Just some thoughts...

This off topic area is a place where, while you are visiting the Crispin Colloquy, you can talk about beer, whiskey, kilts, the latest WWII re-enactment, BBQ, grandsons, shoes in the media, and even the odd meandering essay on "why we make shoes."
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Re: Just some thoughts...

#26 Post by tmattimore » Sat Jul 07, 2007 1:48 pm

Hey no skin off my nose what anybody uses. All I know is I pay about $7 per foot for my upper leather. It is certianly higher then celastic but it is to hand. I consider it under utilized raw materials. It all depends on the project, not every shoe needs a sole leather counter or a heavy toe box. Most of the stuff I make does not have toe boxes including most of my own personel shoes

jss812

Re: Just some thoughts...

#27 Post by jss812 » Sat Jul 07, 2007 2:28 pm

Okey Dokey. I don't think I made myself clear. Which brings up a good point. Semantics. When you say scrap, and as pointed out in a previous post, that you are going to look under your cutting table to find the toe box material, I, as the ignorant customer, am thinking stuff headed for the trash can and would be inclined to take my hard earned cash elsewhere. If, on the other hand, you explain to me, still the ignorant customer, that you intend to use a hide cutting the vamps, counter cover, shaft materials out of the prime areas of the hide, and use the less prime areas for stuff that isn't seen like toe boxes (I know this is simplistic) then I would think that we can do business. The point is that I wouldn't tell a customer that I intend to use scraps anywhere in his(her) $800 boots.

As far as celastic vs leather toe boxes go, I don't have an arguement either way. Y'all are the experts. In fact, the only pair of boots I've ever owned that collapsed the toe box, I found the toe box made of some sort of paper. I won't buy another pair of them.

As far as quality goes, a customer's perception of quality might be different than that of the maker's. My personal expectations would be appropriate materials of construction, construction methods to assure longevity (barring my own stupidity- ie cuts because I kicked something don't count), and comfort.

As to economics, I don't know what y'all make or even charge. I guessed at $800 because if you aren't getting double what a good name brand off the shelf boot costs, then you probably ain't charging enough. You guys are servicing a niche market. You aren't after the average Joe like myself who can go to the boot store and find an off the shelf boot that feels pretty good and requires very little break in to be comfortable. That's why I think comfort is a biggy. And, I'll go one step further by suggesting that if the maker has a substantial backlog of work, then the prices (s)he's quoting probably ain't enough. Not saying you need to price yourself out of the market. Ya gotta eat!!

Anyway, please remember that this is just an opinion and not directed at anyone nor is it intended to offend. Look at it as another point of view.

James

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Re: Just some thoughts...

#28 Post by dw » Sat Jul 07, 2007 2:50 pm

Jim,

No worries. Opinions and even counter opinions are welcome here...especially expressed as you have. I've always thought of this forum as a "marketplace of ideas." Intelligence, logic, and rationality are the currency of that marketplace...leave personality out of it.

As for telling the customer that we are using scraps...you're right. I wouldn't do that. Image

Re: throwing scraps away...well, some of it has to be thrown away or you're just stockpiling it forever with no use in sight. I have two 55 gallon drum size containers full of scraps and more stashed in boxes and bins under my benches. Some of it will never be used, all of it will probably go to the landfill when I die. But it is, like Tom says, raw materials and that, ultimately, is what we deal in.

When I look at it, however, it doesn't take much for it to transform itself into large heaps of dollar bills in my mind's eye...'cuz I paid for every scrap.

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Re: Just some thoughts...

#29 Post by dw » Sat Jul 07, 2007 3:30 pm

BTW, I meant to add that although we welcome all kinds of folks here (every person of "goodwill," at least), The Crispin Colloquy is not really a customer's forum.

So when Tom says he looking under the cutting table, most of us know what he means and almost none of us would bore a customer with such details. Image

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Re: Just some thoughts...

