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Are "handmade" shoes handmade?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Nerkg, Feb 1, 2012.

  1. Son Of Saphir

    Son Of Saphir Senior member

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    will contact you :cheers:
     
  2. sully

    sully Senior member

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    You did quote my post,and I only referred to hand welting so I am just being accurate about what I said not what you think I said.
     
  3. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Oh geeze why do you always want to get into a pyssing match?!


    • In post 19 you make reference to a lady shoemaker doing fine hand work such as the closing work done in 1840 in the photo of the Attewell boot.
    • In post #21, Gdot picked it up and asked about you about synthetics.
    • In post #24, I started off addressing your remark about closing work and synthetics but then segued into a discussion about natural vs synthetic inseaming threads.
    • In post #37, you quoted my entire response to Gdot...including the bit about top stitching...and then continued by stating that you mention handwelting "only to illustrate that with the best will in the world a modern shoemaker would be hard pushed to reproduce work as fine as the 'old school' " If you were speaking about only inseaming, how "fine" is that? How fine is "fine?" Nowhere in this whole discussion has anyone mentioned frequency in the context of inseaming. Nor gilding the holdfast, either. So what's your definition of "fine as the old school?"
    • At which point in post #49, I respond with a quick reiteration of my point about upper work (if only for others who might be reading these remarks) and then go on to devote the rest of my response to discussing inseaming and the materials involved.
    • Which brings us full circle doesn't it?

    Who the fvk cares?? I'm not having this discussion with just you alone. None of us are having this discussion in a vacuum. I suspect even with the best of intents I couldn't have this discussion with you alone...you're not interested what others are saying.

    I didn't read anything into your remarks that weren't there--the words were there. If, god forbid, I thought I saw a continuity in your thinking or an involvement in the larger discussion, that (apparently) wasn't there, my apologies.

    If I took the time to address other issues that both you and others had raised in conjunction with the broader discussion, and that put your teeth on edge...oh, well.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2012
  4. jimmyshoe

    jimmyshoe Active Member

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    I've just asked a West End closer friend and she uses synthetic thread in her post machine and our trusty hemp for hand work - stitching aprons on loafers, stay stitches on facings etc.

    Gimping will have no effect on the leather and is purely an aesthetic choice. Punching, on the other hand does cause weak spots across the joint over time. And the supposed original purpose of brogueing, to let the water out of your shoes, is no longer valid because the lining is not punched too.

    And my opinion on the machine vs hand finishing issue is simple. Hand finishing is best because it forces you to spend the necessary time to do the job right. So you end up with a better finish. The temptation with machines is to rush through and do the job "well enough". Not my ethos at all. No machines in my workshop!

    Plus, what marks us out as handsewn shoemakers is doing it by hand. That is part of what customers are paying for. For more thoughts on this see

    http://carreducker.blogspot.com/2011/11/handmade.html

    And

    http://carreducker.blogspot.com/2011/11/handmade-2.html
     
  5. jimmyshoe

    jimmyshoe Active Member

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    PS Son of Saphir, look forward to hearing from you
     
  6. skytop

    skytop New Member

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    Thanks for posting the fabulous Lobb video! Really puts a 'face' on the name and brand for me.
     
  7. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I always thought those were good essays, James. I think they are what made your blog a weekly "must" for me. I have read every single one of your entries and never found one that I didn't understand and appreciate...both from a technical POV, as well as the philosophical.
     
  8. NORE

    NORE Senior member

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    + a beejillionelleventyone.
     
  9. jimmyshoe

    jimmyshoe Active Member

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    Thanks DW. That means a lot to me, James
     
  10. Nerkg

    Nerkg Senior member

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    How did you guys get into making shoes? What's your story..
     
  11. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I came back from SE Asia with little or no direction and feeling restless. I went to college for several years and then kind of kicked around the country.

    Eventually I got a chance to "apprentice" with an old saddlemaker--Frank Finch--who had ridden across the northern tier states in his youth going from one rodeo to another. Sleeping under the stars with his bedroll, woolies, and his saddle for a pillow. True story. With his rodeo winnings--him and another feller won the Wild Horse race event at the 1934 (?) National Rodeo Finals in Madison Square Garden--he was able to put himself through college and obtain a commission in the Army, ending up a Colonel.

    I would clean out his horse barn for lessons. But at bottom I hadn't grown up in the culture nor was I the kind of horseman that a real good saddlemaker needs to be. I was, even then, more interested in boots than saddles. And I wore boots so I was in a better position to evaluate them.

    He had a fire at this place and his old bunkhouse burnt down. He managed to save some of his mementos from that time and among them were a pair of Hyer boot-shoes that he had made in 1934...with some of the winnings from the National. He gave those shoes to me (I later donated them to the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City) and that really set me on my path.

    A few years later I visited a friend in Billings Montana who was in pretty much the same situation with a bootmaker--Mike Ives--that I had been with the saddlemaker. Ives took a liking to me, and my desire to learn bootmaking, and offered to teach me. I jumped at the chance.

    That was more than forty years ago. I am still learning.

    Although I have spent most of my career making boots, about six years ago, I decided to start making high end men's shoes--bootmaking is shoemaking...and, to some degree, vice versa.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2012
  12. ncdobson

    ncdobson Senior member

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    Wow, DWF. Thanks for sharing that story.

