JC2019

Anyone ever do an apprenticeship? Was it worth it?

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Hi all, new here.  I've been starting to research and I was wondering if anyone here has had more "formal" training? What did you learn and how long was it for? What was the cost (if any)? Would you recommend it? 

What do courses typically cost? I am in the bay area if you could recommend anything. I've found a few classes that cost  $3k+ around me.

Thanks

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4 hours ago, JC2019 said:

Hi all, new here.  I've been starting to research and I was wondering if anyone here has had more "formal" training? What did you learn and how long was it for? What was the cost (if any)? Would you recommend it? 

What do courses typically cost? I am in the bay area if you could recommend anything. I've found a few classes that cost  $3k+ around me.

Thanks

What do they offer for $3k I have to ask. Got me curious as you mentioned an interest in exotics which is 95 % of my business making for other brand names. Most of the product on our web site is the same designs we do for others in crocodile products mostly. A look into my profile here should show you more. What type of products and level of training are you wanting? For a day or 2 of showing how its done and what with it would cost you 0000 + a flight to here and back. For 2 weeks solid full time maybe 2k. For a long as allowed time ......perhaps depends on your ability to work and again the cost of a flight to here and back. 

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Good offer by Rocky, with his skills i wish i could go myself

Apprenticeships may be the wrong word to describe what you are looking for, in the UK and many other countries a apprenticeships lasts about 3 to 5 years working under a master tradesman, but watered down now to cheap labour and a bit of basic schooling for many positions which are a insult to call apprenticeships

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Apprenticeships in most of the world tend to involve the apprentice working full time alongside experienced professionals for several years. There are often formal exams and certificates throughout. The apprentice is paid commensurate with their experience and skill, and adds value to the master's business by doing a lot of the drudge work, and even taking on some of the teaching of less experienced apprentices.

Here in the UK there are typically three different "apprenticeship routes" to leatherwork: saddler, harness maker and cordwainer. Each takes about three years of full time education.

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2 hours ago, RockyAussie said:

For a day or 2 of showing how its done and what with it would cost you 0000 + a flight to here and back. For 2 weeks solid full time maybe 2k. For a long as allowed time ......perhaps depends on your ability to work and again the cost of a flight to here and back. 

Be careful you may get a swarm of people taking you up on this offer! :lol:  I'm thinking about it now.

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10 minutes ago, arashikage said:

I'm thinking about it now.

Hmmm ... How many frequent flyer points do I need for Perth to Rockhampton? :rolleyes:

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56 minutes ago, Matt S said:

Apprenticeships in most of the world tend to involve the apprentice working full time alongside experienced professionals for several years. There are often formal exams and certificates throughout. The apprentice is paid commensurate with their experience and skill, and adds value to the master's business by doing a lot of the drudge work, and even taking on some of the teaching of less experienced apprentices.

Here in the UK there are typically three different "apprenticeship routes" to leatherwork: saddler, harness maker and cordwainer. Each takes about three years of full time education.

My three year full time, degree level course at college in London in 1980 ish covered Leathergoods of all kinds design, pattern cutting, making etc, Factory Management, and one year full time Saddlery and ancilliary trades. There was no available, similar apprenticeship, but we took the same City and Guilds of London examinations as the specialist apprentices in say Light Leathergoods Production, Cutting, Skiving etc, leading towards the final qualifications.

At todays rates the annual cost would be more than £9000, plus living expenses, in London (Cordwainers College has been subsumed into the London College of Fashion, part of the University of the Arts, London).

If my business was bigger, I would offer an apprenticeship, but I would be their employer (hand in glove with the UK goverment nowadays), and when we get the sales going through, I will look into this, as Cordwainers no longer exists in the same format.

H

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I started in 1972, having only a brief introduction to leather crafting in public school about 10 years prior (as I recall I made a key case for my mother). Found a couple of books in the public library, read a few articles by those with some experience. There was no Internet, no Leatherworker.net. Basically, I had to learn every step and every process by trial and error. Somehow that must have worked because my little holster business was a good sideline during all my years as a cop. When the internet came along I started offering a few products on-line, and that generated other orders. I developed a website and the business took off like I never would have imagined (customers in all 50 US states and 33 other countries).

I became the businessman needing help. I hired and trained several people, including some good workers and a few slackers, but by the time they started becoming reasonably productive their lives took other directions. For several years I felt more like a babysitter than an employer. The employees always got their days off, holidays, vacation time, and paychecks. I never had a day off, never took a vacation, and (depending on cash flows) frequently had to short myself to make payrolls.