#30 Post by jesselee » Sat Jul 07, 2007 10:01 pm

All

Scraps... Interesting... It only means pieces not big enough to make a vamp with. My under vamp size pieces are recouped as counter covers, boot straps etc. The old 1800's boots never had toe boxes. The smaller pieces are used to line the box that John henry (the official boot making catImage likes to lay in beside my old chair while I work. So if anyone has a scap problem, it can be solved with getting a boot making kitten. Scraps also make great cat toysImage
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Re: Just some thoughts...

#31 Post by jesselee » Sat Jul 07, 2007 10:13 pm

All,

Well, ladies and gentlemen, across the board. My rusted old 1872 Bradbury A1 stitcher head is minuites away from taking her first steps in the current incarnation. Springs were pirated, bobbins and shuttles cut down to size, much penetrating oil and sewing machine oil went into her for her Phoenix rebirth. The crack in the wheel guard was mended and painted, the rust pits on the arm filled, sanded and painted, a bit of spray paint all around makes her look sweet again. I fashioned a tension spring/disk piece and ran the needle bar through the lifting cone until 'my arm' fell off and john henry snagged it and ran with it. I got it back and used Barge and waxed linen thread to re-attach it. Now to be done is the offset cam on the thread lift arm (as opposed to the lock nut screw on a Singer patcher) to be made and to file off the broken piece which holds the spool of thread and drill a new hole and insert a new rod.
So basically I declare myself the 'King of the Bradbury' (tongue in cheek. For I tool this rusty heap of scrap iron and made her work. But that is a God given talent with me. If a sewing machine is 1800's, rusted stiff, there is a 90% chance I can bring her back to life.
I have the before pics, and will be taking the after pics when she is stitching.
JesseLee

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Re: Just some thoughts...

#32 Post by guy_shannon » Sat Jul 07, 2007 10:57 pm

Hello DW and everyone else.

While I was self employed in my shoerepair I saved as much of my scraps as possible. You just never know when they may be useful.....Now that I am back at Alberta Boot we throw alot away but we trim all we can from useful pieces especially the exotic leathers and put them together to make boots compiled of many pieces but we still get about $800.00 for them.

As for celastic a mass boot manufacturer cannot ignore it and still hope to be competitive . We use it sanwiched between the lining and upper as well as between the Leather heel counter and the upper.

The only time we have used leather for the toe boxes is when we do movie boots and they are very perticular about the time period. The movies that come to mind is Shanghi Noon and Shanghi Knights where they wanted them period perfect....Kind of silly for that type of western I think.

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Re: Just some thoughts...

#33 Post by dw » Sun Jul 08, 2007 7:18 am

Guy,

I understand. And frankly, I don't care what anyone else uses for their toe boxes or heel stiffeners. That's a personal...or in the case, you cite, a "management"...choice.

As makers we are all forced to embrace materials and methods that may not be historical or traditional or even "earth friendly." I use dacron thread for inseaming in place of the traditional linen. I use nylon fishing line instead of boars bristles. Nylon top stitching thread instead of silk. Etc.. In many cases, the choices are made for us in that the materials the Trade used to rely on are no longer available or are of such poor quality that they cannot be relied upon. And in some cases....some few cases...a substitute is found that so compellingly answers the deficiencies of a more traditional material that it is sheer foolishness to ignore it.

I don't like celastic because it is a structural element of the boot that didn't need replacement, in the first place, and certainly not by something synthetic and artificial. It was an answer looking for a question. A solution where there was no problem. And it is a structural element of the boot...meaning that it forms an important part of the boot's integrity. An integrity that is undermined by an unnatural...even "forced"...element.

As I said, I don't care who uses it. But when I have students or hear from people who are desperately trying to learn and to make bootmaking a part of themselves (and vice-versa), who are being told that celastic is "superior" to leather (what rot!), I feel compelled to at least make the case on the other side--to offer those students (and other interested parties...of goodwill) another perspective. One that, may I remind people, doesn't just come from me. A perspective and an attitude that can be found in the ancestors of those very people who are most vociferous about advocating its use--witness the Texas photos, as a good example.

