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Shoes and Craft

A shoemaker's blog about shoemaking

“Shoemakers, who become rare in modern times, shouldn’t be confused with cobblers or shoe repairers. Most shoemakers are capable of doing repairs, but this is usually considered inferior work and left to a different type of craftsman. While Northampton football team may, perhaps self-mockingly, be called the Cobblers, shoemakers would be offended if so called.”

Shoemaking, June Swann, Shire Publications Ltd. Shire Album 155 ISBN 0-85263-778-0

It couldn’t be said better. People tend to be forget the differences between this. Don’t misunderstand me: I don’t keep any craft inferior to shoemaking, this is not the problem. (Although in many countries – a shoemaker is inferior, very low cast). Let’s see an example: if you call a brain surgeon “butcher” (Not involving that butcher is a lower cast, right?), they might be upset. (by the way this story is not entirely fictional)

Once I was working on a pair of french boxcalf oxford and a visitor came in, asking me if I am a cobbler. ‘No Sir, I am a shoemaker and I am not repairing, but making these shoes’, but I can continue the list of these stories – just like many of my colleagues. I guess this happens anyway, and as we disappear it will happen more and more. Even in Hungary – one of the countries, which have a huge background and tradition in shoemaking, people tend to believe that shoemakers only repair shoes. It is true – when I told people, that I am a shoemaker, they asked me about it and were really much surprised, when I told them, that I don’t make any repair work at all. they were shocked – then what do I do? I make shoes. Yes, it is possible to make shoes.

Anyway – messing up crafts is not cool, but we can’t do much about it. Apparently TV channels find only cooking, tattooing, and cupcake making interesting (it was tempting to continue this list, but I could resist), so people know at least 3 scallop recipes, and what how long they should be cooked to reach the perfect tenderness, they can define what “tribal tattoo” is or how to organize making 2000 cupcakes in one night, but have no idea what counts to be handmade in the shoe business or if it is even possible to be made locally. They also don’t know that shoemakers still exist and the part of the reasons that we are dying out is their ignorance.

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