Wood species analysis of traditional hand-operated spinning wheels from Central Europe

In: IAWA Journal
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  • 1 Department of Wood Science, Faculty of Forestry and Wood Technology, Mendel University in Brno, Zemědělská 3, Czech Republic
  • 2 Institute of Wood Technology and Renewable Resources, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, BOKU–Vienna, Konrad Lorenz-Straße 24, Austria

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ABSTRACT

Hand spinning has become increasingly popular as a recovery of the traditional techniques of natural fibre processing and cultural heritage protection. Modern spinning wheels are usually made of easily available wood species, particularly hardwoods, and one spinning wheel usually consists of one or two species. However, the wood species that were used for the individual parts of old spinning wheels in Central Europe are still unknown. To improve our understanding of traditional craftsmen and their skills, we investigated old spinning wheels that originated from Central Europe in the 19th and the 20th century. In this study, we present a collection of 643 samples from 54 artefacts representing the region between the European Alps and the Western Carpathians. Spinning wheels were usually made of 3 to 5 wood species, and the species selection varied among regions. Generally, high wood density (> 600 kg.m−3) species prevailed in Austria and Western Slovakia, but lower wood density (< 600 kg.m−3) species were preferred in the south-eastern Czech Republic. Easily workable species were used for the production of the spinning wheels, primarily Tilia, Fagus sylvatica, Picea abies, and Acer. In addition to these species, a high proportion of fruit-bearing trees and three shrubs were identified. Wood anatomy, as an important scientific method, contributed to understanding the reasons for species selection and the suitability of their properties which will enable the conservation of sustainable folk traditions and crafts, as well as the knowledge of traditional craftsmen.

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