Personally, I think a paid apprenticeship would be a wonderful idea! Young person pays me to teach a trade, maybe that young person would place a higher value on the lessons learned.

Sold the business in 2015 and retired for good. Only leather work I have done since has been a hat band for my new Stetson.

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5 hours ago, RockyAussie said:

What do they offer for $3k I have to ask. Got me curious as you mentioned an interest in exotics which is 95 % of my business making for other brand names. Most of the product on our web site is the same designs we do for others in crocodile products mostly. A look into my profile here should show you more. What type of products and level of training are you wanting? For a day or 2 of showing how its done and what with it would cost you 0000 + a flight to here and back. For 2 weeks solid full time maybe 2k. For a long as allowed time ......perhaps depends on your ability to work and again the cost of a flight to here and back. 

Thanks all. Perhaps the right word would I should have used is atelier. 

Ah, and yeah I would love to that one day, especially because of my interest in exotics. That seems like a fantastic offer. I may ask you some questions. I believe you are also interested in 3d printing and lasers (from your album)?

One is  Amblard Leather Atelier (Hermès trained teacher) , mainly starting with small stuff building up to bag making. It's about $3.5k for the starter class of 12 full Saturdays. The entire program seems to add up to maybe closer to 17k.

The other is John Fong Exotics, (found him on a list of exotic suppliers posted here actually) who I went to visit because of my interest in exotics and I didn't realize he also offered classes. That is also about $3k for 3 full weeks (which can be spread over weekends) to learn how to make moccasins, belts, wallets and misc accessories.

They both seem like great options to me but I don't know much. I would do both if money was of no concern. I will need to save up and be a bit responsible. My interest is in everything from wallets, backpacks, jackets  but i've always had a weak spot for footwear.  I'm a complete beginner and I am not sure if I am too green for these classes. 

 

I suppose the balance is always between spending that money on tools and material and messing up on my own. But I am not sure, a good teacher in my eyes is worth a lot, especially for things like footwear. I can't even find many resources on "modern  moccasins". Much less on making cowboy boots which I know takes years to learn and I've only seen a $900~ DVD online recommended on a guide on reddit. The other thing I find extremely hard to find even books on  are exotics. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by JC2019

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38 minutes ago, JC2019 said:

Thanks all. Perhaps the right word would I should have used is atelier. 

Ah, and yeah I would love to that one day, especially because of my interest in exotics. That seems like a fantastic offer. I may ask you some questions. I believe you are also interested in 3d printing and lasers (from your album)?

One is  Amblard Leather Atelier (Hermès trained teacher) , mainly starting with small stuff building up to bag making. It's about $3.5k for the starter class of 12 full Saturdays. The entire program seems to add up to maybe closer to 17k.

The other is John Fong Exotics, (found him on a list of exotic suppliers posted here actually) who I went to visit because of my interest in exotics and I didn't realize he also offered classes. That is also about $3k for 3 full weeks (which can be spread over weekends) to learn how to make moccasins, belts, wallets and misc accessories.

They both seem like great options to me but I don't know much. I would do both if money was of no concern. I will need to save up and be a bit responsible. My interest is in everything from wallets, backpacks, jackets  but i've always had a weak spot for footwear.  I'm a complete beginner and I am not sure if I am too green for these classes. 

 

I suppose the balance is always between spending that money on tools and material and messing up on my own. But I am not sure, a good teacher in my eyes is worth a lot, especially for things like footwear. I can't even find many resources on "modern  moccasins". Much less on making cowboy boots which I know takes years to learn and I've only seen a $900~ DVD online recommended on a guide on reddit. The other thing I find extremely hard to find even books on  are exotics. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The world of shoes and boots really is hard to get into without some teaching being involved. There is just so so much to it, and not a lot of cordwainers/boot makers around. I have been researching and gathering tools and tidbits of resources for over two years off and on. I still haven't made a pair yet. But, I know some of that is my endless fruitless pursuit of perfection. They say the pursuit of perfection is paralysis. 

I suffer from this a lot.  

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1 hour ago, bikermutt07 said:

The world of shoes and boots really is hard to get into without some teaching being involved. There is just so so much to it, and not a lot of cordwainers/boot makers around. I have been researching and gathering tools and tidbits of resources for over two years off and on. I still haven't made a pair yet. But, I know some of that is my endless fruitless pursuit of perfection. They say the pursuit of perfection is paralysis. 

