apprenticeship program at Colonial Williamsburg here in the US demands that an apprentice can stitch at 16-18 spi (by eye and by hand) before he can graduate.

    Inseaming, by hand, at 2 stitches per inch is neither Traditional nor good work.

    Outsole stitching at 2-8 stitches per inch is neither Traditional nor especially remarkable. Doesn't matter if it's all done by hand or not. And nowhere near as fine or "tight" or as reliable a connection as 10spi done by a machine.

    Steel bristles and/ or needles are not Traditional by any definition that encompasses a respect for the Trade.

    Perhaps, in the end, it doesn't matter if it's Traditional or not as long as the results are as good or better than what the Traditions have achieved. Historic standards. Real, bona fide "masters." As long as the quality is there, IOW. That's a big assumption and a steep goal, in most cases, but maybe....

    But there's the problem--because, almost invariably, the Traditional standards are abandoned only because they demand more of us than we can or want to bring to the table. Never because doing it another way results in better quality. But rather because it is "faster" (more profitable, IOW) or more economical (more profitable) or...simply...just convenient (more profit).

    And it becomes a vicious circle--embracing non-traditional techniques almost always encourages... and makes it easier for us to accept...lower standards.

    But if the Trade is going extinct it is almost certainly, if not entirely, because we too easily (and too willingly) accept lower standards...even in ourselves.

    --
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2016
    2 people like this.
  3. brax

    brax Well-Known Member

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    While I don't agree with everything that DWFII writes, his post (above) is very well written and I share his thoughts. The traditional ways are not always (but rather just usually) the best way of doing things. Our move away from these traditional methods are again not always (but rather just usually) rooting in making things easier not better.
     
  4. Manuel

    Manuel Active Member

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    I agree as to the abandonment of traditional standards due to market requirements and obtaining more benefits and effectively, never because doing it another way results in better quality.

    But I don´t agree with DWII on reviews or appraisals he does.

    When I say: "never, never using machines". I refer to heavy machinery, Rapid type of sewing soles, Falan 750 type of blake sewing, machines assembling shoes ....... obviously a sewing machine ...... isn´t a heavy machine or influences the quality or tradition. Can you imagine some cuts shoes hand-sewn ?

    I don´t use waxed thread, I make my own handwax With pitch and rosin.

    I don´t understand the criticism of DWII to the distance between points, as a professional he should know that its function is not aesthetic, no points are not inside or outside, its function is only reinforcing, reinforcing an already stuck fence and over high adhesion gum, as a professional DWII should know that when 2,5- 3 mm rubber hand sewn, if the dots are too small in any tug raisins gum, sewing function is only to reinforce what already it is made, is a tradional and very durable system here, the problem is that nobody knows how is made.

    I can intuit even guess that DWII is an elderly person, (aged.... between 73-78) and anchored to a single system, so I understand him.

    I have visited this thread, http://www.styleforum.net/t/236180/my-oneboot-by-dwfii-updated-w-visit-to-dw and I have been very very disappointed, I will not criticize anything, DWII deserves my respect, everyone does what he has learned, now I understand why there isn´t live entertainment.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2016
  5. bdavro23

    bdavro23 Well-Known Member

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    With what, might I ask, are you disappointed? The boots in that thread are spectacular, so surely it cant be with that...
     
  6. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    I think you need a better translation app, or more study because the language clearly is a problem here. If you read what I wrote, you would realize that I never intentionally criticized any of your work. As it actually happened, my response to another member of the forum regarding a YouTube video (unattributed) was a little critical (although most of the criticism was about Youtube videos in general). But at the time, I didn't know who you were or that you had made that video. And I apologized for my remarks.

    Yes, I answered your defensiveness regarding "what are Traditional techniques" and your assertion that you don't use machines "never." Almost entirely focusing on language. On the face of it, neither of my remarks were about your work. If anything, they were simply about an all too common lazy use of the words and thoughtless assertions.

    A sewing machine is a machine...is a machine...is a machine...is a machine. And you never specified "heavy" machines...you simply said "no machines" "never." You'll have to forgive me if I think it a bit hypocritical (or perhaps "dissonant" is the better word) to make that distinction. Now you want to walk it all back...as if you didn't really mean the "never, never" bit.

    Almost all the rest of my remarks were about techniques themselves and the reasons why we abandon Traditional techniques and the excuses we make when we abandon them. And what the inevitable and certain consequences of doing that are. None of it was specific to you.

    That said, if we want to get into techniques and their rationales...several points can be made. My age has nothing to do with it (you are a bit high in your lowest guess) but maybe your age is a critical factor. Because the vast majority of people who abandon Traditional techniques (in favor of faster and less skilled and more profitable) are people who haven't the patience or the focus to master the Traditional skills.

    The reliance on cement is a good example. Do you think they had neoprene contact cements in 1767? or 1850? Or 1880? The case can be made that the 18th and 19th centuries were the Golden Age of Shoemaking (18th century for women's work, 19th century for men's work). No cement. Yet some of the finest shoes ever made were made using no cement. What would you do if you were suddenly dropped back into the 19th century? I suspect you'd have to find skills and methods that didn't rely on expediencies.

    And it is undeniable that cement is an expediency--fundamentally, it is not needed. But it makes things faster (and more profitable) and easier for those without the skills to do without. That's really the only rationale for using cement.

