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Shoes and Craft

A shoemaker's blog about shoemaking

I believe that some time ago, I talked about this.

This old Japanese guy is acknowledged as the best sushi chef in the world. Nothing special, right? You born into it, you learn it, and you are there… lucky one, hmm? But… when you watch the movie, you realize, that he offers apprenticeship options. 10 years. Only after this term he issues the degree (actually I can imagine that it is very easy to find a job with that anywhere in the world, including Japan). The learning process is humiliating. No fancy sushis in the first years, only folding hot towels, wash squids, etc. (it worth to watch the movie).

Why am I talking about raw fish food? I am not. I am talking about the learning process and the path you achieve something. I remember, when I was a student, we did not touch shoes for the first few weeks. We practiced some boring works for endless hours – sharpening knives, cutting small leather pieces, last toes, build up heels from scrap leather pieces, etc. No welted shoes in the first year. At all. Not even leather soles.

In this world, everybody needs instant success, learn something a few month, start an own business, talk with professionals just like consulting about details. I am really sorry to say this – but especially in America. Everything comes easy, why an ancient craft wouldn’t, right? I does not.

The difference between – almost good and really good is huge. Years of learning. You can learn how to craft a pair of shoes in exactly 5 days – not a big deal – but learn how to craft a beautiful shoe, well that takes 5 years, nothing less. No “trial and error” way – that would take 50 years or even more. No. The traditional way – master and apprentice. Long. Boring. Sometimes humiliating. Stressful, but very rewarding at the end, you just need to get there. This is the way of learning.

Sorry to say this – you mean it seriously, you do it seriously. No royal way. Is it difficult? We know. It was difficult for us too. That is one of the reasons why only a few fine craftsmen left.

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