Shearing Sheep For Antique Rug Weaving
Shearing – The art of rug making spans centuries just as its practice spans the globe. Since the very first rugs were woven hundreds of years ago, artisans have utilized the wool of sheep and other wool-bearing animals for their raw materials, a practice that is very much still in practice today.
Shearing itself is, quite simply, the process whereby the wool is removed from a particular animal. Modern or more traditional tools may be utilized in shearing.
More modern tools include electric clippers and trimmers, while more traditional tools include clippers and other scissor-like implements. Regarding the wool itself, there are effectively two different “sorts” of wool that may be removed from an animal: shorn wool and dead wool.
The level in quality between these two different sorts of wool is great, and it is important to know the difference between them. Of the two, shorn wool is the superior type of wool. Shorn wool is that wool which is removed from a living animal.
As such, it possesses a high level of moisture, or lanolin, which gives it an appealing, lustrous quality. Meanwhile, some wool is chemically removed from the hides of slaughtered sheep. This ‘dead wool’ is always dull and dry, lacking as it is in the nutrient-rich lanolin that gives shorn wool its appeal.
As a general rule, rugs and other weaves that are made with ‘dead wool’ are to be avoided: anything that is woven with dead wool with be wanting in overall quality. The shearing of livestock for wool is an ancient and global practice, and one of the most important processes that goes into creating a genuinely beautiful carpet or rug.
The fact that the practice is still so alive today is a testament to its efficacy, and to the fact that sometimes the old ways are best!