#57 Investigating a pair of 19″ x 22-1/2″ Double Faced Laid Moulds from Wookey Hole

This is the other pair of moulds that was referred to in post #46; “Investigating a pair of Amies Wove Moulds”. There were not as many surprises this time but, as always, there are interesting details to observe.

Both moulds and deckle have this identifying tag, #319.

These moulds have laid facings that are as coarse as I’ve seen; 17.25 wires per inch. The laid wires are .030″ diameter and the chain wire perhaps as heavy as .015″. The backing wires are spaced 7.87 wires per inch and are smaller than those of the facing at .024″ diameter. The moulds have seen heavy use; many ribs are split and have been repaired by re-sewing over the split parts through new holes pierced farther down the sides of the ribs.

The nicely shaped cast brass corner braces measure 3″ x 3-3/8″ and are fastened with only four screws each. Boxwood rub strips protect the bottom edges between the corner braces.

I removed one of the castings as shown above.

I don’t know what the extra holes were for or why there appears to be a partially exposed cross-wise hole at the corner.

The outer sides of these moulds are strongly curved. Presumably this makes the deckle easy to fit over the top and provides a tighter seal after the deckle settles completely down onto the mould. The moulds and deckle are made of straight grained mahogany.

The deckle has extra wide ends. Apparently the moulds were originally built to make larger sheets and this deckle was made with wide overlaps at the ends to reduce the sheet size. The brass sheathing is nailed right down the mitered seams of the deckle corners. I haven’t seen this before.

You can see the unusually wide overlap in this view from beneath. This begs the question “what are waterbars for?” since they have been rendered useless here. These little extra ribs appear in all British moulds that I’ve seen. I believe that these were intended to encourage good drainage along the deckle edge. They probably function this way for single faced laid (antique laid) moulds but I think they may be non-functional on double faced moulds, either laid or wove.

A strip of wood is nailed to the bottom of one long edge of the deckle. This may have the purpose of keeping pulp from washing up from the bottom as the mould was dipped into a vat equipped with a ‘hog’, a rotating paddle that stirred the pulp to create a current. The wooden strip would also make it easier to quickly place the deckle over the mould.

The wire stitches are placed very closely. The wire often passes through sewing holes twice so the number of stitches on the face and the number of holes drilled through the ribs do not correspond. The stitching is irregular with stitches angling ‘backwards’ and ‘forwards’ instead of in an even spiral like I am used to seeing. Stitching this close requires very long lengths of sewing wire. This makes it more difficult for the person stitching the wire facing since each time a new stitch is taken a great length of wire has to be pulled through.

A view from below showing the stitches. The close hole spacing was likely the cause of this split rib and many more like it.

Many splits have been repaired by stitching.

Patches of ‘repair stitching’ or ‘over-stitching’ can be seen.

Many of the ribs had split at their ends. This is a different problem and is common in large moulds. It doesn’t seem to affect performance all that much.

These splits are often repaired by wiring across the split.

One end of each of these moulds has no sheathing and the copper strips that cover the edges of the wire facing are bent over the ends.

There must be reasons for most of these very specific construction details but many are a mystery to me.

Waterbars are usually wired to the brace rods where they cross. Here is a simple method of finishing the binding job with a little twist.

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