DIY fulling?

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PrincessOracle
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DIY fulling?

Postby PrincessOracle » Mon Dec 31, 2007 2:22 pm

Hi there,

I'm delurking to ask the textile geeks for advice on early techniques for treating woven wool for warmth and water resistance. I'm eventually planning to make a semicircular or rectangular cloak, but would first like to apply fulling and teaseling to a basic wool tunic and trousers with the aim of wearing them as warm, weather-resistant layers on walking holidays.

It's something of an experiment. I suspect that the garments of our hardworking "primitive" ancestors will stand me in better stead on a trek along the Cornwall coast in March than an £80 fleece from Kathmandu. Although I would like the final result to be as authentic as is practicable, this project is to satisfy personal curiosity rather than strict living history criteria, so I don't have a brutally specific time period in mind -- let's say late Dark Ages to early medieval.

Online sources disagree about how to recreate the effect of pre-industrial fulling. Can anyone point me to reliable instructions, either online or in print, for fulling woven wool at home, preferably some that don't require stale urine? (Shared house, new bathtub.)

Also, I've read that after fulling, fabrics could be teaseled or brushed, then sheared, to raise the nap and obscure the weave. Any suggestions for how to do this? Wire cat brush and hair clippers, maybe?

Your suggestions and experiences most gratefully appreciated.



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Brother Ranulf
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Postby Brother Ranulf » Mon Dec 31, 2007 2:32 pm

Urban Tigner Holmes writes of the work of the fuller in 12th century England:

"His treatment with fuller's earth (hydrous silicate of alumina) gave body to the wool and helped it take the dye. This also was a cleaning mixture when diluted with hot water; or perhaps the ammonia of urine. The fuller placed the cloth into a trough with his mixture and then walked it with his feet, hence Walker and Fuller denote the same trade in England..."


Brother Ranulf

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sally
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Postby sally » Mon Dec 31, 2007 2:51 pm

Assuming you want to avoid the modern method of chucking it in the washing machine, best best is probably to drop it into the bath with a degreaser and trample it for a while.



PrincessOracle
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Postby PrincessOracle » Wed Jan 02, 2008 11:57 pm

After a little more research, I'm going to use the low-tech and fun bathtub-and-bare-feet approach, after a few trial runs with some old wool garments I have lying around the house. I hesitate to use fuller's earth, partly because there doesn't seem to be one definition of exactly what it is and partly because my setup doesn't really allow me to play around with clay and mud indoors.

Thanks for the advice!



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Brother Ranulf
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Postby Brother Ranulf » Thu Jan 03, 2008 8:30 am

"Fuller's Earth: an absorbent clay used in the fulling process" (how's that for a definition!). You are right in thinking that its exact content varies slightly depending on its place of origin, but the definition is constant despite that.

For a full overview of English Fuller's Earth, see the British Geological Survey report at

http://www.mineralsuk.com/britmin/mpffullers.pdf

It will be interesting to see what results you get without using it - I suspect that wet feet and wet wool may be the only outcome!


Brother Ranulf



"Patres nostri et nos hanc insulam in brevi edomuimus in brevi nostris subdidimus legibus, nostris obsequiis mancipavimus" - Walter Espec 1138

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davetmoneyer
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Postby davetmoneyer » Thu Jan 03, 2008 11:28 am

Hi fullers earth is also used as a filter medium in the breweries and is also makes up 96% of the bulk of Dynanite ( which I pointed out to the Whitbread Brewery (Tiverton) safety rep :twisted: :twisted: who then proceeded to run around like a headless chicken for several days :roll: :roll: :wink: until we told him it was the stableizer not the explosive part!!


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PrincessOracle
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Postby PrincessOracle » Thu Jan 03, 2008 1:26 pm

What I meant was that, based on my 20 minutes of extensive, in-depth internet research, I found that many different clays and earths had been used at one time or another in the fulling process -- the term "fullers' earth" didn't always denote a single universally recognized substance, as (e.g.) "baking soda" does now. I see from the fact sheet, though, that the definition has been standardized somewhat in recent years.

However, the main argument against using any kind of clay in my home fulling experiments is that my landlords/housemates very selfishly consulted B&Q design brochures rather than my needs as a textile amateur when redoing our bathroom, with the result that it is now a shiny, sparkly place where I hesitate to splash large quantities of mud around, including drain-clogging bentonite.

I will have to soldier ahead with only heat, agitation and soap. I might try using fuller's earth in smaller scale, kitchen-sink-sized experiments. Or when making home dynamite. :twisted:



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Postby Theotherone » Sat Jan 05, 2008 12:15 am

Stupid question (probably), but is the fuller's earth mentioned the same as the stuff you get in some cat litters?


Because there would have to be three of them.

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Brother Ranulf
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Postby Brother Ranulf » Sat Jan 05, 2008 8:24 am

That's a yes - it's also in many cosmetics, pills and even some sweets (makes you think!!). :?


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"Patres nostri et nos hanc insulam in brevi edomuimus in brevi nostris subdidimus legibus, nostris obsequiis mancipavimus" - Walter Espec 1138

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Postby m300572 » Sat Jan 05, 2008 10:15 am

and a major constituent in NBC warfare kits - used as a decontaminant as it soaks up the nasties.

Princess, has your shared house got a garden - if so you coulod invest in a half barrel from a garden centre and use it for the trampling process in the fresh air. Might also be worth consulting some of the West Highland Folk museums as "waulking" cloth went on into historically fairly recent times - I recall a painting of women waulking cloth, the method appears to have been to bundle it up and bang it back and forward between two people across a table (to the accompaniement of an appropriate "waulking song" nae doot.


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Lindsay
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Postby Lindsay » Sat Jan 05, 2008 12:02 pm



Historians did it in the past.

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The breakaway Society for the Appreciation of Guthrie.

PrincessOracle
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Postby PrincessOracle » Sat Jan 05, 2008 2:20 pm

The refrain often has no or few recognizable words among rhythmic nonsense syllables called vocables.


Medieval scatting!

I don't have enough geek friends to hold a waulking party, but fortunately I do have a large garden. The half-barrel idea is a good one, and I may try it when the weather warms up -- WITH fuller's earth. I'm sure it'll provide my housemates and neighbors with further entertainment...[/quote]



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lucy the tudor
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Postby lucy the tudor » Sat Jan 05, 2008 6:54 pm

I have just been watching "Worst jobs in History", and a friend of ours was showing Tony Robinson how to full cloth by walking it in stale urine, in a big half barrel. He didn't enjoy it much, but no one could refuse Ruth anything, she just makes it all seem so logical. Even stripping to your undies to stomp wool in wee. It worked though. She really knows her stuff.
(We still jump up and down and squeak when we know someone on telly)
:oops:
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Annie the Pedlar
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Postby Annie the Pedlar » Sat Jan 05, 2008 7:03 pm

Hi Princess,
re. evil friends, and families come to that, objecting to you filling the bath with weird stuff (and in my case leaving it there for a week).
I've cracked it. Heavy duty polythene and your imagination. Find a way of propping the polythene up into a bath shape - I used a wall, a load of bricks and two planks of wood. Think origam. Fill with water. Enjoy. Dismantle , water the garden, and fold up the polythene, pile up bricks neatly etc when the inspector comes to call and your evil secret is safe with us.




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