I've been taking notes as to why I love straight shaving, and I told myself I'd post them after a year. It's now been a year and a month or so, so here goes (please note that these are just thoughts in passing typed into my ipod touch as they struck me, not edited for readability). I know you guys get the same appreciation I do from the hobby, so here's to straights:
Why I like straight shaving...yeah, it's fun, but what makes it fun?
Being a scientific kind of guy, I like that the whole shebang combines
macroscopic and nanoscopic. You got your large things, like the spine
and size of the blade and how they strongly affect how the hyper-sharp
edge performs, to the very small...take soap for instance...all those tiny bubbles making a lather.
working with very old stuff, but it works as well as the day it was
made. Strong connection to the past.
brush/lather smells good
it's different than others
it's off the grid...once the capital is spent, no expense items beyond shave cream/soap and some aftershave.
it's elegant..total of 3 large pieces, 2 pins, 6 washers, and typically a wedge piece. Kamisori's are just a hunk of metal and some wrapping for the handle. Those few pieces can shave you for a lifetime.
As a hobby,
it's something I can build myself in short enough time to keep my attention and see it to the end, but take long enough that it's not over with too soon.
I can use it (unlike stamp collecting or coin collecting...using those destroys the collection.)
I can hand it down.
I can give it away and it won't cost me too much.
Good for environment.
requires a skill set that isn't instantly accessible...I like working at things to get to an end, rather than just making it too easy.
Element of danger to it.
It *takes* time.
It performs just as well as my old disposables, and certainly better in the future as I continue to learn.
It's a tool that I maintain. I am the one responsible for it, I cannot blame anyone else if it doesn't work right. At the same time, if it does work right, I can know that it is a culmination of my own abilities and I can be satisfied on a job well done.
Same idea with the lathering. Was talking to someone at work the other day and they asked if I even use a brush/soap for the lather (as if that was one step beyond using a straight!) . I explained that yes I do, and I like it because it is custom made by me for me at the time I want it. Stuff out of a can may work fine, but that just means that everyone who buys that product throughout the planet gets the same stuff as everyone else. Doing it myself makes me feel pampered and special in a way.
All blades are different. Getting to know how they are different is part of the hobby. Not just 3/8 vs 8/8, not just full hollow vs wedge, but jimps up vs down vs both, humpback tang vs straight vs thumbnotch, stub tail vs longtail.
What other hobby is there where any material you'd like is used? Rocks...yup hones DIY. Metal...yup. Bone, horn , ivory, wood, paper, plastic, cloth, epoxy, pinecones, whatever for scales.
It's like a sonnet: there is an obvious structure you have to work within, but it's the creativity that makes the difference.
Explore nature...try lots of different woods from around the neighborhood or around the world. Just walk down the street and grab someone's tree rubbish and make some scales.
Great conversation topic.
Fun to anticipate the hunt when going antiquing. Good talking with shop keepers about stuff.
Though not straight-related, nor wetshaving specifically, because of wetshaving I found Master's giant bottle of Bay Rum for 8 bucks or whatever. I now have my youngest daughter asking if I put on "bum ray" today while she checks my cheek smoothness. That will always be something we will share.
Tracking down the stamps of various barbers supply stores from states you've lived in.
I've learned about myself than I would have ever thought. Sure, I started with a DE, and through that learned, after shaving for the past 2 decades, that my whisker grain is not what I thought it was. Straight shaving goes further than the physical knowledge of myself...I have learned additional patience, self-control, dexterity, additional courage, etc. Furthermore I have learned more generosity; my brain seems to ignore self-gain and instead more "you gotta try this". That attitude is often seen here on b&b and other forums...makes me strive to "out-gentleman" (in the olde tyme stereotype sense) others, which can only lead to a better community.
Each "thing" in this world is different, and it is the difference that makes it special.
Being "scared" or "afraid" of dangerous things is healthy. Having the respect for them, and treating them with caution and care helps to overcome fear.
It is Good to have things in our lives that have no buttons or batteries.