    Nick D.
     
  13. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    You're welcome.:cheers:
     
  14. sstomcat

    sstomcat Senior member

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    Pretty thought provoking...
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2012
  15. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Kind of OT but when I was younger I attended a lot of "event"--shows, "Gatherin's" and the like, to promote my work. Most of the time these events focused on "Cowboy Poetry" --nothing real elevated but told around the campfire when men spent a lot of time on the trail. And sometimes approaching the level of a Robert Service or even a Rudyard Kipling.

    In any case, I wrote several poems (doggerel, really) myself around that time, and actually got one of them published and got paid for it.

    But my best, I think, was one I wrote about Frank Finch (the saddlemaker) called Handy. It's here for anyone that's interested.

    Don't expect much...

    :tinfoil:
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2012
  16. grimslade

    grimslade Senior member

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    Great story, DWF. Thanks for sharing it.
     
  17. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    :fonz:
     
  18. meister

    meister Senior member

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    Every trail a man rides down is changed forever by his passing;
    The twig is bent, the stone is turned--each adding, in a fashion,
    To the markers that define the path and guide those who come after...
    Who share the skill, the lore and even common laughter.


    Thanks for those. Of course your old inspiration has a little of the great Aussie man himself RM (Reg) Williams.
    http://www.southaustralianhistory.com.au/rmwilliams.htm


    After his experience in the Adelaide Hills the young Williams family moved to the northern Flinders Ranges where they set up camp at Italowie Gorge. Once again he went sinking wells, this time in the Gammon Ranges and other places in the north. On one occasion he dug 4 wells up to 25 metres, 'all by hand and some with hammer and tap steel'. Then he found water at 3 metres in a good soakage well at Nepabunna. He most probably would have stayed in this line of business had it not been for getting to know Michael George Smith. After meeting Smith, better known as Dollar Mick, his life took a different direction.

    Dollar Mick had married an Aboriginal woman and had a son who worked around the pastoral properties. Mick knew how to make pack saddles and with RM perfected the art of boot making with a single piece of leather. They worked from a pattern cut out from a kerosene tin. Later RM said that 'Mick was better at stitching than himself. For two years we entertained travellers with our products and our camp fire was a meeting place for people from far and near.


    During the early 1930s RM returned to Adelaide for work. He had been employed for a short time at Sidney Kidman's Eringa Station. In 1934 he made his first of many pack saddles for Kidman and opened a workshop at 5 Percy Street Prospect, Adelaide. Now his remarkable skills of boot making and leatherwork in general could be developed even further. The business soon developed into a far bigger concern than he had expected. Apart from supplying the Australian marked it also exported its merchandise overseas. The first overseas order came from the King of Nepal. Since then boots and other articles have been sold to England, USA, Europe, Canada, Falklands Islands and Indonesia. Even President Clinton has been seen wearing RM boots in the White House. Since the opening of his factory millions of pairs of booth have been produced.

    Eventually the business became a multi million dollar enterprise. This according to RM was mainly because 'the Australian stockmen recognised me as one of their own. My story was their story, a camel man, stockman, well sinker, workmate'.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2012
  19. jimmyshoe

    jimmyshoe Active Member

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    After leaving university with a degree in psychology and little inclination to knuckle down, I decided on an adventure and went to live in Barcelona with the intention of learning Spanish and moving on to Argentina. I was an English teacher and discovered the Guild Of Shoemakers shoemaking school, so I did a pattern making course and a making course. From there, I found a father and son shoemaking team called Ponsa (now defunct) who let me make shoes with them in my spare time. They helped and encouraged me enormously. I made about 15 pairs of shoes with them.

    Having decided I did not want to be a teacher for ever, I returned to London. I had a plan A, which was to apply to John Lobb to do an apprenticeship.

    Luckily for me, they said yes and I started straight away. They sent me to one of their master shoemakers called Paul Wilson (who now works for John Lobb in New York). I spent nearly four years with him and then became a self employed shoemaker.

    While I was an apprentice, I met my business partner Deborah Carré who was also training with Paul. She had a grant from the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust to pay for her apprenticeship. She was also a career changer having worked in PR for years.

    We both went our separate ways for a while but kept in touch. While making for John Lobb, I started teaching handsewn shoemaking at Cordwainers College in Hackney, London and at the London College of Fashion.

    We decided to start our own company in 2004 and so carréducker was born. We have been working ever since, growing the business, struggling forward and staying alive. We have a workshop in Bloomsbury, London and in 2010 we opened a concession in Gieves and Hawkes on Savile Row which was a great move for us.

    In 2006 we started our own shoemaking school and we do intensive courses 3 times a year in London and New York. These are very successful and were the catalyst for starting our blog which is basically our way of sharing our knowledge and promoting the trade (which we are very passionate about). This year we are starting a weekly 3 hour class for those who cannot find the time for an intensive course.

    And that is about it.

    If you want to be a shoemaker, you can do it. You need patience and tenacity and a sprinkle of good fortune.

    Thanks, James
     
    1 person likes this.
  20. sstomcat

    sstomcat Senior member

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    Thank you for sharing.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2012

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