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Shoes and Craft

A shoemaker's blog about shoemaking

Frankly: teaching student is loosing energy, time and a lot efforts, if you can make bespoke shoes in the same time. But teaching is not just for business. It is not a short term income – this is duty for the CRAFT you get everything from. Knowledge is not your property (even if it seems o be like that), but  a gift, a loan you get from your master, but you have to give back to your apprentices. This is my ars poetica about the knowledge I have, so I teach, even if it is not a good business. (OK, don’t pity my – I just say, that it is not the most effective way to make money).

Fake Knowledge

And let’s talk about the title of this post: fake knowledge. If you want to learn a traditional craft, you pay a lot: your time, your holiday – away from your work, hotels, travelling, course fees. And there are schools, teachers, courses, you enter and you come away with a useless, stupid knowledge about footwear (because I cannot call them SHOES). Most of these guys never start to make shoes anymore! Let me explain you this with an easy example, before someone start to conveniece me, that fake knowledge if enough for a hobby crafter. (no)

If you want to go to English speaking country, you must prepare yourself with some basic sentences, words – so you go to a school. Can you imagine the situation, when you arrive, then you realize that your knowledge doesn’t worth a shit? You can’t talk, explain yourself, not even read a sentence, people don’t understand you. So, what is the problem? You don’t want to be a translator no? Just a “hobby” traveller..

That is my problem. Don’t consider yourself only a hobby crafter. You are a beginner – you start to go on a road, which should lead to the good direction, and that is your masters responsibility – but choosing your master is yours. So choose carefully!

How to Choose Your Teacher?

I would suggest, to consider these:

  1. Select someone to teach you a craft who is a certified craftmen. I don’t mean a master – that is almost impossible to find, but at least a proper certificate should be on the wall. You can practice a craft without certification, but DON’T TEACH.
  2. Check her/his products! That is what you want to make? As a customer would you pay for it? Do you think you can learn it in a few days? (then go away quickly)
  3. Does she/he practice the craft in real life or just teach? Why she/he doesn’t make products for sell? (don’t believe “commited to teach” bullshit)
  4. Talk other students! Are they happy with the knowledge they got? Do they continue that craft? Do they get support from their teacher after the course?
  5. Is she/he respected by other craftsmen in the trade? If not why not?

How Was it in the Good Old Days?

Easily:

if you were a master you could run a workshop.

If you had certificate in a craft you could make products.

If you didn’t have any certificate, and you made products from that craft – you were went away from that city and you lost all of your properties. You could wirk a lot as a fake craftsman.

And How it is Now?

In the United States you can claim that you are a shoemaker, even master shoemaker without any certificate. This is sad for me. There are no excuse for that – and I heard many: “we are a young nation, we don’t have traditions”.. bullshit. That always makes me mad. My family is in the leathercaft for many generations. We always lived for perfection, and I have to face with fake craftsmen in the 21st century. My poor grandpa – better that you don’t see this.

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ps. I didn’t mentioned names and schools – please don’t do that in posts.  And I would like to say: there are good teachers and good schools. Find those ones!

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