The Art and Mysterie: a photo essay (Another approach)

Share secrets, compare techniques, discuss the merits of materials--eg. veg vs. chrome--and above all, seek knowledge.
Post Reply
Message
Author
admin
Site Admin
Posts: 406
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2004 10:00 am
Full Name: Admin
Been Liked: 1 time

The Art and Mysterie: a photo essay (Another approach)

#1 Post by admin » Sat Feb 03, 2007 3:45 pm

I am posting a series of photos for Tom Mattimore. Eventually I will probably separate them out and make a "Sticky" topic like "The Art and the Mysterie: a photo essay." These photos are certainly worthy. The only reason I am not doing it immediately is to allow folks to comment.

Anyway...here's the first couple:

The first is a pic of the clicker dies used to cut the front blocker pattern...

Tom says: "This shows the cutting dies I use for the fronts and that most essential of shoe makers tool. The rubber chicken."
4760.jpg
4760.jpg (23.06 KiB) Viewed 2957 times


And the second is a photo of the front blocker.

4759.jpg
4759.jpg (68.33 KiB) Viewed 2957 times



Emmett

admin
Site Admin
Posts: 406
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2004 10:00 am
Full Name: Admin
Been Liked: 1 time

Re: The Art and Mysterie: a photo essay (Another approach)

#2 Post by admin » Sat Feb 03, 2007 3:50 pm

This next one is of Tom's boards..
4762.jpg

admin
Site Admin
Posts: 406
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2004 10:00 am
Full Name: Admin
Been Liked: 1 time

Re: The Art and Mysterie: a photo essay (Another approach)

#3 Post by admin » Sat Feb 03, 2007 3:53 pm

Tom says...

"I fold in half first"
4765.jpg


"I have rubbed down the center for a crease to help keep it centered on the break"
4764.jpg

admin
Site Admin
Posts: 406
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2004 10:00 am
Full Name: Admin
Been Liked: 1 time

Re: The Art and Mysterie: a photo essay (Another approach)

#4 Post by admin » Sat Feb 03, 2007 3:55 pm

"first screw"
4768.jpg


second screw
4767.jpg

admin
Site Admin
Posts: 406
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2004 10:00 am
Full Name: Admin
Been Liked: 1 time

Re: The Art and Mysterie: a photo essay (Another approach)

#5 Post by admin » Sat Feb 03, 2007 3:57 pm

"throat screw"
4771.jpg


"heel screw"
4770.jpg

admin
Site Admin
Posts: 406
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2004 10:00 am
Full Name: Admin
Been Liked: 1 time

Re: The Art and Mysterie: a photo essay (Another approach)

#6 Post by admin » Sat Feb 03, 2007 4:00 pm

"Now I have started to tighten up the screws"
4774.jpg


"this is after rubbing out"
4773.jpg

admin
Site Admin
Posts: 406
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2004 10:00 am
Full Name: Admin
Been Liked: 1 time

Re: The Art and Mysterie: a photo essay (Another approach)

#7 Post by admin » Sat Feb 03, 2007 4:02 pm

"this is after putting in the last screw and tightening up slowly while rubbing out"
4777.jpg
4777.jpg (19.86 KiB) Viewed 2957 times


"this is after cutting the pattern for a 12" Artillery boot. "
4776.jpg

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: The Art and Mysterie: a photo essay (Another approach)

#8 Post by dw » Sat Feb 03, 2007 4:07 pm

Man alive Tom!!! I'm very impressed. thank you for sharing this with us.

You make it look easy. After near on to 20 years of doing this definately differently than you do, there's some ideas there I am going to try for sure.

Again...great stuff!!

Tight Stitches
DWFII--HCC Member

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: The Art and Mysterie: a photo essay (Another approach)

#9 Post by dw » Sat Feb 03, 2007 4:23 pm

Tom,

Question...

OK, so now I understand the sequence...kinda.... I think I could tack the top rather than use an iron there. And I could probably tack where you place your second iron (although the cruel boards have a socket in exactly the same spot.)

But when in the sequence do you tack the toe? (maybe you said before but with the photos your answer will make more sense)

Tight Stitches
DWFII--HCC Member

paul
8
8
Posts: 1014
Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2005 10:00 am
Full Name: Paul Krause
Location: Prescott, Arizona, USA
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: The Art and Mysterie: a photo essay (Another approach)

#10 Post by paul » Sat Feb 03, 2007 4:33 pm

Tom,

A big thank you from me too!

It's like ol' Mr. Degn, who taught me shoe repair, used to say,
"There's more than one way to skin a cat, but either way he doesn't like it."

You obviously get good results crimping to way you do.

