Sunday, 17 August 2014

Mazamet Woolen Cloth.

A place in France.
Mazamet in France is where it is said that fellmongering originated.
Sheepskin Fellmongering: The use of wool fleece from dead sheep where the fleece literally falls off the sheepskin or is pulled off.the skin after the skin has been removed from the dead sheep . Woolen cloth known as Mazamet was produced in Mazamet, France.

22 ells of mazamet and 4 ounces of Rennes thread in 4 capotes

The word "Fellmongery" applies to an industrial plant whose purpose is to remove the wool from sheepskins. The method is as follows:
§  1. Sheepskins are scraped free of fat on the flesh side.
§  2. Skins are soaked in water for a certain time. This time depends on weather and temperature.
§  3. Skins are hung on wooden racks between 12 and 24 hours.
§  4. After the skin follicles have started to open, the skins are removed from the racks and place on wooden racks. Today, the skins are classed or sorted by registered woolclassers, but originally the only sorting would have been the separation of white and coloured skins.
§  5. A wooden comb, shaped to the horse, is forced along the sheepskin, removing the wool in one or two passes.
§  6. The resultant wool, in it's wet state, is laid out to dry in netting.
§  7. Sheepskins, now clean of wool, are also dried on racks. The follicles will close up again and the skins are used for uppers of shoes in the boot trade.
§  8. The wool is referred to as "lave a dos" or part scoured (part washed).
§  9. Wool scourers now scour (or wash) the wool fully in preparation for spinning into yarn. This would have been done by hand, but now is carded, combed and spun mechanically.
The above system of fellmongery was in vogue in the late 18th century and possibly earlier. This process continued to be the wool removal method until the 1980's when chemical processes were used to separate the wool from the skins. (source: David Wischer 2006) 

Sheepskin centre in southern France. Famous for its Mazamet Slats, which were sheepskins with the wool removed by sweating, which maximizes the value of the wool, but does not do a lot of good for the skins. http://www.mikeredwood.com/places
A Worker in a Fellmonger's Yard by W H Pyne, 1805

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