I’ve had great fun designing and creating these bags. They made using a special ball imported from America. There are 3 stags involved making the bag. Firstly laying out the design. I use mostly mohair, cotton and silk to create the design. Part of the design is the three layers of wool used to make the bag.
After I have completed designing the bag, I roll the ball in different directions at least twelve hundred times, followed by a minimum of two thousand bounces. These actions begin the felting process and encourage the fibres to mix and blend together ready for the fulling process. The fulling process happens after the ball is removed from the ball and involves continuing working the fibres so that they continue to merge together and begin to shrink. This involves rubbing the fibres, followed by rolling and throwing the bag. The process is completed when the bag holds it shapes. Once dry the handle and clasp are added.
The whole process presently takes me about 8 hours plus and I usually make each bag over two days. I let it dry naturally.
These bags will be for sale at the shows I am attending during the autumn and winter 2021 and also at Starlings gift shop, Bexhill.
A New flock of Southdown sheep have arrived at Starlings. Sackville Road Bexhill East Sussex I designed and created them to celebrate the now almost forgotten Sussex wool industry.
Historically this British sheep is considered one of the most important breed. Originally sheep were bred for their wool particularly in the Middle Ages. Hence Many of our Sussex public houses are called the the Lamb, the Fleece, The Woolpack, Shepherd and Dog, plus smugglers Inn. The Southdown Sheep is considered to provide high quality fleeces that were exported and during the 100 year war smuggled to France. Today the sheep are valued for their fleece, meat and improving the livestock of other sheep. It is the oldest of the Down sheep.
Romney Sheep are an important part of Sussex and Kent history and environment.
They suit living on the marshes, the sheep produce fleeces that are large and dense. The wool is long, lustrous with fibres ranging from medium course to medium fine. Thus, it is versatile.
This wool was critical to the early England’s dominance in the European wool market. The Romney population was large with much of the wool exported to Europe. Edward I placed a tax on its export. Initially insignificant until the onset of the hundred-year war. The taxes increased significantly to fund the war. Consequently, the shepherds of Romney marsh and Kent’s fishermen took up smuggling wool and other goods to France with considerable profit that outweighed the penalties of smuggling.
Today the Sussex Wildlife Trust use Romney Sheep to graze the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve to maintain the grassland where birds that feed, roost and nest. Without this intervention the area would quickly become scrub and then woodland. To suit the needs of the wildlife supported on the reserve sheep grazing areas and times of the year are part of their annual planning Sheep graze from September to March only. This allows for the favoured plants important to the longer tongued bumblebees.