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

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

  1. Manuel

    Manuel Active Member

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    I see that you love shoemaking ..... but I think you've never seen it work really live a true craftsman custom footwear.

    You cannot understand and you don`t know what is talking, there are numerous techniques in the construction of footwear and manual blake system has been one of them, the master must and need to knowledge all technical.....but this isnt mean any problem for me ,I've always done and the customer has had a shoe made as saving a considerable amount of money.
    The time I spend on sewing a single shoe is 40 minutes if it is complete and 30 if only the midsole, this type of stitching cannot be compared with the sewing machine.
     
  2. Manuel

    Manuel Active Member

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    I understand your surprise but this is very very easy.
    The mastery of the craft is shown working, just that easy.
    You should sit on the bench and you show how things are done by hand so everyone can see developing your techniques.
    It is very easy to talk and talk ....
    The Best.
     
  3. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    I agree. It is not easy to make a video. I was making videos about shoemaking techniques before all these YouTube videos on shoemaking got popular. And that was with video cameras that used tape. I know how hard it is ...esp. to make a video that actually educates in a responsible way.

    But when it comes to YouTube, you would never know that, simply because there are so many people...mostly amateurs...making videos. If it is so hard, why are so many doing it?

    Beyond that, it is "surprising," yes...and perhaps revealing, even misleading...that the video above doesn't show the shoemaker Blake stitching around the toe--deep in the forepart.

    If there is a criticism here it is not so much that there aren't other ways of doing things...there are (although not all are Traditional or even "best practices")...but that not even the viewer can know what is going on (or what is possible much less "right") simply because the video is incomplete. I noticed that the video jumps from one side of the shoe at 1:42 to the other side at 1:43.

    Parenthetically, I also noticed that the shoemaker is bending the forepart of the shoe as he sews--an issue I remarked upon in my previous post.

    Finally, I looked at the video, I wonder if you looked at the link I provided? And for what it's worth, I was sitting at a bench when those photos were taken.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2016
  4. Manuel

    Manuel Active Member

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  5. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    So...I am guessing that you are the one who made that YouTube video??? I apologize if I put you on the spot.

    Your hand welted shoes are fine. I don't know why you posted them. How do they add to the conversation? Do you need to see photos of my work? I don't see how it's relevant but I can post some if you want.

    My point is, as I said in the last several posts, that there is a Traditional way to do channel stitching... one that goes back to 1767 or thereabouts...and that it addresses the issues of stitching down in the toe even on the softest leathers. It's slow but gives the best quality. If speed is your goal, a McKay machine would allow you to do the same job in less than 5 minutes.

    And my other point is that YouTube videos are near-as-nevermind worthless for responsibly teaching Traditional skills--they are more for showing off than for teaching.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2016
  6. Manuel

    Manuel Active Member

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    Yes, I´m the shoemaker and the person who recorded the videos. My English is poor so I'm sorry if I don´t express properly.
    I have seen his work and there are things I like and some that I don't like.

    The speed manually sewing is a skill, I work for people making custom shoes and they don't want sewing machine, so this isn't the goal.
    I'm 50 years and started sewing with 13 years I work for a private company making only custom footwear for 30 years, I know all the techniques and I make all the work alone, even lasts is Crafting in addition to cutting, sewing machine, shoe mold, hand sewing, finishing and deliver the shoes,
    it'is very normal for me.
    I'll upload anything else, I think we are passionate about shoemaking.
     
  7. Zapasman

    Zapasman Well-Known Member

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    I do not understand at all what are you trying to tell us with your first post in this thread. Are we taking about myself, your shoemaking knowledge or the hand Blake technique you execute in your YouTube video that I posted before to get some inputs from experts here?. I encourage you to contribute here in a different way.. I might not understand some shoemaking techniques so that is what it brings me here; to ask and get accurate information from experts. Hope this clarifies your thinking.

    PS.-With all due respect but time involved does not mean excellent work, so maybe the key factor is not there.
     
