Recently I made another pair of medieval shoes. Although they are made as a part of a Bulgarian outfit reconstruction, they are not strictly Bulgarian. In fact, this is one of the most popular shoe models throughout Europe during the 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries. It’s pretty simple and comfortable. It covers the front of the foot, encompasses the heel and fastens around the ankle, which makes it very comfortable and hard to slip.
As you can see, this pair of medieval shoes fits pretty tight. That was a requirement for those shoes, because the owner’s previous medieval shoes were too loose and slippery, which makes walking on wet grass a lot harder and more dangerous.
In any case, there are many depictions of such shoes in western Europe. They can even be seen in murals and wall-paintings from the Balkans.
(Serbia 14th century) To see the whole gallery, click the image.
A German gentleman from Frankfurt am Main -1370
The actual shoes are made of 2mm thick upper layer, and 2 soles made of 5-6mm thick calf leather. So, they are a bit sturdier than regular medieval turnshoes, which makes them suitable for various weather conditions and terrains.
I’m proud of the end results. This type of upper leather is very easy to work with, and I’m not surprised that they turned out great.
The original 🙂
This is a pair of western European medieval boots from the 14th century found during excavations in London. Making these shoes was a joint effort. I made the design, then Sergei from “Chigot” sew them. I did the finishing work of flipping them inside out, and adding the external sole. They are made with double soles for extra comfort and durability. This means that they are not ordinary turn shoes but rather a later type called clump-sole shoes. You can check out the Gallery here 🙂
14th century depiction of a pair of side-laced medieval boots
I’m pretty proud of the results. They look pretty close to the original London side-laced medieval boots. Sergei did a nice job on them and it wasn’t easy because of the nature of the project. The owner – Vladimir of Chigot, wanted a pair of sturdy combat boots, so he insisted on using tough leather and reinforcements on the weak spots. That’s why the heel is made of 2,5 – 3mm thick calf leather and the rest of the upper is 2-2,5mm also calf leather. The actual leather is very durable and stiff, so sewing it under the skin was nearly impossible. That is the reason why they have these coarse “X” stitches. It’s not a matter of decoration or anything. It’s just that the leather can’t be sewn with hidden underlayer stitches.
In any case, they turned out pretty comfortable and good-looking. Here is a picture of the proud owner and his new medieval boots:
Proud owner bashing palisades 😀
As a tailor and shoemaker, I can’t deal with wood. So, I asked a friend for a barter – a small table with a bench, for a favor of his choosing. In the end, I had a brand new medieval table and a cute little bench. In return, I promised to make him a sturdy arming doublet for his 15th century hussite costume. You will see it soon enough! 😉
Meanwhile, I sealed the wooden medieval furniture against water damage, and even got to use them at a couple of camps. Here are some pictures:
- My medieval furniture in action
- a simple but sturdy bench
- Sibiu, Romania 2014
- Makes a good table for expositions 🙂
- This is after I sealed the wood against water
- the bench is pretty good-looking
These pieces of medieval furniture are made by Yasen Nenkov, from “Chigot”, so, if you need a reliable carpenter or tent-maker that won’t rip you off with the money, then I recommend you contact him. You can reach the craftsmen of “Chigot” here
Today I will present to you a pair of very beautiful 14th century carved shoes. The shoe model is based on extant originals and the decorations are based on depictions and originals. They are carved in a grid of squares of about 1 cm, with several wider lines carved across the front of the shoe. As you can see from the pictures, they turned out great, and I’m happy with my work. This type of leather is excellent for carving. Also, it’s very flexible and thick, so the shoe’s integrity is not compromised in any way. The carving is pretty simple, all you need is the right tools and the time to prepare the leather. I did half the work on this pair in Grunwald, Poland, that’s why the pictures took so long to share. Anyway, enjoy! ^_^
Vasil the leather carver 😛
Last week, I made a pair of sturdy fantasy boots for Live-Action-Role-Play. The owner wanted them to be as sturdy and durable as possible, so this is what I did:
- I used 2 layers of thick leather for the soles. Each sole is about 5-6 mm thick, so every shoe has a 12 mm sole.
- They were supposed to be nailed with hobnails, but it turned out too expensive and time-consuming, so we left that out for later. Keep in mind that medieval shoes rarely have hobnails, so that’s not an accurate reconstruction; however, the design is based on medieval shoes.
- For the upper pieces, I used thick cow leather about 2mm, and for the heel – 3mm. Sadly, this type of leather is very hard to sew with hidden stitches, so I had to use visible X-stitches. I don’t like that much, but It’s not up to me. It depends on the leather quality.
- The shoes are sewn inside-out, and turned after that. The second sole is then added, and the upper pieces are sewn to the shoe.
- Lastly, I added the strings. They are designed so that the boots can be worn closed neatly around the calf, which is great for cold and wet weather conditions. They can also be worn with open tongues so that the foot can breathe when it’s hot.
The design is based on a pair of medieval shoes. Sadly, the stitches are not very common for medieval shoes. Regardless of that, however, the fantasy boots turned out very good, and I’m extremely proud of my work. Enjoy:
we just got back from Grunwald, Poland, a couple of days ago, and it was amazing! The festival lasted for several days and was perfectly
The medieval dudes from the Balkans
organized. The participants were divided into camps based on their origins and reconstructions. So, there were several camps all of which had their own guards and fences. The camp site was full of entertainment too. There were tournaments and games all the time. The medieval market was supreme and full of interesting things to see and buy. Also, the people were amazing.
