Historic techniques and materials

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kemosabi
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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#101 Post by kemosabi » Wed Feb 27, 2013 10:26 am

Were fitter models used in the past?
The closest thing I can recall seeing from reading the works of the dead ones mentions "trying on in the welt".

Also; In the heyday of bespoke, would a fitter be viewed as a crutch for lack of experience?

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#102 Post by dw » Wed Feb 27, 2013 11:36 am

Nat,

I can't answer either of your questions...not well enough versed in the history (calling Al Saguto..earth to Al Saguto).

But I can tell you this: Not only do the very best, most highly respected makers of high end mens shoes use a fitter's model religiously, sometimes there's not a whole lot of difference between the fitter and the finished shoe except the way the maker may cut out "windows" in the toe and heel area to better view the fit.

Personally, as complex a structure (architecturally, mechanically, etc.) as the foot is, I suspect that anyone who eschews a fitter's model of some sort, just doesn't understand feet or fit very well. Or maybe they understand far better than the rest of us.

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#103 Post by kemosabi » Wed Feb 27, 2013 1:43 pm

Agreed.

What brought on this curiosity is how little (if any) fitters are mentioned in the old texts. Being such an important aspect of custom making it seems there would be entire chapters or sections devoted to the subject.

Unless I'm missing something...

-Nat

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#104 Post by lancepryor » Wed Feb 27, 2013 2:56 pm

Nat:

Good question, I have no real idea. Next time I speak with Terry Moore, I'll have to find out what he has to say about it.

The English bespoke firms generally do a fitting of the welted upper, sometimes with a temporary heel. The exception to this is Lobb St. James, which have done away with fittings as a rule.

The French bespoke makers, John Lobb Paris and Anthony Delos (when he was on his own) at least, do a full fitter which is, as DW says, almost indistinguishable from the final shoe, just using less expensive or marginal leather.

I share DW's view that to offer a bespoke shoe and not do a fitter is hard to justify. In addition to checking the fit of the shoe (and hence last), it gives you an opportunity to check your formes and/or upper pattern.

Lance

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#105 Post by das » Wed Feb 27, 2013 4:19 pm

“The past” is a very big place. I’ve never heard/read of test-fitting shoes and boots being made before my time, say 1970s. The West End trade used to try back-strap riding boots on the customer with the back-seam merely whip-stitched, before final closing, and yes, trying shoes in “in the welt”, but not a separate test-fitter shoe like many do today.

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#106 Post by kemosabi » Wed Feb 27, 2013 5:43 pm

Probably a better way to ask would have been: When did separate fitter models first appear?

Very recent, based on your reply.

At this point, I can't help but ask the obvious next question: What drove this change?

Perhaps the increased demand for expensive exotic materials, or changes in client's perspective on quality personal service?

IOW: How did we get from point-A to point-B?
A= trying on in the welt, or no fitting at all.
B= Elaborate separate fitter.

Looks like this question just got disqualified from belonging in the "historic techniques" thread.

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#107 Post by jeoroi » Mon Jun 10, 2013 6:59 am

I have a question to all the historical shoe and boot makers out there. On shoes in museums from the period 1680 and maybe as far as I have seen until 1770, there is a large hole or indention in the bottom of the heels at the centre. There are many different suggestions to why that is but they all seem a bit off. Maybe somebody here have a clear understanding on why they are there. I have included pictures. The shoes are pegged with large diamond shape pegs and the stitching is on top of the out sole, no channel whatsoever. Some of the shoes are model examples but from what I understand from forum member DAS is that it was common in this time to do that. The shoes/boots are heavy fleshed dressed bovine.

Will be interesting to know if somebody have an answer or a plausible theory to this question:-)
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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#108 Post by dw » Mon Jun 10, 2013 7:11 am

Interesting question. These look like museum photos....ArméMuseum? What nationality are these shoes?

Never seen those large wooden pegs before but I'm not an historian.

I wonder what the heel indentation is all about too.
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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#109 Post by jeoroi » Mon Jun 10, 2013 7:46 am

Hi dw.

The shoes and boots in question is from the Swedish military. They always used pegs that size in these days in Sweden, some of the boots had also wood in the heel in the second last layer and then a thin leather layer, secured with a few nails. Soles was in three parts, rand, a front part (going from the top of the instep and forward to the toe) and outsole. Some soles also had birch bark layers was a water barrier. Most of the surviving examples has wipp stitched heel support, maybe an inch high in the back going all the way to the toe cap (toe support). Shoes used heavy fleshed dressed leather about 2-2.5 mm thick so its interesting that they used the heel stiffener. The shoes and boots also have an heel welt (a welt folded over in the heel area) and then stitched to the outsole. I can post some pictures of the stuff we make if you are interested.

