This whole In-Depth project has been such a great learning experience. I have learned not just from my own project, but from everyone’s projects—which are all so diverse. I have also had many new learning opportunities that have exposed me to new learning. Opportunities provided to me by my very trying and patient mentor Ron, who agreed to guide and help me when no one else would. Ron has
exposed me to the shoe making and repair environment, through the little tasks he asks me to do (like stretching the shoes or gluing and sanding heels) I learn more about the different parts of the shoe, and shoe maintenance. Learning the ins and outs of shoes is really helpful as I create my own pair because I can see what works with shoes and what doesn’t. It has also really helped to keep in mind practicality while designing. This problem-solving type of learning has really pushed me in the right direction and exposed me to this new environment in ways I wouldn’t have expected. To re-inforce the new learning that I do, I often read about the procedures I have completed (from Ron’s vast library) as well as ask Ron or other cobblers around about more efficient ways of doing these procedures. Reading and talking about some of the jobs that I do around helps cement what I have learned, and improve for the next time I have to do the task. I really have improved through these methods, when I first started to do my basic maintenance jobs, they took me over two hours to complete, and now they take me about one hour to finish, with even more precision now. To accelerate my learning, I have the opportunity to work in the shop more
frequently, like I did over the break. I also have the opportunity to read about procedures before performing them to prepare and to practice my sewing at home on scrap leather before sewing my shoes (I sewed my inner lining and I found out that I am sewing is not my strong suit). Volunteering to work with machines I will need to use to make my shoes in the future has also accelerated my learning because I improve at using them, so when it comes time to make my shoes, I will do a better job. Ron has made an effort to find openings for me to get acquainted with some of the more heavy-duty machinery. Our mentoring relationship is still going very well and I think that our learning and teaching styles fit very well together. When we are together, we talk about shoes and my project, work in the shop, what we did over the week, other plans for the weekend, and our families. We are learning quite a bit about each other including things like our personal interests (especially music since we play it while we work), our vacation plans, and more about our family histories. Ron’s son works in the shop, so I hear many interesting stories about Tom as a child. I really like having that personal connection with my mentor, it makes it much easier to effectively communicate and makes the process smoother.
On my shoes, I have finished the forming and cutting the soles, cutting and sewing my inner liner, and cutting out my uppers along with the spare parts. It was a lot of work over these past few weeks, but my shoes are really coming together. Though the process is moving along relatively fast, I am still scared that I might not finish in time. Shoe-making is a long process and I know that lasting the shoes will take me a long time. I will definitely finish making my shoes by the end of the year, but I don’t know if I will finish in time for In-depth night in May. However, I am really happy with the progress that I am making and understand that there is only so much I can do to finish in time. Either way, I am learning a lot that I can put to use in other projects later on in life.
I am very grateful that we had to do these blog posts asking certain questions of us. I wouldn’t have reflected and tried to improve upon my project had I not done these blogs. I definitely wouldn’t have focused so much on my relationship with my mentor if not for these posts, but I am so glad that I did. When we started these blog posts, I was anything but excited, but now I think I will miss doing them for the next four weeks. Though, I will have to admit I am a bit relieved I don’t have to worry about these posts anymore. I think that I got myself on the right track with the first few posts and that I will hopefully continue on this path and continue to reflect upon and adjust my project accordingly.