Process that mats together fleece (raw wool) by subjecting it to moisture, heat, friction, and pressure. Sheep hair have scales that open somewhat when wet; layering hairs in a parallel fashion and applying some form of agitation cause the hairs to tighten together in a solid mat. The result is a lightweight, windproof, and water-resistant fabric that has been used for millennia to make hats, boots, and tents. Light felting is sometimes done to woven or knitted wool, a process known as fulling, to create a thicker and softer fabric.
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Originally, this was literally pounding the cloth with the fuller's feet (whence the description of them as 'walkers'), or with his hands or a club. However, from the medieval period, it was often carried out in a water mill.
By the medieval period, fuller's earth had been introduced. This is a soft clay-like material occurring in nature as an impure hydrous aluminium silicate. This seems to have been used in conjunction with 'wash'. More recently, soap has been used.
From the medieval period, the fulling of cloth was often undertaken in a water mill, known as a fulling mill (also as walk mills or tuck mills). In Wales, a fulling mill is a pandy. In these, the cloth was beaten with wooden hammers, known as fulling stocks. Fulling stocks were of two kinds, falling stocks (operating vertically), used only for scouring, and driving or hanging stocks. In both cases the machinery was operated by cams on the shaft of a waterwheel or on a tappet wheel, which lifted the hammer.
Driving stocks were pivotted so that the 'foot' (the head of the hammer) struck the cloth almost horizontally. The stock had a tub holding the liquor and cloth. This was somewhat rounded on the side away from the hammer, so that the cloth gradually turned, ensuring that all parts of it were milled evenly. However, the cloth was taken out about every two hours to undo plaits and wrinkles. The 'foot' was somewhat triangular in shape, with notches to assist the turning of the cloth.
The first European reference to a fulling mill so far discovered was in Normandy about 1086. The first in England occurs in the Winton Domesday of 1117-19. Others belonged to the Knights Templar by 1185.
What caused Don Quixote to tilt at windmills? "Six huge Fulling-Mill Hammers which interchangeably thumping several Pieces of Cloth, made the terrible Noise that caus'd all Don Quixote's Anxieties and Sancho's Tribulation that Night." from Don Quixote by Cervantes.
The tradition of fulling mills: a study from engineering/ La tradicion de Los Batanes: un estudio desde de la ingenieria/ A tradicao dos pisoes: um estudo a partir da engenharia.
Oct 01, 2007; SUMMARY The hydraulic study of a typical fulling mill is shown. Located in Alfoz (Lugo, Espana), it faithfully represents...
Publication No. WO/2009/015528 Published on Feb. 5, Assigned to Fulling & Ceiec for Membrane Pump (Chinese Inventors)
Mar 07, 2009; GENEVA, March 7 -- Leijie Jiang and Hongbo Liu, both of China, have developed a membrane pump with a casing. The patent has been...