Diamonds on the soles of her shoes...

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Re: Diamonds on the soles of her shoes...

#26 Post by dearbone » Sat Jun 06, 2009 1:43 pm

I have been here for close to two years,i have not seen a single western /cowboy boot maker making an attempt at at hand stitching an outsoles to boots,machines are fine,but a cordwaianer is a cordwainer,please learn
to out stitch by hand and get rid of sole stitchers, and learn to out stitch by hand, you will be surprised.

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Re: Diamonds on the soles of her shoes...

#27 Post by dw » Sat Jun 06, 2009 4:03 pm

Nasser,

My Image

First, cowboy boots evolved as a separate style after the outsole stitcher was introduced. It is only natural that those who specialized in making the cowboy boot would take up the stitcher.

Second, few cowboy bootmakers make shoes at all--it is very nearly a separate Trade...sad as that may be.

Third, the curved needle machine can produce a fine job--I often stitch at ten or eleven to the inch with mine and I can bury the stitches in a channel that, if only for its consistency, looks far better than a hand channel that is not done with exacting skill. And the stitches will be uniformly tight and even.

Fourth, you just haven't been here long enough. Jake Dobbins sewed most of his outsoles by hand using techniques, and obtaining results, not so different than those used in Eastern Europe. I don't have any way to identify the photos that Jake posted of his hand work but it's there if you look.

Fifth, I offer the following:

This pair of boots was made in 2002...

http://www.thehcc.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2640 look to post made on 23 November 2002.

This pair of shoes was made on (or about) 30 March 2008 and while hand stitching is not discussed in the post (if I recall correctly, I mentioned it at some length in the Gallery Gossip posts that followed) the outsole is shown quite clearly and that channeling job could not have been done without hand stitching.

http://www.thehcc.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=7783

If an opinion (that's all it is) from someone who has done both is worth anything, I like the hand stitching better...if it is done well. If it is done with a square awl and at 10 or better spi. Such stitching, combined with a well executed channel takes the outseam and the outsole head and shoulders above anything the machine can do...aesthetically.

If a person hasn't mastered these techniques (and I don't claim to be a master) the machine stitching is not only adequate, it is head and shoulders over a clumsy job of hand stitching...aesthetically...and probably at least as good mechanically.

Again, that's just my opinion...your mileage may vary.

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Re: Diamonds on the soles of her shoes...

#28 Post by dw » Sat Jun 06, 2009 4:28 pm

Rather than make my previous post too long, I reserved a few comments:

I am well known for my love of traditional techniques and where it not only demonstrably yields superior results, but the materials are available at something less than a prohibitive price, I tend to prefer and use traditional techniques above more modern techniques.

Some even regard my attitude as too "backward" or unrealistic.

But if we are going to eschew techniques or materials which yield good, even great, results simply because they are "modern" or post Industrial Revolution...or even because they are not part of the shoemaker's traditional kit...then the first thing that should go out the window is the sewing machine.

These is no significant difference between using a Pfaff 491 post machine to close and using a Landis K to outseam. Neither has the moral high ground and neither produce results that are mechanically (or even aesthetically) superior to hand work.

By that standard, the only tools appropriate for a real life, sure enough, cordwainer are:

My freinds, I pray you list to me,
And marke what S. Hughes bones shall be.
First a Drawer, and a Dresser
two Wedges, a more and a lesser:
A pretty blocke three inches high,
in fashion sqared like a Die,
Which shall be called by proper name,
A Heel blocke, the very same.
A Hand-leather and a thumb-leather like wise
to pull out shoo-threed we must despise;
The Needle and the thimble
shall not be left alone
the Pincers and the pricking Awle
and the rubbing stone.
The Awle steele and the Tackes,
the Sow-haires beside,
The Stirrop holding fast,
while we sowe the cow-hide.
The whetstone, the stopping sticke,
and the paring knife
All this doth belong
to a Journeymans life
Our Apron is the Shrine,
to wrap these bones in:
Thus shrowd we Saint Hugh,
in gentle lambes skinne...

That list, known as Saint Hugh's Bones, was the traditional shoemaker's full kit of tools...

Image

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Re: Diamonds on the soles of her shoes...