And yes, I do have strong opinions about a few things in this regard. But, if I might say so without becoming maudlin, it is because I love boot and shoemaking--it is my life. It is part of me...and I have worked hard to make myself part of it.

I don't like celastic. And I will continue to speak out against its use in high quality, bespoke footwear. And especially in a forum that has education and learning as its principle aim...and generosity as its motivational impulse.

I believe that iron tacks are inferior to hand stitching and wooden pegs. And, even more important, that they will cause a boot to rot out....anyone who says different just hasn't been paying close enough attention, in my opinion. Because I've seen it literally thousands of times in my career.

And I think that there are more than a few things that we can learn as bespoke makers--we who aspire to produce a really high quality, exceptional product (we do aspire, don't we?)--from those who went before and took the time and the energy to pass it all down to the next generation. To have recorded it and given it to people they surely knew they would never meet and who might not even appreciate it, was a tremendously generous gesture. It required a measure of their life-energy. Each and everyone of them opened a vein. There are many today who would bleed to death if they ever took the time to put themselves on the line (open for criticism...cheap criticism, at that) and share unselfishly in more than single sentences.

Sometime it seems that self-congratulation and/or stubbornness insures that even the lessons of the past must fall on deaf ears.

All that said, I apologize if it seems I mis-read your post. I did not. I know that I have touched upon subjects that you did not intend. And I know, and appreciate, that your post was open and generous and without malice. Sometimes, I just get on a "Rant..." ImageImage Sometimes the subject just stirs up so many thoughts that I use a post such as yours for a springboard. Again, please accept my apologies and know that none of the above was personal.


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(Message edited by dw on July 08, 2007)

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Re: Just some thoughts...

#34 Post by guy_shannon » Sun Jul 08, 2007 7:55 am

Hi DW.

No need to apologize. I agree with you Leather is better by far. The celastic we use has to be dipped in Tolulene and by the end of the day you can feel pretty wipped out.

Guy

P.S. I apreciate your rants

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Re: Just some thoughts...

#35 Post by dw » Sun Jul 08, 2007 8:13 am

Guy,
P.S. I apreciate your rants


Thank you for that!

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Re: Just some thoughts...

#36 Post by shoestring » Sun Jul 08, 2007 3:55 pm

I would like to add this since I started out doing custom leather work.If I buy a hide to make a case as ordered by the customer than he turns around and want a wallet made from that same weight of hide a year later than the wallet has been made from scrap.Because the intended purpose was for a case.As for building shoes I intend to use leather except for shanks,pegs,etc. .I want as close to tradition as I can get.Everything in my place is useable,besides I will not give a customer something I will not want or have. When I first inquired about toe boxes in shoes, a shoe maker in New Orleans swore by celastic and gave me a pair of toe boxes. Upon the feel I realized that all my work will consist of leather parts,I want to be as true to the craft as can be.Just my take on non leather components in shoe building or the use of celastic.

Ed

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Re: Just some thoughts...

#37 Post by guy_shannon » Sun Jul 08, 2007 6:29 pm

Hello All.

I'm afraid I may have offended some people over the use of celastic. I just want to clarify I work in a factory and I personally last 800 pairs of boots a month. Time becomes your enemy when you are mass producing anything and companies will find whatever shortcuts they can to cut costs down. This was no personal decision by myself and if Alberta Boot was to switch from leather insoles to fiberboard like many other companys or plastic welting they would be looking for a new employee.

On a more personal note I do make a couple of pair of boots per year on the side for friends and Xmas but I am really getting tired of being an employee and will be making a jump back into self employment.

Right now I am making a matching set of handle grips for a friend and his wifes motorbikes and with all the little jobs I keep getting handed and asked to do my job is getting in the way.

Maybe I'll be back at it sooner than I thought
anyway Godbless

Guy

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Re: Just some thoughts...

