Believe or not – this word means plenty different things for us, makers, sometimes even creates some up-roaring comments. I was thinking about this a lot in the last few years and recently, after discussing this topic with one of my friend, who happens to be a very fine bootmaker, one of the best on the field – and he said.. “I would not be able to pass the master exam”. Hell yes, of course he would, with flying colors. If we would have any.
But before we get to the master exam, let’s talk about this: what does it even mean? Why do this mean something THIS different?
For a good reason. Not just because it is complicated – it is – but the perfect pattern is not enough, there is the leather factor – how this going to behave on the last? Will the crease line be too thick? Will it go the right spot? Can you sew it together without further issues? Factories make several prototypes and the very reason is to answer these questions and not messing up expensive raw materials.
The bellows tongue is not a design feature, more abut comfort and make the boots waterproof.
I am in shoemaking trade for over 30 years. I doesn’t feel enough for a lot of things. First of all: to build a really successful brand. I was born in Hungary and that is definitely not the right place for that. There is not enough money or appreciation for this trade there. (I mean not over 500 USD for shoes. That just fall into the “why do you want to charge so much?” category in my country). I did not come from a rich family or have investors in my workshop. I appreciated my freedom more than that. Me and superiors – we don’t work very well together. I don’t appreciate (or as a matter of fact: understand) bureaucracy, superiors usually can’t deal with people with too much creativity – or at least not too many do.
I was not spoiled with tuition after a certain point, which honestly I badly miss. You just can’t imagine what it means to start your craft in a prestigious workshop – not only for the knowledge surrounds you, but setting your quality standards pretty high. Time to time, I have to realize, that certain thing I do is just not good enough and some makers do it way better. That is inspiring. That gives me fuel to improve my work, which I continuously do. Luckily I know a bit about materials and leathers, so I don’t need to start the experiments there.
Very recently I read an article about a young Hungarian man, traveling with his chariot and oxen through Europe. He passed away as a someone hit him with a car. His story was inspiring: I watched a video about it. He said something really smart, which resonates with me. He said he doesn’t focus on his destination when he travels somewhere. That would make him unsatisfied. He was focusing on the traveling itself. He was a content man, his aura was full with peace. He really seemed happy. I think that is a great example for us, craftsmen wherever we are with our craft – focusing on our journey instead of a destination where we might never arrive – that can make us happy with ourselves.
We should not be afraid to make mistakes, just learn from them. Don’t believe that your craft icons are perfect – they have their own struggles, just like you. Their stitches, style might be better than yours, but hey – they are just more ahead in the journey. You need to travel yours. That is what I do.
Early November I will visit New York to hold a sort pattern making course for all levels and meet shoe friends! I will also present the pattern ruler – so, please feel free to join! The events will take place in Brooklyn Shoe Space, 224 Roebling St. Brooklyn, NY.