Russian Valenki and The New Life of Wool Felt
I believe that everyone knows what valenki are. Still, some foreigners seriously imagine Russia as constantly being snowy and cold; bears on the streets and drunk Russians wearing valenki and fur hats. Well, I have to say that it's not exactly so.
There is no more snow here than any American living near Canadian border sees. The cold is not so freezing, especially during summer time (I still cannot forget the awful summer when we had in Moscow about 35-40 C or 95-105 F for a couple of months).
The bears - I have only seen them in the zoo. And valenki…. Actually this is the real thing we have in our life till today.
The name of valenki comes from Russian word for “felt” or “felting”. This is the material from which valenki are made of. You can see a lot of valenki on different fairs along with other traditional Russian clothes or souvenirs. But valenki are not only souvenirs for tourists. You can still wear them in cold regions of Russia: of course not in a city, but in small villages, mostly among old people.
Valenki are really very helpful when it cold and snowy. Nevertheless, adults do not want to use them anymore, because they look too funny and not elegant, but they sometimes buy valenki for small children. They can be not just black, but of different colours and with a lot of nice ornaments.
But the real subject of my post is not exactly valenki. Today, some craftsmen make really wonderful things from wood felt. Not only valenki, but beautiful clothes you can hardly imagine. Here I add some photos of a jacket that my mom just bought. It is also made from felt. In our family we all were very much impressed by the quality and the original ideas which the artist used.
If you want to buy something more than just a souvenir to put on your book shelves, but something authentic Russian and at the same time very modern and just beautiful, take a note about the stuff made of wool felt.
I hope to visit at the nearest time one exhibition which takes place in Moscow from time to time, where lots of craftsmen offer their unique things.
I will put some photos here as soon as I visit it. But of course there are a plenty of such places in Moscow. Unfortunately not of them offer something really good and by reasonable prices…. So be careful while buying something and try to visit several places to compare. By the way, my mom bought that jacket in a small shop at VDNKh.