Evil Russians in New Zealand

07 Jul 2021 16:12

Evil Russians who have won the sympathy of all the HMB community of New Zealand continue our marathon of representing participants in the Artisans and Craftsmen People’s Choice Award competition. Today we go to New Zealand and talk to the mysterious and “evil” founders of the workshop. Behind such a harsh name are the well-known faces of Anna Gubinskaya and Eduard Sadrutdinov from Wellington. Where does this name come from? According to Anna Gubinskaya, the title pays homage to the Stranger Things TV series, where teenagers tried to figure out how to recognize the “evil Russians” – “Tall. Blonde hair. Don’t smile.”

Now they are already well known among the HMB community in New Zealand. Anna and Eduard play a very important role in the development of HMB sports in the country, and the workshop is not a business, but something else:

In 2019, we moved to New Zealand and it turned out that the country desperately lacked craftsmen who can quickly sew a suit or make belts, shoes, a bag that will not only be stylized, but also repeat the design of a historical prototype.

We are not engaged in business, but we sew mainly for friends and acquaintances, so the most important thing is that the finished product pleases the owner, and it is great to say a year later that that person is wearing a suit we have made.

Reconstruction is a hobby for both of us, so we can only afford to do what we are interested in. Of course, the main motivation is to do it beautifully for yourself. It’s nice to come to the tournament and see people not in sneakers and jeans, but in historical costumes. It is impossible to force a person to wear what he does not like – therefore we try to make comfortable and beautiful things so that the owner himself would like to wear them again and again,” Anna Gubinskaya told us.


Anna does not undertake to remotely sew suits to order, because it is more convenient to be able to make fittings directly to the customer and be sure that the outfit fits perfectly on the body.

 Of course, in the process of work, Anna and Eduard communicate a lot with customers. As Anna told us, sometimes a person comes with a photo of a suit that  really liked the customer. And then the serious work begins:

We have to conduct a “fortune-telling” session – trying to understand what kind of costume is in the photo and what historical period it is from. Sometimes outright fantasy happens. Then we look for options for a similar historical analogue and gently but persistently turn a person “to the bright side”. We show pictures, we read books together. The fact that we are not a “workshop” as such and not a “business” is a huge plus – we can afford to spend ten hours of research and education for one pair of stockings.” 

Anna admitted that there is a separate problem with fabrics in the country. New Zealand produces natural wool of excellent quality, but most of it is exported, it is difficult to find anything in the country other than dark blue, red and black colors. There is very little linen on the market as well, and the one that is – is Belgian raw material, woven in China and is very expensive. Sometimes here natural silk is cheaper than natural linen. Sometimes you have to be cunning – take cotton imitation or mixed fabrics.

Given the solid approach to fulfilling orders, the craftsmen note that they are proud of each of their products. But still they have something to highlight…

“But there is a knight marshal’s houppelande, which took some astronomical amount of work. I really love fighting head-pieces – they are pleasant and easy to sew, and the result is bright and elegant products. And the funniest thing is to sew toys – we had a series of animal-marshals, and gave them all away as presents to our friends. ”


Anna tries to follow the work of her colleagues. As an example of a master who inspires her, she mentioned the work of Leon Bamford from Australia. And more recently, after meeting a craftswoman from St. Petersburg, Anna Gubinskaya was impressed by the work of her colleague from Russia.

“Once the head of our club, Justin Harris, asked me to sew him a costume of a marshal – there was no time to wait for an order from Russia. He sent the pattern from the marshal’s chat – so that the houppelande was the same as that of foreign marshals. Then I was imbued with endless respect for the work of Anna Muzalevskaya, who developed this pattern and sewed all the cotta for the marshals who worked at Battle of the Nations. Of course, when time began to allow, we ordered a uniform from Anna – unfortunately, just before the pandemic. It took 141 days to send a package from St. Petersburg, but now all the marshals of New Zealand look at the highest level. “

And these are not all people involved in the art of sewing, who inspire Anna and help to improve in creativity. According to her, a great role is played by the mutual exchange of experience with friends around the world.

I am very inspired by the work of Milica Kovacevic, the amazing seamstress, reenactor, friend and head of the HMBIA Authenticity Committee. We often send each other photos of work in progress, patterns, ideas for future costumes. And sometimes we just send customers to Russian craftsmen”.

For example, Evil Russians never sew gambesons (quilted under armor). This is the basis of the fighter’s kit, only based on the measurements taken on top of it – you can order a well-fitting armor that does not hinder movement. So this piece of equipment must fit perfectly, be durable, comfortable and lightweight. Anna and Eduard have no experience in sewing such items. If necessary, they advise customers to take a closer look at the work of other craftsmen who have experience in sewing the right gambesons.

This is responsible and honest work. We would like to thank the charming and kind Evil Russians Anna and Eduard for the interview, wish them inspiration and prosperity, and hope that soon there will be a series of toy animals dedicated to the HMBIA News editors.

In the meantime, we are preparing a new article for you about another nominees of the Artisans and Craftsmen People’s Choice Award competition, and we invite you to remember those wonderful crafters who we have already talked about earlier:

Henrikas Viteika workshop from the UK
Workshop of Anna Muzalevskaya from Russia
Historicum workshop from Poland
Past Time Pedlar workshop from the UK
Ivan Lukic, craftsman from Serbia
Patterson Shieldcraft from the UK
Racaire’s Workshop from the USA
Knight Art Workshop from France
Rogday’s Craft” Yar-Tur workshop from Ukraine
Výroba štítů Workshop from Czech Republic. 


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