    But probably just as important in the larger scheme of things...for me at least (can't speak for you)...I find it very dissonant to use, much less rely, on a product that is both harmful to me and to the environment while at the same time being, objectively and demonstrably, unnecessary. If nothing else, if 12 stitches to the inch is excellent work when no cements are used, it only stops being excellent work when the maker is in too much of a hurry and too reliant on expediencies to bother. Then the definitions change... don't they.?

    Of course, I'm old and not as "moderne" and hip as you younger "shoemakers." I've had time...made time...to think about such things and to choose deliberately and mindfully how I want to exist in this world. I'm old enough (and curious enough) to have seen and experienced the work, the results, and the reasons for respecting and learning...and even mastering (to the extent I am capable)...Traditional work.

    Younger folks seldom have the time or patience...or the discipline...for such niceties.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2016
    4 people like this.
  7. Zapasman

    Zapasman Well-Known Member

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    It seems the "topic" continues on your side, I am glad of it.
    Should you be so much dissapointed about DW´s work, would you mind to share with us what did not you like and what are your alternatives to increase the final quality of DW´s work ?. That would be fantastic for many here as far as we consider DW´s work just amazing. Furtheremore, It seems to me that he is always open to learn new/better techniques (aspiring to get mastery as he said) so I am pretty sure he would apreciate to have your opinion too.

    On the other hand, I would like to see how do you prepare your insoles for the HW inseaming. So please, show us a picture of your work; I am sure you will be delighted to do so.

    Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2016
  8. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    I appreciate the kind words but if I had my druthers, I'd rather this thread didn't devolve into a pissing contest or an aesthetic critique of any maker's work. That's always been my policy--don't criticize or bad mouth any other maker's work. We can talk about techniques in a general sense...as I did, never making the connection between any particular maker and any particular technique. Much less knowing or acknowledging that a particular maker uses a particular technique.

    But we all have our training and we all have our own aesthetic sensibilities. and there is no fault in any of that.

    For instance, I like a bit more toe spring than most modern shoemakers--there is a logic and a mechanical and physiological theory that supports that idea but aesthetically it isn't currently popular. So I'm sure my work falls short of expectations in some circles. I've heard it before. Ad infinitum and ad nauseum. Etc,. etc., yada yada yada.

    Beyond that, the styling of the boots in that thread is 90% the customer's--that's what bespoke means. Not to mention the fact that the thread and the initial photos are 5 years old. I keep learning...

    If you don't keep learning, don't keep honing your skills ...if you stand still, IOW, the devil will catch you.
     
  9. Zapasman

    Zapasman Well-Known Member

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    I understand you point DW. However, I was not asking for subjective inputs such as boots model/design or aesthetics (customer´s decision) nor even fitting issues of course. I just asked Miguel to enlight us with better techniques and/or materials and components than the ones you use for the good of the Trade . The example would be the one you provided us with the link about the Hand Blake construction as a Traditional technique that adresses some flaws shown before. See if you keep learning with Miguel,you young man!![​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.
  10. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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  11. Zapasman

    Zapasman Well-Known Member

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  12. Manuel

    Manuel Active Member

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    I almost forgot, you take two plane tickets and come here and sit down next to me, on the workbench and work together ...... I´m sure we ended up being good friends.[​IMG]
    I finished my vacation last Monday, so now....... I don´t have much free time, I'm glad you have all the free time in the world.[​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2016
  13. vmss

    vmss Well-Known Member

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  14. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    Pretty well written and revealing...even if, for readers here, there's not much new.

    I particularly like the bit about 'potato bag stitching."
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2016
  15. ThunderMarch

    ThunderMarch Well-Known Member

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    Just a quick question DW, there was a statement in the article that stated it was disadvantageous that one of the insoles had "much left of the grain", "
    which is not to be recommended for an insole since it can crack".
    How is this so?
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2016
  16. Zapasman

    Zapasman Well-Known Member

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    ^I asked the same question to the blogger. I have one pair with that problem in the insole (slightly cracked) but I thought it was due to dryness. As far as I have several more pairs of this brand (bought at the same time and with the same extensive wear) I wasn´t sure if that issue was due to poor leather quality or dryness (bad maintenance) of this pair. Lately I have been applying B4 in the insole/lining.
     
  17. ntempleman

    ntempleman Well-Known Member

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    You should scrape or buff away the top ~0.1mm of the surface. That very finely fibred layer is very brittle, so if you leave it there it'll start to crack and these small cracks will spread further down into the meat of the leather - a bit like getting a chip your windscreen.
     
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  18. Zapasman

    Zapasman Well-Known Member

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    ^Thanks a lot Nicolas, I will do so. Should I keep using the conditioner afterwards?
     
  19. ntempleman

    ntempleman Well-Known Member

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    I mean as part of the shoemaking process, rather than any sort of shoe care regime. It's a bit tricky to do after the shoes are made, but if you have some medium grit sandpaper or wet& dry you can sand the insides down a bit. Cut two smallish squares and glue them together (so your fingers can grip on the back) then give it all a good rub down.
     
  20. Zapasman

    Zapasman Well-Known Member

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    I will do so with the help of my cobbler. The affected area is where the insole bends.

    Thanks again for your help.

    PS.-I just apply B4 on the upper/linning of my shoes once a year. I thought that the same conditioner could relieve the cracks of this pair, but it seems that is not good solution.
     

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