WORKSHOP: Make your own biodegradable bast shoes

Lapti 5bea33efb26e4d9bfa9d679218e5af80
second pic via

:arrow_right: Let’s set a trend during OSCEdays 2018! :smiley:
Go to the comment section to see the workshop documentation.

Who are we / Wer sind wir?

Pauline and Julia, fashion design students at HTW Berlin (University for Applied Sciences). We have been inspired by traditional and ancient garment- and shoemaking aesthetics and techniques using natural, non-toxic, biodegradable materials for a while now. Bast and bark shoes embody all these elements representatively.

What will we do / Was werden wir machen?

We will run TWO WORKSHOPS on Sat, June 16th (each max. 60 min) that show you how to make your own bast shoes/Lapti (similar to the ones above, but our own/ fast version).

Mainly however, over the course of that same day, we are going to explore (shoe-)making using bast and similar materials. We are happy if you come by and experiment. If you have, you should bring your own materials, otherwise we will provide them until our supplies are exhausted.

Time, Place & Supplies / Zeit, Ort und Ausstattung

WHERE | Infralab WS2

  1. List item

BOOTH │ Sat, June 16th, 11am - 5pm

WORKSHOPS │ Sat, June 16th, 12pm + 4pm à 60min

Address: EUREF-Campus, 10829 Berlin

Space: ca. 5 m^2,


  • 1-2 low tables covering up to 4 m^2,
  • bast and natural weaving materials if anyone has any surplus
  • extra scissors if anyone can lend any

Contact / Kontakt

Text or drop me a line below here if you have any questions.

Open Resources / Offenes Wissen


Lapti are the traditional bast shoes of the Russian peasants. The word lapti apparently originated from the word “lapa”, which meant “foot” in old times, and now means paw. Until the beginning of the 20th century lapti were worn in every Russian village, but nowadays one can hardly find anyone wearing them save for the special occasions, like celebrations or costume shows (…)”. Continue reading:
(DE) info:

(DE) “Aus Seegras wurden einst, besonders in Notzeiten, Schuhe hergestellt. (…) durch die geschickte Verwendung meist einfacher Werkzeuge Geräte und Gegenstände des Alltags entstanden. Dafür waren – und sind – neben körperlicher Kraft oft Geduld, eine ruhige Hand und ein scharfes Auge nötig.”
Lies weiter:,-seegrasschuhe-entstanden-einst-in-notzeiten-_arid,10083426.html


“Bast” by Vladimir Yaris


Seagrass shoes:

Lapti: (Lapti channel) and


Moderation remark: topic slightly edited for formatting and to add date and time

To the session provider


Here is your briefing with info about tickets and your contribution to the Circular Berlin exhibition. Pls. check. And get in touch with questions of any kind.

1 Like

Hallo, I’m interested in joining the workshop, should I send you email?

You are now registered! :slight_smile: When do you want to join, at 12pm or at 4pm?


Saturday was the perfect weather for an outdoor workshop. Some participants for the first session arrived shortly after 12.
We started off by talking about our experience with the material we were going to use - seagrass, how it’s among the materials that are the easiest to get for weaving in Germany at the moment (online delivery and shipping) and the easiest to re-order. Although you can collect seagrass locally (both the seagrass growing underwater and the German term for Seegras which is long grass growing in the woods), the seagrass cord available from our go-to websites and is from China. A takeaway from this is that the options we have for working with raw materials and conserving our local crafts will diminish if we don’t maintain them.

Our first idea was to make original Russian birch bark Lapti. For that however the bark needs to be harvested in a special way to make it suitable for weaving: in an ongoing loop in order to get long strands (1m+) instead of squares. These strands are therefore not available in Germany (please comment if you know otherwise). For the strands up to ca. 50cm, visit These will serve as raw material if you were to make smaller objects. You find numerous tutorials to guide you if you were to make original Lapti, among them the ones listed above.
The point is to use long, 1m+ strands that are 1-2cm wide. We experimented with bamboo strands by but figured that using the slim bast strands they offer would result in a much longer workshop than intended so we decided on doing seagrass shoes instead.

SEAGRASS SHOES step by step
Inspired by the first item on our video tutorial list, we decided on making seagrass shoes that are built through modeling and sewing a plait made of seagrass strands around your own foot.

  • seagrass or other strands or a ready made plait i.e. this
  • thick compostable thread, i.e. the thinnest of these depicted
  • thick long needle, i.e. this
  • scissors
    And some time on your hands.
  1. Make braids out of five 3m long strands each.
    These will equal plaits of ca. 2,5m in length. For a size up to EU39 shoe you will need 4 of these plaits per pair. For up to size EU41, 5 per pair. For 42 around 6 per pair. For bigger you’ll need to experiment.
    If you braid them yourself, you’ll need around 30min to finish one braid (they are long and need to be braided tightly).

  2. Start forming a snail shell shape out of the braid first, as depicted. To secure it tightly in the beginning, grip very tightly and sew into it a few times.

  3. Continue until the shape becomes nice and apparent but not broader than your foot.

  4. Once there, move and model the braid around your heel on the height of the foot you want the shoe to be. Secure this desired shape on the snail again by sewing it on.

  5. Now continue to model the braid around your foot and secure it by making a stitch every 0,5-1cm. The trick is to always hold the braid in the way you want it to go around your foot while sewing.

  6. Once the top part is ready, you make the sole in just the same way you did the rest. Now the snail will be built from the outside towards the inside. Make sure to try on the shoe all the time to know how wide it has to be etc. Once you are trying to fix the inner end of the snail, you’ll need a bit of finesse. You’ll have to reach inside the shoe and secure the end many times while trying to avoid frays from the outside of the shoe (those would shorten its lifespan).

  7. You can finish off the shoe by sewing on a sole from the outside and/ or sewing in a lining from the inside. These make it more durable and comfortable. That’s what the old lady in the video did anyway!

All in all making these takes roughly a day (12 hours including 2 hrs braiding).
However the process has its benefits: It is a form of meditation, enhancing your focus, the development of a hang for shoemaking and crafts, reconnecting you to nature and its materials, inspiring you to make biodegradable and/ or circular and/ or modular things and so on.

I am thinking about making boots next. What are you up to?
Have fun designing!