We sent only two people from Varna, Bulgaria, but picked up our Serbian friends on the way -“The Golden Keg” company. So, we had a small company of medieval Balkan people.
I can’t really begin to explain and describe what the experience was because it was overwhelming, but lets say it like this – you get a nice camp and enough straw to live comfortably for days; you get to cook your own medieval food or get it from the camp’s tavern; you can participate in every event if you have the necessary inventory; also you can go out shopping. Lastly, you can get drunk and party with so many people that you can’t even remember where you have been and where you haven’t.
“Grunwald is more of a family event. People come here to meet their friends. I can just go around and talk to my friends and never have enough time for all of them.”
This is what one of the participants told me about the festival. I did not believe it at first, but after several days I met some great people and had a lot of fun. Visiting Grunwald was amazing for me. I made a lot of friends and had a great time. I also managed to make some nice photos and videos of some of the fights. So, enjoy!
Vasil Vasilev – “fireshow guy” 😛
There are several very beautiful medieval shoes found in Haarlem which is a neighborhood in Amsterdam, Netherlands. This pair is dated 1300-1350 and has some very nice and unique decorations. I’ve wanted to do a reconstruction of that find for a long time now. So far, I have seen only one reconstruction of the bird shoe, so I have the pleasure of presenting to you possibly the world’s second reconstruction of the bird shoe from Haarlem. Here is the original:
As you can see, these medieval shoes have an amazing design which I tried to replicate. Here is what I managed to do:
The reconstruction is not done at full scale due to the characteristics of the material that I had to use. However, I am very pleased with the results, and I think the owner will be happy with his new medieval shoes.
Last year, a friend of mine from Serbia asked to make a pair of good-looking women’s shoes. The shoes had to be suitable for a reconstruction of a noble lady’s costume from 14th century Serbia.
It was a difficult task to find good examples of decorated footwear on the Balkans. However, I did manage to find a lot of images of colored, embroidered and decorated shoes in various wall paintings. So, based on some of the colors and decorations of the shoes in the murals, and archaeological finds of similar shoes in western Europe, I came up with this reconstruction.
The shoes are made of thin leather upper part, covered with raw silk and decorated with cotton embroidery. The buttons are made of mountain crystal. I have also added a protective strip of leather between the silk upper part and the thick leather sole. I have seen plenty of late medieval archaeological finds, where shoes have such strips. This is what they look like.
I am proud of my work. It was especially hard to turn them inside-out because of the shape of the sole, but it was worth the efforts. Here is where I have got some of my inspiration from.
Cheers for the lucky lady, and best regards!
Last summer, I visited the town of Nafplio in southern Greece. During the early middle ages, the town was a small port. However, the town was captured during the fourth crusade by the naval forces of Naples and Venice. The crusade itself ended with the capture of Constantinople, so the Italians remained there a while longer. It was owned by the Aragonese, then by the republic of Venice, and lastly, by the Ottomans.
The city has three fortresses nowadays. One castle in the gulf of the sea. One on top of the hill overlooking the town, and one in town. Most of these keeps are built after the middle ages.
The Burg or the Bourtzi(it means”tower”) is the name of a small fortified castle in the middle of the gulf. It’s situated on a small island, and was built by the Venetians in 1473. After that, it was held by the Ottomans. The Greeks regained it in the 19th century. The fortress is fully preserved and very romantic.
The Castle of Palamidi
Overlooking the gulf is a high hill with a masterful castle on top of it. It was built by the Venetians somewhere between 1711 and 1714. That was during the time of their second occupation of the town. It was a large project that was finished very quickly. The fortress is incredibly well-protected on all sides. It’s surrounded by steep hills on all sides. Getting there requires climbing over a thousand steps which can be hard to do when you’re being shot at from the top. Probably that’s the reason why it’s still standing. The fortress was built to house cannons and artillery, so it’s a bit different from most medieval structures. There is also a smaller fortress in the foot of the hill under Palamidi. It was made to defend the entrance to Palamidi.
Map of Nafplio from 1597.
Well, the place is great for reenactments. The only problem is the castles were built a bit later than the medieval period. Otherwise, there are nice beaches surrounding the castles, great views, and friendly taverns. Also, the songs and sounds of the cicada insects can be pretty romantic. Nafplio is a great place, visit it if you can.
Vasil the Wanderer
This winter, Chigot received an order from the local museum of Pernik for a couple of full outfits. The outfits included two fully armed legionnaires from the second and the forth century. As a member of Chigot, I was asked to make some roman footwear and clothing. The shoes were the biggest challenge because roman footwear is a bit more complicated than medieval footwear. All roman caligae and calcei have very thick soles with hobnails. Until last month, I had never worked with hobnails. It wasn’t too hard, though. As you can see, the shoes turned out great, and I’m pretty proud of myself.
Both pairs of shoes are made with a double sole. They have two layers of leather over a centimeter thick. The soles are glued, sewn, and nailed together with hobnails. These are by far the sturdiest soles I’ve made. Enjoy.