I suffer from this a lot.  

Yeah I have the same problem. I often want to do tons of research and read or watch guides, I am trying to change that and just go for it. I find I am more inclined to learn via a structured class. So in a sense, spending the money just so I get started and actually complete a few complex projects could be worh it for me. 

 

What resources have you been able to find? Any good videos ?

 

 

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31 minutes ago, JC2019 said:

Yeah I have the same problem. I often want to do tons of research and read or watch guides, I am trying to change that and just go for it. I find I am more inclined to learn via a structured class. So in a sense, spending the money just so I get started and actually complete a few complex projects could be worh it for me. 

 

What resources have you been able to find? Any good videos ?

 

 

Unfortunately Lisa Sorrell no longer teaches her boot making class, but her DVD was probably the $900 one. She's really good and I have heard lots of good things about her DVDs. She also sells all the tools you need. https://sorrellnotionsandfindings.com/  But you might be able to learn a few things from her youtube channel. https://www.youtube.com/user/customboots

Not sure where in California you are but you could try contacting the closest guild and see if they know of anything close. https://leathercraftersjournal.com/guilds/

Sorry I don't have links to boots or exotics but,

For Shoes:
Marcell Mrsan does a series of DVDs and Vimeo videos. I plan on getting them myself. Online videos = https://vimeo.com/ondemand/allshoemaking.  DVD = https://www.cordwainertools.com/tutorials/9-dvds-the-whole-dvd-collection. He also sells all the tools you need. The plus side is Marcell also teaches different classes in Savannah Georgia. https://www.shoemakingcourse.com/

Brooklyn Shoe Space also teach a variety of classes. http://brooklynshoespace.com/

Andrew Wrigley does a nice series on youtube on hand made shoes. https://www.youtube.com/user/wigglesworthh/videos.

I can Make Shoes offer online courses. They also occasionally team up with Brooklyn Shoe Space. https://icanmakeshoes.com/

 

Hope this helps.

 

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Those prices make Nigel Armitage video's at £3 per month seem fantastic value, and whilst not covering Cordwaining he does cover probably 90% of techniques most will find usefull at some time in most leatherworkers knowledge base

https://vimeo.com/armitageleather

 

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11 minutes ago, arashikage said:

Unfortunately Lisa Sorrell no longer teaches her boot making class, but her DVD was probably the $900 one. She's really good and I have heard lots of good things about her DVDs. She also sells all the tools you need. https://sorrellnotionsandfindings.com/  But you might be able to learn a few things from her youtube channel. https://www.youtube.com/user/customboots

Not sure where in California you are but you could try contacting the closest guild and see if they know of anything close. https://leathercraftersjournal.com/guilds/

Sorry I don't have links to boots or exotics but,

For Shoes:
Marcell Mrsan does a series of DVDs and Vimeo videos. I plan on getting them myself. Online videos = https://vimeo.com/ondemand/allshoemaking.  DVD = https://www.cordwainertools.com/tutorials/9-dvds-the-whole-dvd-collection. He also sells all the tools you need. The plus side is Marcell also teaches different classes in Savannah Georgia. https://www.shoemakingcourse.com/

Brooklyn Shoe Space also teach a variety of classes. http://brooklynshoespace.com/

Andrew Wrigley does a nice series on youtube on hand made shoes. https://www.youtube.com/user/wigglesworthh/videos.

I can Make Shoes offer online courses. They also occasionally team up with Brooklyn Shoe Space. https://icanmakeshoes.com/

 

Hope this helps.

 

Cool thanks. Will look. I am in the Bay Area, California. I found a shoe class but it says the latest class was 2017 so it might have ended.

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6 hours ago, arashikage said:

Unfortunately Lisa Sorrell no longer teaches her boot making class, but her DVD was probably the $900 one. She's really good and I have heard lots of good things about her DVDs. She also sells all the tools you need. https://sorrellnotionsandfindings.com/  But you might be able to learn a few things from her youtube channel. https://www.youtube.com/user/customboots

Not sure where in California you are but you could try contacting the closest guild and see if they know of anything close. https://leathercraftersjournal.com/guilds/

Sorry I don't have links to boots or exotics but,

For Shoes:
Marcell Mrsan does a series of DVDs and Vimeo videos. I plan on getting them myself. Online videos = https://vimeo.com/ondemand/allshoemaking.  DVD = https://www.cordwainertools.com/tutorials/9-dvds-the-whole-dvd-collection. He also sells all the tools you need. The plus side is Marcell also teaches different classes in Savannah Georgia. https://www.shoemakingcourse.com/

Brooklyn Shoe Space also teach a variety of classes. http://brooklynshoespace.com/

Andrew Wrigley does a nice series on youtube on hand made shoes. https://www.youtube.com/user/wigglesworthh/videos.