  8. Manuel

    Manuel Active Member

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    I have seen that you are a great professional, I said I don't like things, but not from you but from the toes of some models of shoes you have.
    I also agree with you, on the Internet there are many people who don`t show anything and they only want publicity, Í'm not one.
    Why so much interest to see how the toe of shoes are sewn ?, The video was cut because it was too long, but sewing the toe isn't difficult, you just have to connect the wires, just that, no more.
    I leave a link with the process of building these tasseled loafer as, I hope you like.
    I think I've spent a lot of time locked in a room and I haven't noticed that shoemaking is virtually extinct, people don't know work if they don't have machines.

    [​IMG]




    [​IMG]
    The link: https://calzadoamedidablog.wordpress.com/2016/08/14/loafer-con-borlas-bespoke/

    A greeting.
     
  9. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    The problem is that almost without exception the people viewing those videos on the Internet are not really interested in doing things the right and Traditional way. "Best practices ain't in it" to paraphrase Patrick O'Brian.

    But there is an unspoken question that gets asked...must be asked... when someone posts a video on YouTube, as well as when someone views a video--"what is the reason for doing it this way?"

    The answer is almost never "because it makes a better shoe." The real, honest answer is invariably "because it is faster and cheaper and takes less skill." Less energy, less focus, less time mastering a skill.

    [This is not a criticism of you or your motives but rather a long standing objection to the "dumbing down" of a venerable, Traditional Craft. If only because it is going extinct...and for precisely that reason.]


    Simply because I know what is involved. Because feeding bristles into a hole down in the toe of the shoe (where you cannot see the hole) is nearly impossible. And it is even more impossible when the toe of the shoe is smaller than the hands of the maker. And more often than not, esp. on small shoes, the shoe must be bent to get even your fingers down in there.

    I don't have all that much problem with the basic sewing technique demonstrated in the video, but the Traditional channel stitching technique addresses the problems of sewing blind and not bending or twisting the shoe. It addresses the problem of stitching down in the toe of an oxford--where the tongue won't open up near as much as on a man's chukka.

    And the fact that it does address those problems raises another question--"why not do it the Traditional way?"

    I don't like to think about the answer.

    PS...I like the loafers, and I agree 100% with your "people don't know work if they don't have machines."

    --
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2016
  10. Manuel

    Manuel Active Member

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    Hi Zapasman, Could you explain this: Zapasman said in other forum "(Por ejemplo, considero que realizar una construcción Blake a mano, no aporta nada al zapato y conlleva mucho esfuerzo). Perhaps.... I can help you.
    Another thing, you said too: "
    Respecto a rehacer (recrafting y no resoling) un buen zapato tanto Bespoke o fábrica, requiere de horma original para llevar el zapato a su estado original sino deseamos que la forma del mismo quede en entredicho. Para mí, el asentado en su horma original es impepinable. Nada de la "planta"; la horma entera o podrías obtener algo muy diferente a lo que es tu pié o la horma que se ajusta tu pié."

    This statement implies that it isn't possible to reset a shoe if you don't have your own mold, this means that if the factory closes and want to fix the shoe and leave it as it was ...... is impossible.
    This shows that you really have seen craftsmen but maybe you have not seen everything.
    Well, you are wrong, it's perfectly possible and with a very very small margin of error .practically there would be no any mistake,

    Affectionately ...... You still have not seen it all and is a real pleasure talking to you shoes and techniques.

    https://calzadoamedidablog.wordpress.com/2016/08/14/loafer-con-borlas-bespoke/ I hope you like it.

    The best.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  11. Zapasman

    Zapasman Well-Known Member

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    I am starting to think you are obsessed with myself Manuel. Or.... wait..is it yourself???. Again, I am just a shoe aficionado as you mentioned before but as a member, older than you here, I have the generosity to tell you the following:

    First of all, It seems to me that you have not read anything from my previous post. . You quote someone´s posts everytime and I see no discussion at all about the content of the issue/thread. The example is being clear with regards the technique you use; no answers, no reasoning nor discussion about the possible flaws pointed out, , not even to thank your colleges to show you different/Traditional ways of doing the same construction without distorting the shoe upper. To focus on the discussion is important, although I understand the language barrier.


    Second, if you want me to explain you some comments made by myself in some other places, ask me to do so there. I will be pleased to give you my inputs in the right place. Members here are not interested about those comments of mine. Hope you finally understand.

