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Shoes and Craft

A shoemaker's blog about shoemaking

I participated in the HCC meeting in Guthrie, Oklahoma a few months ago. I was asked to do a presentation about any chosen topic – I thought the best one would be finishing, which is probably a constant challenge for most of us. I promised before I will upload the presentation, but let me just add a few thoughts about it.

What do I mean by “finishing”?  I mean everything after the sole and heel is on. In my vocabulary, finishing means the heel and sole shaping, preparation and process of dying, waxing polishing, decoration.. etc. Everything until the customer puts his new shoes on his feet.

I could talk about it for days probably. When I get to the point that my soles-heels are shaped, it takes me a day at least to finish them properly. Not because I am slow, which I am not, it takes this much time because it needs to be perfect, as much as it is possible, even if I believe “perfect” is unachievable.

We need to accept this: not all of our work is perfect. If we do our job well, they will seem perfect for the untrained eyes. Not for us, not for our colleagues on the same level. A tiny spot here and there, a little unwanted mark from a hot tool at final process, and the list goes way longer then we would like.  A few days ago I read about a Japanese craftsman, who can make 7 acceptable ones out of 10 knives. He is outstanding, they said. Almost nobody can reach that level. Most probably he is – just like the whole Japanese craft culture – very critical to the quality. Amazing, isn’t it?

Anyway – here are some pictures, enjoy! Hope to see you guys next year!

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Photos: Michelle Quick

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