Working Remotely on my Shoes

Image from: http://www.comnetwork.org/category/publications/

For our blog posts this week, we were asked to analyze our relationships with our mentors and what we can do to improve our relationships. I am very happy for the chance to reflect on this topic and apply the strategies theorized in this blog post to my real life relationship with my mentor so that I can have a better working relationship with Ron. I decided to answer the following questions in this blog post: What went particularly well during your mentoring sessions? What logical challenges affected your communication? What factors affected your ability to interact effectively? What three strategies could improve the quality of your mentoring interactions? What is the action plan for implementing each of the three strategies? I hope that in my blog post you can see how I answer these questions and relate them to my relationship with Ron. I am glad to reflect on this topic and try improve upon the connection I have with my mentor.

I think that Ron and I have reasonably productive sessions with a healthy sense of affability. We have made a lot of progress with the shoes during our sessions. His teaching style and my learning style have really clicked; we are very effective and efficient in relation to each

Over Coming Obstacles

other. Through our sessions together, I have come to know Ron better and I am sure he has gotten to know me better as well. I think that because we have learned more about each other’s history with cobbling, our mutual interests, and our learning as well as teaching styles, we have formed a strong working relationship. Though there are many things that have gone well in our mentoring sessions, there are still some logical challenges that affect our communication and factors that affect our ability to interact effectively. Some factors that have affected our ability to communicate effectively include our discrepancy in age and our different cultures. This is challenging because we prioritize things differently, place emphasis on different things, and have some very different interests. An example of these challenges factoring into our relationship was when Ron used some analogies to help my learning. His metaphors were good, but they made little sense to me because they was in reference to things I am too young to have been around for and are no longer a part of modern pop culture[1]. Three strategies I can implicate to overcome the challenges in communication that Ron and I face are prioritization of tasks, continued communication during the week, and openness to each other’s interests. ImageThrough prioritizing, we can become more efficient in communication. I plan to implicate this by using the ABC prioritization method when creating our agendas for our meetings. By communicating throughout the week before and after our sessions, I hope to create a stronger bond with my mentor as well as get better at interacting and working together. I would like to implement this weekly communication by e-mailing Ron regularly before our meetings to create agendas and discuss any questions or concerns that we may have. Staying open to each other’s interests is key to improving our relationship because of such a big difference in age and culture, we need to remain open to new things the other may introduce. By remaining open to new things, we get to know each other better and we get a better understanding of a different culture as well as time. I think that my relationship with my mentor is pretty good but that by implementing these strategies, I can improve it further so that we work better together and so that we both get more out of the relationship as well as learn from each other.

The type of leather I will be using.

I am pretty happy with how my in-depth project has been going so far; however, I have not made a lot of progress over the past two weeks because my mentor was away on vacation and because I of the first aid course (we missed two meetings). Though I could not physically work on my shoes, I did do some research on my own to try move forward and think ahead. This week I finalized my designs for the shoe and have definitely decided on the basic oxford shoe with a monk strap. After doing some research on cobbling methods, I have come to some preliminary conclusions about material. I have started to explore material options since my next step, which I will hopefully have accomplished by tomorrow afternoon, is cutting out my material for the shoe. I have decided to go with a soft and dark leather because it is easy to work with and will not show any mistakes that I make on my first pair of shoes. I think that researching on my own time has helped me get a better idea of how practical I really need to be in this process. Though I would prefer to make my shoes out of hard leather, I know that it would be very impractical and hard during the process.

In-depth has been a lot more fun than I expected, but it has also been a lot more work. This project is a lot larger than I initially thought, however, I don’t really mind because we get to explore a topic of our interests. I think that my passion for shoes has made this feel less like work and more like a fun adventure. I can not wait to begin sewing my shoes!

I could not add all the picture sources in the descriptions because of formatting issues so here are the sources for some of the pictures (in order form top to bottom)

Picture 1 , Picture 2, Picture 3.

[1] Ron really likes rock music from the 1970’s and talks about it often. However, I don’t understand anything he says when he talks about it.

