At the end of last week I arranged with Estelle and Bethan a second visit to the Heritage Centre to look at anything they had relating to the cultivation of teasels in Somerset. Teasels were grown specifically for the woollen industry and Somerset was, historically, a major producer. The collection was small but intriguingly personal.
Interestingly the seed heads were longer than any I had seen in the wild and more uniform in size. The difference I guess is cultivation, and longer seed heads would be better fit for purpose.
The little knives would fit in the palm of a hand and were for cutting the stems.
One extremely battered and well used leather glove, the only evidence of protection against the spiky teasels.
This dibber and splitter were lovely, rustic, hand made tools. It made me think about how people would have used what was available and immediately to hand. I imagine someone found a suitable branch, cut it down and then went to the blacksmith for the metal work. A far cry from a trip to Wicks or B&Q!
I couldn’t wait to start playing and experimenting with all the materials and I have been busy trying out ideas. I am attempting to find some interesting formula for creating a variety of cog-like objects. I like the idea of softly stuffed fabric shapes representing hard metal machinery. It also links the notion of sand bags used in the trenches and the waste sacks at WSP. In fact the filling is the waste! I am very keen to use my fullers earth clay and have found that drying it out before breaking it up and sieving gives me a reasonably good powdery substance. This that can then be mixed with water and used as paint or sprinkled and rubbed into the fabric. The dark wet clay dries to a interesting blue grey that looks beautiful on the felt.