#29 Post by dearbone » Sun Jun 07, 2009 5:02 am

DW,

Thank you for the comprehensive reply,that was a good looking hand stitch you did on the black boots,getting good at hand stitching is like every thing else require practice and more practice and mastery takes decades, the invention of sewing machine around 1850s also caused riots and shops with machines were attacked,of course people than were worried about their jobs and the bottom line,i think the two machines also degraded/lowered the standards/skills generally, not to mention the near demise of the trade.Thanks for that wonderful poem.

Lisa, great job on arranging so many different colors to produce your boots.

Nasser

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Re: Diamonds on the soles of her shoes...

#30 Post by dw » Sun Jun 07, 2009 6:13 am

Nasser,

Thanks for the kind words regarding my hand stitching.

You are correct about the turmoil that the sewing machine caused, but it wasn't confined to sewing machines...almost every invention or machine that originated during the Industrial Revolution caused the same upheavals and discontent. Mechanized looms and and machines to spin wool or cotton had the same effect.

Broadsides, riots and general resistance resulted when any new machine was introduced...so much so that people complained vociferously about being made into "wage slaves." And people were still complaining about it well into the early 20th century. The term "luddite" originated in this time period as well as "saboteur." The latter term referred to mobs throwing their wooden shoes--"sabots"--into looms to wreck them.

As far as diminishing the quality of the work...in general I agree with you. But a machine is just a tool. An extension of the hand and mind just as a hammer or an awl is. As such it is not the quality of the work that is diminished...that can happen whether the work is being done by hand or machine, depending on the skill and dedication of the worker...rather it was a change in the definition of quality that changed.

So much so that many people no longer look to work done in the past as examples or standards of quality; so much so that few in this society would recognize quality if it hit them over the head.

But that doesn't mean that quality and skill are necessarily tied to the hand (or to a machine). Both quality and skill are tied to the heart, if anything, and external factors are only incidental.

While I accept machines and use them...sometimes in preference to doing it by hand (so do you--you use a sewing machine, don't you?)...I can give you a great example of a machine that actually does a better job than can be done by hand--the Fortuna skiver. No, it doesn't have the range and flexibility that hand work does...that will always be true of any tool...but the result of using a skiving machine are always clean, even and consistent. At the end of the day, when we sweep up the scraps and throw them in the garbage, what is left is at least as good and usually better than what can be done by hand.

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chuck_deats

Re: Diamonds on the soles of her shoes...

#31 Post by chuck_deats » Sun Jun 07, 2009 6:33 am

Nasser, Just for the record. I have posted several pair of boots over the last few years, including one pair in DW's second reference. All have hand stitched outsoles inspired by Jake Dobbins. Had a pair of of work boots stitched at a shoe shop. Like the look of hand stitch better but functionally they work just fine. Guess you hit a tender spot.

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Re: Diamonds on the soles of her shoes...

#32 Post by dearbone » Sun Jun 07, 2009 8:31 am

DW,

I agree with most of what you said,but It is hard for me to accept that the sewing/stitching machines are natural evolution from hammer and awl,although they were invented to best copy the hand process,they built the car and called it extension of the horse and even ranked the motor/engine power in horse power,(Nomad inventions),but is the car a natural leap from the horse? i think machines were inventions of will and with time we have no choice,but to follow their dictates, i do sew upper by machine and every time i see a pure hand sewn upper from the past,i am humbled and reminded.BTW i like your hand sewn soles better than any you stitched with machine,just my opinion.

Chuck,

I am sorry i missed your hand sole stitching boots,i will look for them and Jake's.
my wish is that one day i like to last and out sole a pair of western/cowboy boots.

Nasser

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Re: Diamonds on the soles of her shoes...

#33 Post by dw » Sun Jun 07, 2009 11:27 am

Nasser,

There's really no conflict. I, too, am humbled by the work done in times past. We may not be in the minority on this forum but we are probably in the minority within the larger population, however...or at least within the larger shoe/bootmaking population.

That said, it is easier to recognize the sewing machine as a natural extension of the human hand when you think about the progression of human work. Once upon a time the only thing a human being had to apply direct force was the human hand...or the human fist. But soon enough human beings realized that if that same hand/fist held a rock it greatly amplified the application of force, and didn't hurt so much. One thing led to another and soon human beings found that if they bound a stout stick to the rock even more force could be applied and even less pain incurred. And thus was the first hammer invented.

