“Think bespoke!”, says the master while he introduces me into the philosophy of making high-end shoes. “To make shoes you need a vision, dimensions and a method…” I hardly keep up writing down everything he says.
My name is Cristian Ariton, shoemaker apprentice with J.P. Myhre, the renown bespoke boot maker from Oslo. It is an honor to have my story published on Claymoor’s List. I own to this blog the ignition of my passion and inspiration. I hope that this article will inspire someone to start a similar journey or to learn any other craft.
How it started.
Educated in Human Resources Management, with no background related to leather working, I was heading slowly to a corporate life. In the meantime I had a job in Norway and a professional blog about HR. Unlike other members of my family I had no skills to do any practical work, no interest in fashion, shoes and so on.
The turning point happened in one night at work. I tried on a pair of black oxfords by Crockett and Jones, model Ashdown in cordovan, hand grade. From that very moment I`ve started to read about shoes, learn styles, makers, learn shoe care and polish.
The passion grew into an obsession. Everything was about shoes: post on Facebook, readings, talks, plans. Outside of the house, airports or restaurants, my focus was to spot formal shoes and identify the maker. I got encouraged by my brothers to think about learning to make shoes.
Tempted but scared of this idea I checked a video tutorial about hand welting. I was depressed and I felt like I would never be able to execute those operations. I’ve tried so hard to forget about it. A few days after that I found myself placing an order of 5 tools and some practice leather (all useless now, of course). I melted candles and mixed the wax with sawdust in an attempt to cast some “lasts” using some high ankle casuals. I knew that I crossed the safety line.
For several weeks I tried to find reasons for shoemaking. Except my brothers, Madalina and my boss, everyone was uninterested or against the idea. I prayed to God for purpose, support and peace regarding the decision to quit everything and go for shoemaking. I found a picture of the feet of an African boy and I instantly knew not only what I want to be, but how I want to be regarding shoemaking. With this Crispin like dream I started to do preparations. The HR skills has helped me a lot to organize the research and connect to key people. To me, the Maftei family was of a great help. They encouraged me to contact J P Myhre and to follow my dream, assuring me of their total support. Thank you, Roxana and Alexandru Maftei!
An apprenticeship with JP Myhre seemed to be a mad idea. I knew a lot about him, his shoes, and his reputation disarmed me. Battling with myself I visited him on 4th of September 2013 and my apprenticeship started right away.
He made a detailed plan for short and long term and all the requirements were: trust, commitment and hard work. We started by organizing the toolbox, sharpening/making knives, understanding the tools and shaping them correctly (f.e. the edge irons, even if they come from Barnsley, need to be reshaped to obtain the correct angles/curves on the 2 axes, to channel the bottom grooves to make the iron fit the shape of the sole).
To be continued …