Thanks again,

PK

tmattimore
5
5
Posts: 206
Joined: Fri Sep 22, 2006 9:00 am
Full Name: Tom Mattimore

Re: The Art and Mysterie: a photo essay (Another approach)

#11 Post by tmattimore » Sat Feb 03, 2007 4:42 pm

What I could not show is the amount of effort expended with the bouncer and my hands. I work those thru out the process. The main goal is to work the leather flat enough to install the screws, you cant just put them on and tighten them up until the leather is ready. I work the wrinkles towards the edge from the break and never allow one to form that is folded over itself (locked in). I have also found that the order I put the clamps on is critical and never vary it.
It took two years to develop this system of pattern, boards,screws and leather. It may not work on other leathers last heights etc. If you have questions I will try to answer them.
Tom

tmattimore
5
5
Posts: 206
Joined: Fri Sep 22, 2006 9:00 am
Full Name: Tom Mattimore

Re: The Art and Mysterie: a photo essay (Another approach)

#12 Post by tmattimore » Sat Feb 03, 2007 4:58 pm

D.W.
First let me say how much I appreciate this forum and all the knowledge that is here. Thanks for it and your efforts.
Today was an interesting exercise as I had to think about what I was doing.
I tack the toe on after creasing then lay the leather on the break. Thinking about it this is important as I work it into the turn with my hands and dont proceed if there are any wrinkles on the break. Then I put in the top screw fairly snug and rarely tighten after that except when I have a 16" tall leg. I see no reason why tacks wouldn't work.
The bottom screw really helps after the third one is in to help keep the leather tight on the turn while hooking up the heel screw.
Tom

jesselee
6
6
Posts: 469
Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 10:00 am
Full Name: Jesse Lee Cantrell
Location: Town of Niagara, NY, USA

Re: The Art and Mysterie: a photo essay (Another approach)

#13 Post by jesselee » Sat Feb 03, 2007 5:30 pm

Hy Tom. This ol bootmaker is wayyy impressed by that crimp. Brilliant idea that board and all them irons... You are an inspiration!
Jesse

jesselee
6
6
Posts: 469
Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 10:00 am
Full Name: Jesse Lee Cantrell
Location: Town of Niagara, NY, USA

Re: The Art and Mysterie: a photo essay (Another approach)

#14 Post by jesselee » Sat Feb 03, 2007 5:47 pm

Hey Y'all. I remember a time 25-30 years ago when those of us, that 'Olde' guarded the Mysteries of the Trade selfishly. It was moreso to entice the apprentices to become Masters. Glad to see techniques being shared, and this 'old dawg', is learning a few new tricks. I have never done an inlay in my life. I have tooled and used bookbinding techniques to raise designs though, not sure if anyone else has done that. But as a Master bookbinder also, I have married the techniques to bootmaking. What I am about to undertake is not strictly bootmaking, but the techniques are. I am planning a fine guitar strap utilizing the different hand stitches I know, as well as bootmaking techniques and bookbinding techniques including my first inlays, and taking the advice I learned here in the week or so I have been studying the posts each evening til I'm bug eyed. I will do photos and explain as best I can each one. It will take a while, only because I am not artistic like y'all. But hope you like it. Where the holes in the strap meet the guitar 'pins (?), to hold it I will be doing the traditional button hole stitches I learned (like on Victorian button hole boots). Basically it will be a mural of a bunch of Mysteries I have learned and used over the years. Out of enthusiasm, I hope it will be the first guitar strap of it's kindImage Oh yeah, will do machine stitching, single design to many rows also.

Thanks for the inspiration.

Best Regards,
Jesse

chuck_deats

Re: The Art and Mysterie: a photo essay (Another approach)

#15 Post by chuck_deats » Sat Feb 03, 2007 6:16 pm

WOW!! Tom, Thank you---You make a bunch of us look like pikers----Many, many good ideas and extremely well presented. Will digest this some more in the morning.

Chuck

tmattimore
5
5
Posts: 206
Joined: Fri Sep 22, 2006 9:00 am
Full Name: Tom Mattimore

Re: The Art and Mysterie: a photo essay (Another approach)

#16 Post by tmattimore » Sun Feb 04, 2007 4:07 am

Hey you will make my head swell. Compared to the boot makers here I am just a hack. I just figured out an easier way to do an onerous task.
Tom

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: The Art and Mysterie: a photo essay (Another approach)

#17 Post by dw » Sun Feb 04, 2007 8:00 am

Paul, all,

Well, without putting too much of a damper on the excitement that all of us feel (me too)--and Tom, understand that I'm just thinking out loud here and obviously from a position of pure ignorance--we are ...no, I'm...not sure if Tom's method is universally applicable. It is a system. To me that seems critical. Tom is using a fairly mellow, pure veg leather--the Wickett and Craig (if I'm remembering correctly). He's using five crimping irons...more than I've ever seen used on historical boards (most I've seen is two). And while crimping is always the big unknown for all of us...just as important is where and how we cut the resulting blocker.

