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Shoes and Craft

A shoemaker's blog about shoemaking

I don’t think that I really have to write a tutorial about this, some people seem to be really well educated in this topic… but… As this is just a sarcastic title, kind of  “end of the year” post – maybe some will learn the opposite. So, how to make a craftsman upset? These are the types of people, who can achieve it easily.

The “professional” colleague

The colleague can consult with a craftsman. Not as if they’ve ever managed to make an acceptable piece of product, but as they spent already 2 months in the craft (ordering stuff from e-bay, buying leather, fancy machines, whatever), they think that they are on the same level, so a few consulting question wouldn’t hurt, like: “how do you skive a heel counter?”, “how do you hold a lasting pincer”? These questions should be asked privately, so other people, forum-friends will never realize how basic level they are at.

I think it is not a problem to ask questions. Not consulting-like questions though. If you want to talk about mathematics – be humble with a mathematician and do not try to show off with your high school test. He won’t be impressed. Be humble, be respectful – people will be happy to answer.. and please say thanks. That also helps when you ask next time.

A good advice: we, professionals were beginner at once. We went through what you beginner will go through. It is a road without shortcuts. Be humble and diligent and everyone will be happy to help.

The non-resourceful

They never bother to make a simple google search, make phone calls, or any serious effort to find something. Why bother with it? It is way easier to ask someone, who did the work already, spending time, money (to place test orders, try those stuff, etc,) and effort to figure out that resource. Just because a certain resource already costed a fortune to someone – why would it be their problem? “where did you buy your …. ?”  Let me tell you – this is the most annoying and disrespectful question. I am not talking about stuffs that you can get easily. But, and I believe it will explain everything, I get questions like “would you mind giving me your tool maker’s contact?” Hell, no. I spent several thousand dollars, hundreds of hours to develop those tools, the design, trying different steels, woods, hardening, tempering and sharpening methods and you just walk there and order yours? Seriously?

The other type of the non-resourceful guy don’t hesitate to ask about patterns, lasts. Why is it a problem to share a last? Let me explain: a good last is an intellectual property of a company. Just like a source code for a software company. You can buy the software, but NEVER the source code. The lasts are just like that. Nobody sells know-how for the price of a product. Sorry. Get a piece of wood (maybe a blank last), a good rasp and start making your last. This is exactly how we did it.

The “help me right now” guy

This fella is somewhere lives in some exotic part of the world, but really wants to learn a craft. Nice story, hmm? Right, but… even if we would have time and money for charity (what we actually don’t), how is it even possible? We can’t move a workshop there, they can’t come here, and teaching over internet – well, that’s what videos online are for. Many of us already did what we could. I would also add, that many of those exotic countries have better shoe or leather industry than the USA. There is no reason to come here to learn the craft, except maybe for other reasons.

The other “help me right now” type is the one who wants some support, leather, which is actually not a problem, but please… write more than a half sentence with caps lock! How should we know that it is real? Do we have to make a google search to figure out who you are, where are you from and what is it for? If you want help – express yourself in a few sentences, explain why, how much, where, what purpose, etc…

The inventor

“It is a great idea (exchangeable heel height usually)… – so help me!”  The craftsman job is ONLY figure out a tiny technical details (like, how to make it happen) for a few hundred dollars, so the “creator” can realize the million dollar incomes for the idea. Sure. Let’s do it.

The designer

I just put this here, to clarify – there is nothing wrong with designers. They do what they supposed to be good at: design. We help them make it happen. Everyone is happy. We love each other… although there are annoying ones. So naturally, they should be part of the list.

Forum self-promoters

Sometimes they are actually good in a craft. But instead of talking to the others, they just post a brand poster to a professional forum. What is the problem with this? Let me give an example. If there is a car mechanic magazine, probably not the best idea to advertise oil change or break checks. Showing them how YOU do it – that is great, have a conversation with them – even better. Advertise yourself for them: lame. Sorry.

“Here is my Facebook page – I want you to ‘like’ me” Really? And why will it make your life better? Did you already collected 300 likes in your FB brand page? So what? Justin Bieber can throw up on the stage and collect 3 millions in an hour. So?

Can you make/fix this for me?

Do you have a cheap, broken synthetic leather belt, which can hardly go around your belly? Surely it can be fixed! Don’t even bother to listen the craftsman why is it not possible that is just blah-blah. The real problem must be that he DOESN’T even want to fix it! That is it! It is really impossible to find a decent man to do a good quality work, nowadays.

“I don’t care how it looks, just fix it for me!” “Why the hell is it so ugly?” There is only a day, sometimes a few hours between these two sentences. Why? Because they somehow confuse repair with restoration (and its pricing too).

“Can you make me a knife sheath?” Sure I can. I just won’t. Why? Because that is not what I do. Yes, I work with leather too. No, I still won’t make one.

“I have this HANDMADE Italian…” Sure. “Italian” and “handmade” for 80 dollars. Fine Italian craftsmen are famous about underpricing themselves. No, I am still not gonna fix it.

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