For this weeks Object Highlight Beatrice, our Learning and Outreach Apprentice, has chosen the Teasel Gig.
Teasel Gig –
I love how this important piece of engineering is based on such a simple and natural element as the teasel. The teasel is a wild growing plant with a prickly head that grows lavender coloured flowers. When dried, the head of the teasel becomes hard and prickly – perfect to use in the weaving industry.
Teasels were traditionally used to ‘raise the nap’ – this means they were used by hand to comb the surface of damp woollen cloth to make it soft and fluffy. Eventually these wild growing plants were cultivated to have stouter and more re-curved seed heads and were known as fuller’s teasels. The Teasel Gig was invented to make this process more efficient and faster. The gig could contain up to 3000 teasel heads in an iron frame and was powered by electricity. Such an amazing combination of man and nature and a machine that really shows that transition from more natural and sustainable production to the fast paced and highly mechanised workings of the Victorians.