I can Make Shoes offer online courses. They also occasionally team up with Brooklyn Shoe Space. https://icanmakeshoes.com/

 

Hope this helps.

 

These are pretty much the same places I have found. 

I also found this guy...

https://laughingcrowe.com/

And Tim Skyrme's Bespoke Shoemaking is pretty great.

If you buy it from Tim's website it comes autographed.

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@JC2019, So I did find, http://dimlights.com/features/bootmaking-schools/

There is a boot maker named Michael Anthony listed in Sebastopol, CA an hour from San Fran that may do 1 student at a time. Might be worth checking into?

@bikermutt07 I had forgot about laughingcrow.com. Definitely some good looking un-lasted shoes. Skyrme's book is definitely on my list too. 

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17 hours ago, RockyAussie said:

For a long as allowed time ......perhaps depends on your ability to work and again the cost of a flight to here and back.

What are the visitor visa restrictions?  Seems 90 days, but can you work?  Looked briefly into this, would be $1500 round trip, $2400 rent, food, etc, so $4k to work for you.  Would really already be on your doorstep if you were local.

YinTx

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1 hour ago, YinTx said:

What are the visitor visa restrictions?  Seems 90 days, but can you work?  Looked briefly into this, would be $1500 round trip, $2400 rent, food, etc, so $4k to work for you.  Would really already be on your doorstep if you were local.

YinTx

@YinTx I know you are already very skilled so I would have no hesitation in working out some arrangement for where you would get paid. I did a bit of looking into this awhile back and I would have to look into this again to get some further clarification. I can teach you how to make products and techniques etc but if the products go on to be sold you then have to be paid (Australian Law). Training for the first couple of weeks would not be on goods to be sold anyway so no problem there (you pay me some :)) after that I pay firstly the minimum wage (around $20.00 au). Food and accommodation we could work something out. You would always be welcome to visit and I look forward to that at any time you can make it.

I can only handle 1 or 2 people on this type of arrangement as I am VERY much a 1 on 1 type of a communicator. I like to give value but also I like to receive  value in return.

Brian

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4 hours ago, RockyAussie said:

@YinTx I know you are already very skilled so I would have no hesitation in working out some arrangement for where you would get paid. I did a bit of looking into this awhile back and I would have to look into this again to get some further clarification. I can teach you how to make products and techniques etc but if the products go on to be sold you then have to be paid (Australian Law). Training for the first couple of weeks would not be on goods to be sold anyway so no problem there (you pay me some :)) after that I pay firstly the minimum wage (around $20.00 au). Food and accommodation we could work something out. You would always be welcome to visit and I look forward to that at any time you can make it.

I can only handle 1 or 2 people on this type of arrangement as I am VERY much a 1 on 1 type of a communicator. I like to give value but also I like to receive  value in return.

Brian

I didn't think it was possible, Brian, but you just got a little more Ausome in my book.;)

Edited by bikermutt07

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12 hours ago, arashikage said:

@JC2019, So I did find, http://dimlights.com/features/bootmaking-schools/

There is a boot maker named Michael Anthony listed in Sebastopol, CA an hour from San Fran that may do 1 student at a time. Might be worth checking into?

@bikermutt07 I had forgot about laughingcrow.com. Definitely some good looking un-lasted shoes. Skyrme's book is definitely on my list too. 

I did buy his boot video (even though I haven't made a pair yet) and I have to say the segment on skiving section alone is worth the price of the video. 

 

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Nah... every USEFUL thing i ever learned was largely IN SPITE OF schools, rather than because of them.  ;)

In 1980-something, I asked a guy a question.  Maybe a week or two later, I asked another one.  By the time I saw him a third time (he was SUPPOSED TO BE making a belt for me) he had a sign up "this is not a school".  I let him live.  But he irritated me enough that I decided to 1) make my own belt, and 2) make an example out of this petty, passive/aggressive woman in a man suit (seriously, a man could have said your belt isn't ready, but here's a rough time frame).

I bought a good number of books, which in those days were largely Stohlman, and taught myself.  Didn't take long to surpass most, but then I actually wanted to learn, not interested in doing little as possible to get someone to give me money.