#38 Post by dw » Sun Jul 08, 2007 7:55 pm

Guy,

Take my word for it...you didn't offend anyone. And I like your remark about time...
Time becomes your enemy when you are mass producing anything and companies will find whatever shortcuts they can to cut costs down


I've known that in my gut for most of my life and I've expressed it (to some disagreement) in one form or another numerous times. But it does reinforce the notion that the only reason to discard a perfectly good technique and material such as leather toe boxes, is that it is "faster and easier."

Just another reason I don't want to buy into the factory mentality or have my work associated with it.


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Re: Just some thoughts...

#39 Post by dearbone » Sun Apr 20, 2008 1:00 pm

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I bought few pairs of these incomplete set of lasts,these ones are 10 and a half,A width,made in USA, very very thin and slick, there is no date on them,but that's what i like to find out,i saw a painting of A Lincoln wearing similar style shoes and also second half of 19c. there is no way i can fit a size 10and half feet in those lasts, maybe they will fit a size 8(42/43) but than again i never relied on what last makers put on their lasts for size, although i take my profile by taping last.
Bill,
About the shoemaker that makes shoes with sharks skin,i really think that boot/shoe makers should not promote the use of endangered animals,i used to fear and dislike sharks and with good reason,a shark took my friend when we were in grade 5, but found out that the oceans will be useless waters without them,people are killing sharks world wide and sometime they kill them for their parts and throw the rest in the water.in the begining man were not allowed to kill anything without a prayer to God as a sacrifice and only out of necessity.
regards Nasser

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Re: Just some thoughts...

#40 Post by artzend » Sun Apr 20, 2008 1:35 pm

Nasser

I'm with you on the endangered animals thing.

Tim

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Re: Just some thoughts...

#41 Post by dearbone » Sun Apr 20, 2008 4:05 pm

Tim,
Thank you, your country is also a precious place, blessed with unique animals and nature just like mine and the beautiful America,this is it mother earth and there is no other better place to go, we must take care to preserve it, it is our duty.
regards Nasser.

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Re: Just some thoughts...

#42 Post by dearbone » Sun Apr 20, 2008 4:51 pm

I just heard today that our Canadian polar bear has been put in the endangered animal list, thanks to all of you international rich hunters,who come north and pay up to $30000.00 to a poor local northern to take you there to shoot such a magestic animal in cold blood.

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Re: Just some thoughts...

#43 Post by dw » Mon Apr 21, 2008 6:31 am

While I do not disagree (who could?) with anything already said I do have some thoughts that may or may not add to the conversation.

Like a lot of liberal and/or "popular" causes, this type of thing carries a real danger of slipping into demagoguery. We do well to remember that while we each of us has the ability...maybe even a moral duty...to behave in a responsible manner and chose materials and techniques that honour the connections between ourselves and the world around us, in the end it mostly comes down to what other people say is right or wrong.

How do you know if an animal is endangered or not? Because someone says so? At one time the American Alligator was on the endangered species list. At one time several species of Australian kangaroo were considered endangered despite the Australian government's adamant claims that the kangaroo was a "pest" that would quickly overwhelm its environment if not checked.

Clearly in both cases, someone had it wrong. But the real issue is that relying on "official" proclamations, or politically motivated "science" only serves to relieve us of personal responsibility.

It might also be noted that in some instances, hides or leathers on the market are there because of rational management...such as the culling of old and sick elephants by park rangers and that the proceeds from the sales of such products often go to further enhance the environment of the parks and management practices. Not to use such materials doesn't make us more righteous it just makes the leather go to waste.

Every piece of leather that we use comes from an animal that, individually, was "endangered" just prior to slaughter. This may seem a bit specious until you understand that, ultimately, the argument is whether to use leather or eat meat or even milk a cow, in the first place. We can't avoid that because, as a premise, it is the logical extension of the supposition that use of exotic leathers...and by extension, any leather...is reprehensible. As shoemakers, we do not create the demand. If human society wishes to avoid certain types of leather, all well and good. But eventually, if only because human beings are only randomly rational, demand for all leather products will dry up in the wake of such consensus. I think we are seeing that even now. In fact, I think the loss of our Trade is as much because leather is not considered as desirable a good as it was in times gone by.