Amidst a real interest and a certainty that there are some new concepts in Tom's approach, I am cautioned by several things:

First, our Trade has some years of trying to perfect and evolve this style of boot. Perhaps not so much in recent decades but all through the 19th century. I have 19th century crimping boards that show marks (reminders) of the last time it was used...with heavy wrinkle lines in the upper "instep" imprinted in black residue on the board. Maybe that guy was as much of a hack as I am...or maybe in a hundred years no one ever came up with anything much different than the way most of us have been doing it. Maybe the leather just dictates what we can do with it and what we cannot.

And maybe...hopefully...Tom's dedication and hard work has paid off in a breakthrough or at least an evolutionary step forward that, thanks to his openness, we may all benefit from.

I will be experimenting with some of this either today or tomorrow. I'm gonna try what I see as the important differences between Tom's approach and my own on some veg Kangaroo that I have had mixed success on--one pair perfect, the next almost impossible; one blocker fine, the next a blowout. Then I will try some Beaumont. Maybe, as intimated above, none of it will work on these leathers (I doubt that very much but I am at least considering the possibility). I don't know how many times I've had a leather that I've used for pair after pair of boots work so easy and so smoothly I start to get smug about it, and then all of a sudden I can't do a thing with the next set of blockers. I even tell my customers that this cannot be done with all leathers. I'd squirm and whine, shamelessly, if a customer even suggested that I try this with alligator.

The one thing that really encourages me is that when you come down to it...there's not a whole lot of difference in Tom's approach and the "traditional" approach (right down to the 'muscle work' and "the effort expended with the bouncer and (his) hands." Sequence of drafts is the important difference, in my opinion. But, then, that in itself may well be revolutionary.

Beyond that, Tom's blocker patterns are remarkably like mine...right up to and including the rise in the center of the top. His boards look a lot like the traditional board (as do mine) although thinking about it, there may be only one "basic" board shape possible--form follows function. And my sequence for putting blockers on the cruel boards is remarkably similar...as evidenced by the additional screw socket and the process outlined in the book. The big difference is that Tom doesn't hook up the corner iron till almost the last thing...and if you examine the photos he's not even hooking them up on the corner of the blocker. That in itself was a bit of a shocker/revelation to me.

Bottom line...you can't look at these photos and find fault in Tom's system. You can't look at these photos...having struggled with this form for any length of time...and not be excited. I have a bee in my bonnet that is buzzing like crazy. For me, however, I need to explore his concepts and make them part of my system.

But the fact that they are available at all is a hugely generous contribution to this forum and ultimately to the Trade.

And Tom, the thanks you are receiving is your rightful due...for that generousity alone.


Tight Stitches
DWFII--Member HCC

(Message edited by dw on February 04, 2007)

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: The Art and Mysterie: a photo essay (Another approach)

#18 Post by dw » Sun Feb 04, 2007 12:17 pm

First of all let me say that after reading my last post about ten times, I am a bit unhappy with it. It comes off a little too critical and dismissive. I apologize for that, it wasn't intended to come out like that.

Second, I have to share my experiences with Tom's way of crimping...or as close to it as I could come without starting all over from scratch with new boards, new patterns, etc. .

About two hours ago I went out to the shop (I mentioned that I had a bee in my bonnet--nothing else could get me out there on my day off and a beautiful sunny, warm day at that).

I found a piece of scrap Beaumont large enough for a front blocker. Weight about 4 ounce maybe a little under. I cut my blocker pattern just as I would usually do but didn't add either the "extra" corner nor the reinforcing strip.

This first photo is just starting out, leather tacked at toe and top trying to keep the pattern corner somewhere near the corner socket on the board. Following Tom's recipe as closely as I could, I folded the blocker (in this case inside out) and ironed the fold. BTW, I think this is a very good idea. I think it prevents the pipes from bunching up and running across the blade of the board. I might also add that I did not take as many photos as Tom did, being more concerned with verifying the process than documenting it.

When I took the first photo I was worried. There's that old "wing" that Tom Mickel (?) talked about--where the corners of the blocker won't lay down. And I have to admit that I fumbled with this unfamiliar technique getting pipes cleared off the blade of the board.
4781.jpg


In this second photo I have tacked under the instep, pulling quite hard and I have added the throat iron and the corner iron in that sequence. I was skeptical all the way up to the point I did the instep draft as to whether I would even be able to get the corner iron on the leather--whether it would come down far enough...Beaumont is a stiff leather. It looks promising though, doesn't it? The other side is much worse, though--there's always a good side and a bad side.
4780.jpg


Two more photos and comments in the next post.


