Friday, December 13, 2013

Welly-moot visits Stansborough

Peter Kenny visited us today from Brisbane, Australia. He was in Wellington for a few Hobbit 2:DOS events, and I had arranged to take him to Stansborough Fabrics, the people who created the fabric for Gandalf's cloak, as well as the Elven cloaks used in LOTR.

To get us there, I managed to convince Wellington Rover Tours to lend a hand, and they provided me with a van for the afternoon. Peter Kenny will be coming on one of the LOTR tours over the weekend as well.

In fact, Stansborough created far more than just a bit of fabric for LOTR. Think: over one kilometer of fabric for LOTR; enormous amounts for The Hobbit movies, more for Avatar, Narnia, The Waterhorse, Thirty Days of Night, and a whole lot of other movies.

A few scarves with different colours weaving patterns.

We arrived as a small group - it was just me (Jack), Peter Kenny, Franziska, and Adam, and Kris joined us as well. When we got to the factory, Cheryl Eldridge met us at the door, and took us into the small shop area. Through the window we could see the enormous looms already.

Cheryl explains some of the finer point of the machinery

Cheryl described how the factory came to be, from breeding these odd looking grey sheep, to finding the old looms, to searching for people who had the almost lost knowledge to use them (and fix them when they break)!
This loom is set up with the LOTR Hobbit pattern, ready to go.

Barry took over the tour, and showed us what he was working on. All items are created by hand, and apart from some mechanical tools, no modern machinery is involved in the process at any stage. It's nice to know that when you see the final product on screen, I think. The looms are over 100 years old at the stage.

Barry making hats for a certain wizard. Note what SECRET ingredient he's using!

After seeing how the hats were made, it was Richard's turn - to show us the looms in operation. Incredibly noisy, I tried to film a bit of it but got too close, and Richard shut them off, as apparently (and only occasionally) the little shuttle can shoot off and kill the closest camera person. I'm not sure if he was kidding but took him at his word!

Richard looks calm, while the loom has become a blur of action. Peter looks on and seems impressed!

All in all, a great afternoon - I think everyone enjoyed seeing the factory in action!

Franziska looks like she had a good time.

Stansborough has an online shop as well, where a lot of products are offered for sale. Check them out, they ship to most countries.

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