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Shoes and Craft

A shoemaker's blog about shoemaking

This text has been copied from the thread what I started as a blog in styleforum.net 1 year ago.
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This is a short story, but let me talk about first the Hungarian shoe industry. A few decades ago it was one of the most important industry. You could find shoemaker workshops, factories everywhere in the country – the huge market of Soviet Union bought the 90% percent of the production – actually everything. Shoemaker (and manufacturer) education was very popular, but – to tell the truth – they didn’t raised up to a high level. The “glory” of master craftsmen, which existed 100 years ago – disappeared.

School

It was a real dilemma for me – I wanted to learn something higher level, as I counted to be an intelligent student in my schools. For a shoemaker… hmm.. I was considered to be too good. On the other hand, in the glorious times at least one member from a generation learnt leathercraft in my family. It is for minimum 6 generation (what I am sure), but most probably much more. So I didn’t know: should I follow family traditions? Should I learn in high school and go to university?

 

Both

I did both. I inscribed to two schools (with some administrational cheat – it wasn’t legal. first I should have to finish the first, then go to the second one) and I attended shoemaker school in the morning, then run to the high school at the evening. The first sometimes started at 6.30 (workshop started early), and as I had to travel more than one hour – you can imagine how early I had to wake up. Practically I was sleeping during teethwashing, and learnt to sleep in the bus (if I could sit – which didn’t happened too many times). The evening high school was until 9 pm, so I could catch the 9.30 bus – I also learnt to sleep 25 minutes, and wake up at the right bus stop.

My school was in Újpest – traditionally the shoemaker center of Budapest. Hopefully our program was complete – we learnt all the traditional and modern technologies, even could go to a real workshop and practice shoemaking there.

Sad, but true: in the last 20 years shoemaking industry the last 25 years disappeared in Hungary. Only a few workshop (mine too) and a very few factory exist, nothing more. after a few years of working (and taking valueable experience in hadmade men shoes, ballet shoes, repair work), I left the profession. I inscribed to a university and get a degree in economics. (yes, I am an certified economist too). I worked in banks, advertising agencies, run my own design company, selling softwares in far east. But making papers, running “projects”, keeping presentations, planning budgets, design software ergonomy, marketing campaign.. etc. – these are not “real” things. Sure, you can get a lot of money from it – I did too, not so much but OK.. and what should I say to my son in a day when he asks me what did do? Should I say that bullshit? “I wrote nice papers and earn money”. And what will happen to my creativity? As a man I want to “create”. Not papers – something real. Something to use, wear, anything, but not papers anymore. And I made the decision: I will go back – I will be a shoemaker again. I will not take care about the extremly low respect of my profession in Hungary – I will make shoes!

The way to reheel my family brand is an other long story. This was the story how did I became a shoemaker and how did I do it again.

I hope you enjoyed.

ps. I hoep I didn’t hurt anyone, who still makes “papers”. I keep that also important – I just don’t intend to make that anymore.

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