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Before the waxed strings, shoemakers used pitch to make the thread they were using to sew shoe soles more compact, waterproof and less likely to wearout.

This material would protect the string from water and mud, so it would’nt rot.
Pitch is resin amber color, extracted from plants called Pinacae.
Some of the main characteristics are:   

-          glue;

-          insulation;

-          waterproof;

How was it used:

Pitch in flakes was heated in an old pot, letting it become liquid.
Then it was ready to be passed over the string and would become “pitched”.
Some sewing machines, like the black ob 5, it had a sort of heater in which the string would go through and be pitched.
During this passage, the string had time to cool off and to become solid, reaching the needle ready to be used.
In the past the pitch was used to repair ships because of its waterproof.
Even food products that were transported by ship, especially liquids that were transported by anphoras. The inner surface waterproofed with pitch.

Also today this material is being used in various fields.
Example, dancers use it a lot:
They crush the pitch, making it become white powder, rub the point of their ballet shoes to avoid slipping and to have more resistance to the floor.
Pitch is also used in the musical field:
Who plays string instruments, distributes pitch all over the strings, so the vibration is better.

Pece a scaglie