This is the first of a number of reviews on armourers, weaponsmiths, leatherworkers and others that will do a great deal to help you get kit to the standard the SCA (in my not-so-humble opinion) should be. This is written with an eye to durability, ease of manufacture, speed of delivery, practical application, cost,
attractiveness, fine workmanship and general customer satisfaction. Each item will be judged on a 1 (very dissatisfied) to 5 (very satisfied) rating.
Alastairís Footwear: (POC: Andy Guy) reviewed 2/14/00
Alastairís Footwear specializes in medieval shoes and boot based on Shoes and Pattens, a study of footwear and other items dug up along the banks of the Thames.
Unlike most persons in living history groups (who make their footwear "turnshoe" Style), Andy uses nails for his work, making a more durable shoe that will pass the ten-foot test in most cases. His main body of work is based on a variety of shoes and boots up to the 15th century, but thatís not all he can do. They come in Black, Brown and Indian Tan (which turns to a lovely oxblood color when you add oil).
My wife and I both ordered items from him. Audelinde has the Buckled High Ankle Shoe (Black, based of a 12th Ė12th century example $70.00 plus s/h) and I own the Laced High Ankle Shoe (Indian Tan, with rubber sole - $20.00 extra, plus shipping). Audelinde finds that while the upper chafed a bit before she broke the boots in, they are comfortable and durable, and a pleasure to drive in. Some may find that athletic insoles may be necessary for personal comfort. The two buckled straps on the ankle provides a nice bit of ankle support, and the soles are made of sturdy 12-13 ounce sole leather.
Audelinde comments that her Buckled High Ankle shoes are a joy to drive in, and the leather soles allow for a great deal of control on the clutch and gas pedal. She says that the true test will be when she wears them to Pennsic. Weíll see how they work out there.
I have the Laced High Ankle Shoes with rubber soles, with SCA combat in mind. I took them out during the winter, with six inches of snow on the ground. The Biltrite Workboot soles (with heels included) are made of hard rubber with treads that wear like iron, and has moderately good traction. Theyíre treated so as not to make black heel marks on floors. This is a good thing, as the people who run our winter fighting site get a little cranky with damage to their hardwood floors.
The Laced High Ankle style is slit at intervals along the ankles to permit a wide leather thong to tighten the ankle, much in the way the straps do on the Buckled High Ankle model. While the thongs donít allow for really good ankle support, thatís easily remedied by replacing the thongs with a pair of straps per boot. Working a little saddle-soap and neatsfoot oil into the boots helps to break them in immensely. In combat, they are better traction-wise than my old turnshoes!
My lady and I arenít the only ones who wear Alastairís work. Alban Marshal has a pair of the Laced High Ankle Shoes, (in Black) that look really good with his chausses and braies. He intends to purchase a pair of the same shoes with rubber soles for fighting. Krystoff van der Ghent wears a pair of his Latchet Shoes (Brown, $60.00, plus s/h), and is very happy with the workmanship.
If you wish to judge for yourself, you may contact the cobbler thusly:
Alastairís Footwear (Andy Guy)
1012North Reserve Street
Muncie, IN 47303 (USA)
(765) 289-5905 E-mail: email@example.com
EASE OF MANUFACTURE: 5
SPEED OF DELIVERY: 5
PRACTICAL APPLICATION: 4
FINE WORKMANSHIP: 4
GENERAL CUSTOMER SATISFACTION: 5
1. (very dissatisfied)
2. (somewhat dissatisfied)
3. (neither satisfied nor dissatisfied)
4. (mostly satisfied)
5. (very satisfied)