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#110 Post by martin » Mon Jun 10, 2013 6:07 pm

jeoroi wrote: I can post some pictures of the stuff we make if you are interested.
Definitely! Very interesting indeed, curious to see if anybody has an answer to your question ...

Cheers,
Martin

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#111 Post by farmerfalconer » Tue Jun 11, 2013 10:47 am

They used to have an old useless wooden last with a large screw sticking out of the heel. I work at a museum in the USA and what they told me is that when a shoe is finished you screw the last with a screw into the heel of th finished shoe. Then you can pass a stirrup through between them and hold it in your lap. This enables you to burnish the upper while it is held securely. Does this make any sense???
I dont have a way with word like some people here do :)

Here is a rough drawing:

Mind you, THis is my best guess but it is a guess. Hopefully Al will correct me if Im wrong.

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#112 Post by farmerfalconer » Tue Jun 11, 2013 10:48 am

It looks like this might have been done on the first and last of your pictures but the middle pic has me stumped!

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#113 Post by fclasse » Tue Jun 11, 2013 2:16 pm

Al will probably comment for the benefit of us all, but I know that Garsault talks about the last with the screw in it, and I do seem to recall him saying something about using a very sturdy nail or screw to deal with the heel. I'm at work, so I don't have my copy to reference, but perhaps someone else does.


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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#114 Post by farmerfalconer » Wed Jun 12, 2013 1:21 pm

Yes, I saw it in Garsault too. I'll be at Old Salem tomorrow and will check our copy and post what I find.

Still, the middle picture is weird. It almost looks like a punch like those used with a doming block was hammered in to it...

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#115 Post by das » Wed Jul 17, 2013 4:21 pm

My first post on the new Forum *yahoo*

This is going to take some getting used to, but here goes.

1. The large-section wood pegs are typical for that date, however split rather than whittled ones is nice to see that early. Rather than being a bought item, in those days the shoe/bootmaker made his own pegs, so naturally the bigger=the fewer needed.

2. Heels--if none of these were heavy jack boots, the hole was not for the jacking-pin to spit the boot over the straw fire to melt the wax in (see Garsault). Cody made a good stab suggesting the "cabriolet" screw-last, but that was only used to hold a shoe upright so one could stitch "the box" stitching I've only seen on French footwear around the base of the quarters. This leaves another possibility: June Swann pointed out to me what she calls a "kick-up", a depression in the top-piece over a wide hollow hole in the middle lifts, we guess to lighten the otherwise heavy clunky heels. If you build a heel that high, broad, and solid, it would weight a lot. If you took a hole punch and knocked a 1+" dia hole out of the middle of every middle lift, it would lighten it. The top-piece would eventually sink into the hole, or be pushed by wear, creating the depression. Or, as on one of these, by burnishing and forcing it down intentionally neatly the hole. Just my guess.

I hope Jeorge posts more pix of these marvelous Swedish shoes and boots.

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#116 Post by farmerfalconer » Sat Jul 20, 2013 4:15 am

Would that be correct for late 18th c. as well? Sorry about posting the wrong information about burnishing the uppers while it was screwed down.

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#117 Post by das » Sat Jul 20, 2013 6:29 am

Would what be correct for late 18thc?

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#118 Post by farmerfalconer » Sat Jul 20, 2013 6:58 pm

Ah, sorry. I meant the hollow heel.

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#119 Post by tomisnellman » Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:46 pm

Hi everybody

I came across the colloquy in my search for a shoemaking term and the admin graciously gave me permission to post here.

I've provisionally called the object "waxing cloth", although it's actually made of leather. The original Finnish term is "pikilappu". It is just a piece of leather used to rub coad onto thread. Here are a couple of images from a Finnish historical database:
pikilappu1.jpg
Image from http://www.suomenmuseotonline.fi/fi/kohde/Suomen+kansallismuseo/SU5332%3A443?pathId=1.184.191.&itemIndex=211
pikilappu1.jpg (18.85 KiB) Viewed 841 times
pikilappu2.jpg
Image from http://suomenmuseotonline.fi/fi/kohde/Suomen+kansallismuseo/SU5332%3A436?museum=kansallis*&itemIndex=7411
pikilappu2.jpg (18.61 KiB) Viewed 841 times
I've been unable to discover an English term for this, and find it hard to believe that none would exist. I was thinking maybe someone here could help. All suggestions gratefully accepted.