    Finally , let me advise you that if you want to show/share your work and knowledge in SF, this is not the correct thread. I would recommend you to create a new one, but maybe you will have to pay. Moderators are always watching.[​IMG]

    Cheers.

    PS.-Your blog is awesome


     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2016
  12. Manuel

    Manuel Active Member

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    Sorry for delay DWFII,
    I read your post several times and I'm totally agree with you, you also responds very well to his own question, but I must say to you that my only reason to show these videos is to share with others professional different ways of doing things.
    I think.... I've spent many years away from the reality of the world with respect to shoemaking and...... when I "woke up" I see the craft and old techniques have disappeared! At least here, in Spain.

    Dear moderators,
    If you think I should delete any messages or I had breached any rule, I appreciate you let me know, I haven't any problem to delete it.
     
  13. Manuel

    Manuel Active Member

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    I understand very well now,. We're going to the technical part,
    You shouldn't use bristles for this type of sewing, for sewn type blake manually you only need some needles properly prepared, futhermore ,you don't need to see the hole and no matter if the the toe of the shoe is smaller or larger. You must remember; the shoes musn't be bent, never never.

    Well you said. "Why not do it the traditional way?" But......What is the traditional way?

    Everyone doesn't have the same purchasing power, many people want a good shoe but cannot pay the high cost,the different ways of doing things make the price may be lowered without lowering excess quality shoe.

    I hope the language isn't a problem to exchange ideas.
    I will try to record a video for you doing different types of assembly and finishing.
    I've never had problems in any forum, I'd like to leave a link where I make other craft, you have to register but I think you'll like, then we'll talk.
    http://www.luthiercom.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=59
    http://www.luthiercom.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=2081
    A greeting.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2016
  14. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    First, if I recall correctly, the Oxford English dictionary defines "Traditional" as being passed down from one generation to another. It cannot be just something that you yourself have started doing and have done for 10 or 20 years. Even if it is annually and faithfully. I realize that English is not your native tongue but that said, we are not talking about "common (emphasis 'common') practices" when we talk about Traditions.

    In 1767, when. M. de Garsault wrote Art du Cordonnier, steel needles may not have even been invented. But whether or not they had been, every shoemaker in the Western world used hog's bristles. So, using hog's bristles is the Traditional way. And those of us that have been trained...at least to some extent ...in Traditional shoemaking still use and highly regard bristles. They may be nylon bristles now, due to the scarcity of Russia black or India white boar's bristles...esp. in 6"-9" lengths...but the functionality and usage is nearly identical.

    As well as the advantages of a bristle over steel needles or even wire bristles.

    I, for one, have used both in all variations and I would never, ever, use a needle or wire bristle when I could use a nylon or boar's bristle. Both nylon and boars bristles will "turn the corner" better than steel and you can use a heavier thread than with steel simply because, if you know how to properly make a lingle and taw, there are only two thicknesses of thread in the hole at any given time rather than close to four. And, of course, that also allows you to make your holes smaller.

    In fact, I often wonder why any dedicated shoemaker would ever use steel needles or bristles--it begs the question: "what is gained?" In my opinion, having used both, the answer...the honest answer, IMO...is "nothing" except speed, perhaps, esp. in set up.

    And I suspect that the reluctance...or inability....to learn to make a lingel and taw and a proper handwax is invariably the governing reason for resorting to steel bristles and / or pre-made, paraffin waxed threads. Using a steel bristle...it seems to me...is an easy "out"--it relieves a maker (?) of having to master another one of those tedious and arcane skills that are so frustrating to the novice.

    "Mastery" ain't in it...to, once again, paraphrase Patrick O'Brian. .

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  15. JermynStreet

    JermynStreet Well-Known Member

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    How can one puncture thick leather with a hog bristle? Wouldn't it be too flexible?
     
  16. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    Yes, of course. That's why shoemakers have "awls." The hole is made first.

    Once upon a time awls were bone. Now they are steel.

    The 1898 Barnsley catalogue had three pages of awls on offer.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
  17. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    Awls--c.1898

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    --
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
  18. Manuel

    Manuel Active Member

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    Obviously English is not my native tongue but I understand perfectly the term "common practices".