Every most basic tool was an extension of the hand. But the object...the goal...was not simply to protect the hand or to display intellectual prowesss but rather to increase efficiency and accuracy, and to magnify human strengths and minimize human frailty.

Machines do all of that. The clicking machine is an extension of, or some would say an evolution from, the hand held knife and in turn the hand held knife is an extension of using your teeth to cut, tear, and rip. Similarly the skiving machine. These machines are faster and in some instances cut more cleanly and accurately than a hand-held knife can...simply because of human frailty.

The Sewing machine is an extension of the tailor sitting cross-legged pushing an eyed needle, pulling thread, through cloth or leather. And the hand held needle is an evolutionary leap from the bone awl and tarred thread. In most cases the sewing machine is far faster and far more accurate not only in placement but in consistent spacing than hand sewing will ever be.

At the same time, none of these example are really equal. The best sewing machine does not make a stitch that is identical to the best hand work. It is almost two different worlds. If you choose to use a sewing machine then you must abandon all aspirations of duplicating hand work.

I'm not arguing against the beauty and the refinement that is evident in hand work done by master craftsmen. Such work is without peer. But in order to truly appreciate a hand sewn outsole, for instance, you nearly have to change your definition of what is merely acceptable and what is excellent.

All I'm saying is that in order to truly recognize and appreciate that work you have to be objective and see it in the context of other options.

As I have said many times, there is a fine line between efficiency and indifferent haste. Machines have their place, and for some machines at least, as long as the end result is not significantly inferior...mechanically...there is no harm nor foul in the added efficiency. No more so than in the added efficiency of binding a stout stick to a rock or the use of an atlatl to leverage distance, speed and power to a spear.

As for the aesthetics of the matter...well, some would say that's in the eye of the beholder. I'm not sure that I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment but it certainly is a cultural variable.


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Re: Diamonds on the soles of her shoes...

#34 Post by dw » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:01 am

I don't care what they say, that's funny...

predator shoes

And this is scary...not the shoes, the mind that conceived them

scary

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(Message edited by dw on October 17, 2012)

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Re: Diamonds on the soles of her shoes...

#35 Post by kemosabi » Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:56 pm

Ha! Wonder how long it takes to floss those soles?

You can leave dental records and footprints at the same time. Image

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Re: Diamonds on the soles of her shoes...

#36 Post by Herr_Leeb » Sun Sep 06, 2015 8:36 pm

Since this is the Speak Easy I hope it's ok to throw in my two cents even though I'm not an expert...

IMHO bespoke shoes or boots in our time are primarily LUXURY objects.
Very few people really NEED them. You can get a lot of shoes from Walmart for the price of one nice bespoke pair.
Superior construction techniques are not a necessity anymore, most people own more than one pair of shoes and
your Kenneth Cole or Cole Haan will last for a year or two before they go out of fashion.

I think the key to bespoke is that they are pure luxury, sometimes moving into absolute works of art if you look at the work of
Lisa Sorrell, Paul, DW and many more one this forum and of course other shoemakers all over the world.

Luxury means in my mind something created at the height of skill, beauty, quality and also tools used.
Better fit, better quality, better looks. You want to create the best you possibly can with the skills, experience, artistry AND tools available.

There are only rare cases where handstitching an upper is superior to a machine stitch, same goes for outsole stitching.
In most cases a machine makes nicer stitches. Same goes for skiving.

So why wouldn't you use a tool that produces the better result for the task at hand?
Why limit yourself to traditional hand tools if a machine achieves the better result?
How far will you actually go back in time to have the most purist tool?
Do you use a rock because a metal hammer is too much technology?

A decent shoemaker will hand welt a shoe because it produces a better result than a Goodyear machine AND use a machine for the outsole because most likely the stitches are nicer. He will use a skyver AND if the need arises, he will hand skive certain parts. Whatever produces the better result.

There are some good reasons not to use machines, like historical reproductions or the stunning works of art created by Duncan and others.

But shunning them just for the sake of it looks like masturbation to me.
Not that anything is wrong with that :)

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