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#120 Post by das » Tue Jan 28, 2014 4:29 am

Tomi,

I am pretty familiar with the old English literature on shoemaking, in which there are references to hooking your threads onto a hook or nail in the wall, then rubbing it hard to melt the wax in, smooth and burnish it after twisting. But. I recall no special term for the rubbing thing. A text might say, "rub your threads up pinched between a scrap of uppers leather....", and so forth, but no name per se.

Harnessmakers and saddlers used them to, maybe they had a name for them?

The examples you posted bear pretty old museum accession numbers from the Suomenmuseot. Does the site give any further description, date, or century for how old those "waxing cloths" (pikilappu) are supposed to be? Any more old shoemaking tools or kit? Just curious.

If pikilappu is pronounced piki-la-poo in Finnish, I can see many English speakers adopting at as very musical, like they adopted "coad" after Marc Carson found it in one Medieval ref--now nobody wants to call wax "wax", they find "coad" (cud, same as cows chew their cud or regurgitated food to eat it again) is a more fun word.

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#121 Post by tomisnellman » Wed Jan 29, 2014 7:27 am

Thanks, Das. The website where the images are from is a joint online database of Finnish museums. You can browse shoemaking items here:

http://suomenmuseotonline.fi/fi/selaa?p ... 7.835.4742.

Unfortunately, the texts are not in English. I was thinking: if there is no identifying name for this piece of equipment, perhaps they are not preserved in British or American museums, either? And there were, we'd find them in collections as well.

I doubt pikilappu will ever make it to English shoemaking terminology, though. And if it did, it would probably be garbled beyond recognition.

The bit about coad was interesting. I'm neither shoemaker nor historian, I just gathered from browsing online that that would be the correct term for the black stuff.

Tomi

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#122 Post by dw » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:30 am

das wrote:...like they adopted "coad" after Marc Carson found it in one Medieval ref--now nobody wants to call wax "wax", they find "coad" (cud, same as cows chew their cud or regurgitated food to eat it again) is a more fun word.
Problem is there are so many variations of wax in shoemaking--"hand wax" with its many recipes...summer & winter, finishing wax, beeswax, ear wax, :lurk: even peg wax (?!).

And "coad" was so specific. No mistaking it for something else.

I don't use the word much anymore...some little bird told me that it was a mediaeval term with no currency in modern parlance...but I liked it and if I wasn't the only one bandying it about, I gladly go back to using it.

Again, it's clear...and clear communication is what we all want.
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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#123 Post by das » Wed Jan 29, 2014 9:03 am

"Coad" is a fun-sounding, obscure, Medieval word, but you'll never read about making or using it in any books in print (since movable type)--the common English term has been "wax" or "shoemakers' wax" for 400-500 years. "Hand wax" only starts after hot-wax machines (what, 1880s?), to distinguish it from "machine wax".

NB--Make that after sewing machines. "Machine", "masheen", and "mashen" was a shoemakers' wax too in the 18thc--beeeswax, rosin, and white lead oxide pounded into a pate rather than melted together. Used for that super clean fine white-stitching around women's heel covers and on forepart rands.

Tomi,

If pikilappu creeps into English, we'll butcher the pronunciation to piki-la-pew, similar to "Peppe Le Pew", a famous children's cartoon skunk from the 1960s, who was supposed to sound like the actor Maurice Chevalier, but could find no romance because of his smell :rofl:

And no, I've never seen a piki-la-pew surviving in any English or US museums. If you can find out a date on yours, please let me know.

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#124 Post by tomisnellman » Wed Jan 29, 2014 9:32 am

Das

As you may have noticed there is no date for the two specimens in the online catalogue. But I've come across the term in online accounts of shoemaking, one from the 1910s, another from the time of WWII, and older. Some craftspeople probably still use it for all I know. If you really want to know, I can find out the date for you from the Finnish Board of Antiquities. It's just a phone call.

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#125 Post by das » Wed Jan 29, 2014 10:06 am

Tomi,

If it's as simple as a phone call, it would be good to know the date of the one you pictured here even if it's early 1900s, WWI, WWII, etc. Maybe there were other shoe tools with it?

Most of my piki-la-pews get lost, tossed in the fire, or stolen by my workers... It's not the kind of device that has any enduring value, which is why it's good to see one saved in a museum.

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