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Shoes and Craft

A shoemaker's blog about shoemaking

Yeah, it is me, being sarcastic again. It is painful to see which pieces/makers the magazines pick to represent our Craft. No offense to anyone who showed up there – I am not saying all featured makers are bad choices. I was there too, and some of my respected fellow makers, but they make some pretty miserable choices as well. How? Let me illustrate:

In a parallel situation, allow me to introduce Mr. ……..*, from ……… ** who started his English studies last week (my English is not that great as well, so I hope nobody takes it as an offense. I could have picked pottery*** too), but already succeeded to write down his own name + 2 whole sentence, with only 5 mistakes! Here they are:

“I em ….., fromm …. I lice reiding and lerning. Where is the postofis?

He sad he is only in the beginning of his career, but we are pretty sure that he will be successful as he practices this rare language! We are all amazed by the talent, he put together those words and composed those wonderful sentences. We must say: we need to keep an eye on this guy – he might be the future Shakespeare! 

Don’t misunderstand me – I have no problem beginners being featured in magazines. I think that is a great thing. They need chances to get their names out there, it is perfectly fine and right. Just as beginner musicians should have a chance to show their skills, have a performance.

My problem is way more specific: it is not about ONE person being promoted, it is about REPRESENTATION. When they claim an up and coming shoemaker (or actually any craftsmen) for being a “professional” whereas their work.. well, is not. When a maker is picked to be featured, that is a responsibility. If s/he is presented as frontrunner of the craft, what will readers think about the rest of craft community? In  good cases, they will not believe that our work is really handmade, since they know about the best makers and their work don’t look like that, right? It happened many times with me. Sometimes I get a well intended compliment, that my shoes look like factory made ones, but in the worst case, they just think that the work is factory made and I am just a shoe store owner, and I call myself shoemaker to make it sound fancy. (I wouldn’t be the first in history, hmm?)

I feel that shoemaking is very poorly represented in media. People tend to believe that shoemakers don’t make fine work, only “crafty” shoes with funny materials and all of them started to learn the craft a year ago as a sole flame holder of a dying tradition, in whom we have to put all our hopes. Well, the truth is: shoemaking is getting more and more popular, getting further and further away from dying. Besides a lot of enthusiastic beginners, who I hope will have a lot of chances to be in magazines, TV shows, etc., there are more experienced craftsmen, who can create professional looking work. Please talk about those – us – too.

Before I left Hungary, the last year I refused all the media requests, interviews, etc. Why? I got fed up with the picture they want to show: “dying craft”, “last shoemaker” etc. – if they don’t bother to do their homework, why would I help their job? Here in the States I gave some interviews, but I tend to think that I will do the same – at times media does bigger damage than help. 


*  I did want just to pick some name – there are several thousand people read this, so someone would have been pissed. I hope nobody is called Mr. Dot Dot Dot.

** same here

***I am miserable in pottery – maybe because I have never tried.

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