Tight Stitches
DWFII--Member HCC

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: The Art and Mysterie: a photo essay (Another approach)

#19 Post by dw » Sun Feb 04, 2007 12:45 pm

In this third photo I am beginning to think this may work out, after all! And this is the hard side! I have to admit that I am very worried about ripping at the corner iron, however.

4785.jpg


The fourth photo shows the blocker just before I hung it. I have to say this worked wonderfully Tom! Will it work for the kangaroo and the lining and so forth? Especially if I again don't use reinforcing strips? I don't know. That's my job...to find out. I would guess "yes and no." Sometimes yes, sometimes no. But the fact that it worked so well this time makes me think all the rest is just detail.
4784.jpg


Let me add a few data points...it took me roughly one hour from beginning to end--from cutting the blocker, ten to fifteen minutes soaking in warm water with a little bit of dishwashing detergent, to when I hung it up to dry. There is only a very minimal amount of compression in the throat. !!!! What there is must be spread out very evenly because almost from the start I had virtually no problem with pipes forming in the throat.

My easy boards have a "hidden" socket in the instep (I tried using an instep iron once before but didn't like the results.) I think I will open them up again and try instep irons on the next pair I crimp. And naturally, given the way I cut my blockers prior to assembly, I will still move the blockers from the easy boards to the cruel boards to get the extra relief under the "vamp."

Finally, I have to say this to you Tom Mattimore...I have spent many years teaching this Trade. I have spent the last nine years creating and maintaining and shepherding this Forum. And I have never begrudged that effort even in the face of my most cynical critics. I have always maintained that however much you give to earnest and interested people, it will be returned to you...in spades. I have always said, and it was always my most fervent wish and expectation, that somewhere, some time, some one was going to give me back something that would change my way of doing things...of "seeing" things...and pay me back for all that I have done...little enough, though it is. What goes around, comes around.

Tom, with this one generous outpouring of time photographing and sharing your methods you have made it all worthwhile. Image As Paul said, it was a great birthday present.

Thank you...Image

Finally, I have to say that I am jealous...not of you, Tom, but of all the blown out blockers and all the blood sweat and tears that I could have avoided. Oh, well better to have come to it at 61 than never at all. Image



Tight Stitches
DWFII--Member HCC

paul
8
8
Posts: 1014
Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2005 10:00 am
Full Name: Paul Krause
Location: Prescott, Arizona, USA
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: The Art and Mysterie: a photo essay (Another approach)

#20 Post by paul » Mon Dec 14, 2015 9:08 pm

I enjoyed reading this again, Thank you Tom and DW.

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: The Art and Mysterie: a photo essay (Another approach)

#21 Post by dw » Tue Dec 15, 2015 6:09 am

Paul,

Nine years ago??!! [sigh]

I look back at this myself and on due consideration am happy that there are two of these topics both entitled "The Art and the Mysterie." It illustrates the fact that there are always other ways to do a technique as long as the fundamental principles are honoured.

Unfortunately, no matter how many ways there are, there are an order of magnitude fewer people who have consistently found success with The Art and the Mysterie. Much less mastery.

I have long since gone back to my original approach but there are insights here that I am sure have been folded into my technique. My own techniques were just more consistent and reliable...for me.

The critical observation nine years later, for me at least, is that we tend to be, or become, comfortable with what we are taught, even if we've more or less taught ourselves.

I suppose that's why the Elders of the Trade were so persnickety about teaching Traditional techniques and the "correct" ways of doing things. We get into habits and dern few...even when shown a better way...will change. We get started using a Quick Change Utility knife, for instance, and the chances of ever getting really comfortable with a true clicker knife become slim to none.

At a certain point, the inescapable conclusion is that the Trade flourished specifically because of the Traditions it embraced (and passed on) for literally hundreds of years. Without those Traditions...past, present, and into the future...it becomes a mish-mosh that is fundamentally unteachable and unpreservable simply because the techniques and the understandings become so disparate, confused and uncertain.

And at a further point, some techniques even become unrepeatable--for all intents and purposes, lost. Like 64SPI. There are shoemakers today who are near-as-nevermind certain that such work was never done (despite the documentation, preserved examples and the reputation of those doing the documenting)...and for no other reason than that they themselves cannot do it.

[center]"Here's tae us!
Wha's like us?
Damn few,
And they're a' deid
Mair's the pity!"[/center]
DWFII--HCC Member
Without "good" there is no "better," without "better," no "best."
And without the recognition that there is a hierarchy of excellence in all things, nothing rises above the level of mundane.

Post Reply