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Exhibition at the Old Fulling Mill museum celebrates local felt-making heritage

(21 February 2012)

Felt wedding dress

The historic craft of feltmaking will be celebrated in a new exhibition at Durham University's Old Fulling Mill Museum of Archaeology from this Sunday (26 February 2012).

The exhibition, entitled ‘Tethera, Methera, Tic: counting sheep, functional felt from local wools', showcases the work of Weardale felt-maker Ellie Langley.

Ellie lives and works on a small holding in Upper Weardale, where she keeps a small and varied flock of sheep.  Her work encompasses a range of functional felt items incorporating only local wools, many from her own sheep.  Highlights include a felt wedding dress and a felt coffin.

The exhibition title Tethera, methera, tic comes from the old Weardale sheep scoring system and means three, four, five.  Variations on this system were once common throughout Northern England. 

The wool industry has been an important part of life in Northern England for centuries. In recent years the economic value of wool has declined but concern for the environment has led to a revival of interest in natural fibres and has helped to ensure that centuries old wool crafts continue to be a living part of our heritage. 

Craig Barclay, Curator of the Archaeology Museum, said: “The Old Fulling Mill itself was once a part of Durhams thriving wool industry.  As such it makes an ideal setting in which to highlight the practical uses to which wool has been - and continues to be - put.  Ellies work is both functional and beautiful and demonstrates the versatility of this most traditional of materials.”

Tethera, Methera, Tic: counting sheep, functional felt from local wools runs until Monday, May 7 2012.

The Old Fulling Mill is open 11.30pm to 3.30pm Friday to Monday, November to March  and 11am to 4pm daily from April to the end of October.  Entry charges are: adults £1; children (five-16) and Over 60s 50p, children under five and students are free.  For more information telephone 0191 334 1823 or look at the Old Fulling Mill website.