Now days, there are 'classes' and videos everywhere.  Buy them if you like .. :dunno:  But the people making those, somehow managed to learn WITHOUT those.  People learned BEFORE those existed.  

"Apprentice" is a polite sounding word, but an "apprentice" is supposed to be PAID, not the one doing the PAYING.  Any 'payment' (compensation) would reasonably be in the form of a lower wage than would be expected for an accomplished, experienced worker.  People ABSOLUTELY DO learn trades by working "for" or "under" someone more experienced.  And they get PAID to work "under" them.

I always say, when a fella thinks his opinion is worth SO much that I should pay him to hear it ... he can KEEP it ;)

 

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2 hours ago, JLSleather said:

People ABSOLUTELY DO learn trades by working "for" or "under" someone more experienced.  And they get PAID to work "under" them.

Indeed.  And for a while there the model was kinda disappearing,  because the craft of leatherworkers dwindled for a long time, and many of those still in it didn't want to share their skills or knowledge.  I think there was an interview with Bill Gomer at Elk Tracks Studio where he mentioned an older leather worker that was mad at him for trying to learn the skills by watching and using his tools.  It would be good to see it coming back.  

2 hours ago, JLSleather said:

I bought a good number of books,

 

2 hours ago, JLSleather said:

when a fella thinks his opinion is worth SO much that I should pay him to hear it ... he can KEEP it

the books weren't free... just sayin...  :P

YinTx

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I do agree that an apprentice needs to be paid a fair wage if the end work is going to be sold or charged for, otherwise it is just schooling. All education whether by seminar, weekend courses, college, trade school or university the student pays to learn a skill.

Oh how times have changed from the indentured apprenticeships like my grandfather done. Seven years paying, yes paying, every week to learn under a master before being able to become one himself, he was a master tailor. We had other "tailors" in the family who he scuffed at not because their work wasn't decent but he considered them to be "factory" tailors. In his eyes they had to use pre-made patterns, etc. to produce a good end product rather then a being able to it from scratch with just the bolt of cloth in front of them.

kgg

 

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For at least the first year the apprentice costs you money as they know nothing and take a lot of your time teaching the basics and correcting there mistakes

In the second year they can be trusted to help make the basic items for the master to finish off, the master still has to put time aside to teach new techniques and skills so maybe a 50/50 year

In the third year the apprentice is improving their skills and making the master some more money

At the end of the third year the apprentice is skilled and leaves the master and the overall training is balanced

Another point is that not all masters can teach or want to, they can show how to do something just like a video or book, but to actually teach, just like many youg school teachers, teaching and doing are not always the same thing

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It took me maybe a month to be making belts nicer than any around me - not YEARS.  By the time I was at it a year, I could DUPLICATE any of the designs in those books I mentioned, and often improved on them.  By the time I'd been tooling a year, I had more work than I could reasonably do by myself. 

I would have been willing to pay someone to help with the requests and orders, but couldn't find anyone who was both able and willing.  Those who were able weren't willing, much like Yin points out, "many of those still in it didn't want to share their skills or knowledge".  Which is a much nicer way of saying that they fear competition.   And those who were willing weren't able - many couldn't get past the idea of bopping some wet cow and smearing some 'antique' poo on it.  I DID manage to find a guy who draws and sketches incredibly well to do some of the design work for a while so I could tool and color the leather.

These days I see (hear) people watching HOURS and HOURS of videos about sewing two pieces together.  It's a SNARE people... you learn to sew by SEWING.   There's a WHYintheworld video for EVERYTHING... you can learn an entire trade without leaving the house.  Still need to put it into practice (which is called 'experience').

1 hour ago, YinTx said:

the books weren't free... just sayin...  :P

YinTx

True.  Nor was the leather I destroyed learning to do it.  Also paid for the dyes, paints, threads, tools -- all of which I would have needed anyway.  MOST the books I bought were between $6-20 each.  So if somebody wanted to SHOW me what the book said, instead of me getting my own  book, then I wouldn't have objected to paying somebody that same amount to show me what the book said. 

But that wasn't possible.  The people who were 'doing leather' often didn't have the books, and those who did had basically resigned themselves to doing no more than absolutely necessary to get a dollar for what they called "leather craft" (most of them went the way of "craft shows" and "fairs", where cheap, fast, "commercial grade" leather work is passed off as "craftsmanship".

 

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