And there's one other element that enters into the whole discussion...what is the alternative? Almost any substitute for leather or fur is synthetic and petro-chemically based. You know...the stuff of global warming and toxic waste dumps and the destruction of the coral reefs. Is it better to destroy a forest to save a fox?

What's more, there is a real question as to whether creating synthetic substitutes...even faux alligator, or faux fox...doesn't create as much or more demand for the real thing as the real thing.

Living in harmony with nature is not withdrawing from it, it is understanding our place in the chain of relationships...understanding that we are part of nature and that as omnivores and predators the best thing we can do is to utilize the resources that are available to us to the nth degree without spurious waste.


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Re: Just some thoughts...

#44 Post by dearbone » Sun Dec 14, 2008 1:57 pm

Emmett,

A benevolent dictatorship is fine with me as long as it listens to the consul of the elders and that's how benevolent dictatorship can only survive.

Nasser

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Re: Just some thoughts...

#45 Post by admin » Sun Dec 14, 2008 6:27 pm

Nasser,

Although it was said with a large dollop of (hopefully) self-effacing humour--it's not really a democracy or a dictatorship, it's more along the lines of anarchy and herding cats--nevertheless, I understand your concern. No worries, mate. I have three wise and noble colleagues that rubber stamp every decision I make...("it's a joke, son" ) Image

Emmett...sweeping the light circle

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Re: Just some thoughts...

#46 Post by admin » Wed Dec 17, 2008 6:49 am

The burgeoning thread on historic boot and shoemaking techniques has been moved to
"Open Forum" > "Boots and Shoes In History" > "The Gentle Craft."

Admin's cautionary note and the response have been sent to Coventry as they would only detract from the discussion.

Emmett--sweeping the light fantastic

(Message edited by admin on December 17, 2008)

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Re: Just some thoughts...

#47 Post by dearbone » Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:32 pm

Finally there is some good sonw falling here and more coming,I have been waiting for this, the only thing is i have to shovel it,at least the front door and the side walk in front of the store.

Al,

I know you like snow too,so i ask the weather god to send some your way whenever it snows here,but i think it is too stormy up there for it to hear.
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Nasser

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Re: Just some thoughts...

#48 Post by dearbone » Sat Dec 20, 2008 2:12 pm

Brendan,

Just curious! and i quote, "We have hit 3(deers) in the last 2 years.wrote off one Mazda.No injuries.,happy to hear that, but i wonder what happened to the deers,did they walked away with no injuies or what? did you get out and put them out?

Nasser
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(Message edited by dearbone on December 20, 2008)

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Re: Just some thoughts...

#49 Post by j_johansen » Sat Jun 13, 2009 7:37 am

DW,
Speaking of thoughts......
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFFMtq5g8N4
Enjoy, J.

andre

Re: Just some thoughts...

#50 Post by andre » Thu Nov 25, 2010 9:53 pm

Al,
my entire life I'm in this rubbish business, I can't take it anymore, even have produced millions of shoes and uppers these guys are surprising me every season again with something "new". Of course, if you're in the fashion it has to be new, otherwise it's many times adding some more pain to the customer's feet and their balance sheets. Even worser, if you enter a shoe-center with your wife, not even after an half hour, I'm starting sweating and getting breathing problems. And these guys are the hit, they buy everything and all kind of crape together, in the first months they sell all shoes of the few sell-able styles, than one month before Christams they are starting the "SELL-Discount" action for 50% and more off and in Feb they start releasing that again they did not earn money. What a business concept! And they change or at least think about? Of course not, next season new game, new look, provided they are not broke by the time.
But this time will give instructions - no more risks. Yeah, from now on you will see only 99% black shoes, like in the undertakers showroom, because colors were not selling....
Like I said, sometimes the obvious has not to be the correct one. God give me patience....
Andre

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