Falling Head Over HEELS For Cobbling

Inside the store.

My mentor is Ron Nijdam, a third generation Dutch cobbler. He is well informed about shoe repair and has been involved in cobbling from a young age. The first time Ron tried his hand at cobbling was as a child in his grandfather’s shoe repair shop sanding and gluing heels. However, Ron learned the fine art of cobbling as a teenager when he worked in his father’s shoe repair shop. Ron was always very involved in his family’s business and was exposed to shoe repair from a young age. Ron soon moved from Holland to Canada and created his own shop in Vancouver on Denman Street where the Quick Cobbler operated for over 20 years. He has recently re-located the Quick Cobbler; but has added on some new branches to his store including Northopedics and Shuz Canada. Northopedics specializes in orthopedics while Shuz Canada creates custom made shoes in store. Ron has a lot of experience in repairing and creating shoes.

Work Space.

Ron is no doubt experienced when it comes to shoes. He uses his knowledge to mentor and teach others his unique methods for creating and repairing shoes. He has kept his family legacy alive by teaching his sons who actually work in the shop. He has also been mentoring me for the past few weeks. He has created a very welcoming learning environment and encourages my curiosity and creativity in this process. Shoe making is not an exact process and changes with circumstance; Ron’s teaching style reflects that. Each week we meet and work on my pair of shoes for about an hour. Usually Ron will give me instructions, an example, then lets me try complete the task on my own before jumping in near the end to check my work and facilitate any questions that I have. He has been very helpful in explaining all steps that I need to take, but more importantly, the logic behind those steps. Learning the principles behind the tasks I am doing has really helped me get a better understanding of shoe repair and creation on a broader spectrum. I have learned a lot from this mentor-ship so far including things like all of the different components of shoes, the steps needed to take during the design process to create durable shoes, how to take proper measurements of feet, the role of lasts in creating shoes and the importance of design. However, I have also learned a lot about myself from this mentor-ship. I have learned that I am good at taking initiative and working independently when needed. I think that I have developed better inquiry skills.

I think that so far my official mentor Ron has been a great help, however, I have also learned a lot from some unofficial mentors including everyone who works in the shop. I work there about four hours each week, so I have a lot of time to observe how they repair shoes and ask questions about the process. The people who work at the Quick Cobbler have been very helpful and kind. Louis in particular has really helped me adjust to the new job and has showed me all the tasks we have to do. They have all helped along my learning in different ways and have all been very patient with me, even when I made mistakes[1]. They have created a very welcoming learning environment for me and have made me feel like a part of the team.

Having such a good mentor and a community of well-informed people willing to teach me has been absolutely wonderful. I think that my persistence in finding a mentor has really paid off; the Quick Cobbler seems like a very good fit for me. Everyone is very encouraging of my curiosity and creativity. Everyone at the Quick Cobbler has really helped my learning along and has been supportive of my goals. I think that I am making good progress so far, but still need to adjust my goals. I set out to make at least two pairs of shoes, but after working on my first pair for only a few weeks I have realized the process is a lot more complicated than I had originally thought. My new goal is to make only one pair of shoes by the end of this project. I am very glad that I get to reflect in these blog posts and asses my progress so that I can adjust my goals. I have learned a lot in these past few weeks through my experience with my mentor and everyone at the shop. I am very excited for the rest of the project.

Shoe Update: I am in the late design stages. I have found the measurements of my feet for the shoes and lasts (molds) that fit my measurements. I have finalized my design after going back to the drawing board many times. I have decided to make a pair of oxfords with a monk strap. The next step I will take is actually cutting out all of my materials so that I can assemble. I am very excited with my progress and cannot wait to work on my shoes!

[1] I was cleaning out the air compressor by draining the dirty water, however when I went to turn of the nozzle, I increased the velocity of the mud shooting out of the air compressor instead. I got the mud about ten feet up into the air. Cleaning up was a big task, but I have learned from my mistakes.” Righty- tighty, Lefty-loosey” is a very important rhyme to remember.

Image locations for Image one, Image two,  Image three, and Image four.