    The languaje has never been any problem for me, if I do not understand something; I study, translate, learn and work. Again.....I work, I study, I translate, I ask other people and learn .... and if the end, I don´t get it, I don´t participate, but I'm still learning and very important: Always, always I like to respect the rules. It is a disgrace? I don´t think so.

    From his words I gather you are anchored in tradition, even, I would say that you have never practiced this form of sewing because you consider absurd, but.... you must remember that there are other ancient forms and other techniques of work, these forms and techniques are neither better nor worse than which have always used and the important thing is to know.

    Now, I consider absurd upload a video for you, showing the different techniques that have been practiced here for hundreds years.

    Again, not everyone can afford 1000,2000, or 3000 $ for a pair of boots or shoes

    Boar bristles have been always used here, but the difficulty to find them gave way to the needles, but the work, measures, lasts or molds, sewing and finishing is done as hundreds years ago.... at least for me.

    I would like to see how you make your own lasts, I would like to see how you take your measures to customers, as you cut patterns, as you sew machine, as plants placed, as riding his boots or shoes ..... all the process made by yourself. It would be extraordinary for me.

    I never would have imagined that change a boar bristle by a sewing needle could break the traditions or rules of participation in this thread. You're right, so I apologize and I encourage you to delete images, links and any message that could have broken the rules of this thread.
    I apologize again.
     
  19. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    No need to apologize. But I would point out that in post #1513 you questioned "what is the Traditional way " as if it were some relative concept that everyone gets to define as they please. I simply observed that words do have meaning and in English "Traditional" doesn't mean "common practices," or old habits, or anything like that.

    And that the Traditional way is with bristles, not steel needles. And describe by M. Garsault in 1767.

    You also made the claim in post # 1502, that what you were doing was masterly--"The mastery of the craft is shown working." Personally I think if a person is going to make that kind of claim they ought to be able to show how it is true. Not just say "it is, it is."

    I don't claim "mastery" for anything I do...I simply aspire to mastery. And regard it as a lifelong journey. Part of that means that if I can't do it as well as it was done Traditionally...as the old, dead, real masters did it... I can't call myself a master or claim that my work is "mastery."

    It is true that I don't have any experience...much less mastery...doing channel stitching (hand sewn Blake) the way you do it. The question I keep coming back to, however, is "why would I want to?" I already know and have some skill in a far older and perfectly adequate technique that seems to address issues that other techniques (such as yours) do not.

    If I read your posts correctly you seem to be saying you do it that way because it is fast, and because it is fast it allows you to charge less for a pair of shoes. But take that logic to its natural conclusion and one wonders why you don't own a McKay machine. That would be even faster and allow you to charge even less.

    There's something dissonant...or at least it makes me uncomfortable...in such thinking. It's like "hand sewn Goodyear" (inseaming to gemming)--it's a rather obtuse answer to a question that never needed to be asked. And in the end, IMO, nothing objectively good is gained and much is lost.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
    2 people like this.
  20. Manuel

    Manuel Active Member

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    There is nothing dissonant and you shouldn´t feel uncomfortable because you haven´t played well, it's normal.
    A good shoes or a good boots made entirely by hand (bespoke shoes) never, never are cheap.

    It is very easy, a good craftsman, (for me), is required to master all techniques.
    If you master all the techniques and all processes can give variety to the customer and solve all the problems that may arise, otherwise, you will always depend on the other artisans; cutters, assemblers, Lasters teachers ......

    If a shoe made with traditional sewn or common technical or traditional techniques,( I understand, each term has a meaning) "for example", costs 5000 $ you can also offer another model with different technique to 4500 $ and if the customer only has 4000$ can also make another model with hand-stitched made at the top, or......... sewn Norwegian style for example.....

    The price depends on the work, that doesn´t mean they are cheap, that means that as a good craftsman and "a good teacher" can offer different products made in different ways and with different sewn, always respecting the traditional techniques, and never, never using machines, but there is a very importan thing, you must provide the highest quality and a perfect fit, this last is the most important. (A perfect fit).

    If you master only one technique you can offer only a way of working.
    It´s very simple for me, the customer is "the boss and who pays".

    Personally I think we have reached the end of the topic.
    It´s has been a pleasure for me to discuss with you.
    Thank you for your patience.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2016

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