Lipe work chair

This unusual lipe work chair was made in the 19th century from coiled wheat straw lashed together with strips of holly bark. Long stems of bramble were also used for this type of chair, soaked, stripped of thorns and split. The chair has a wooden base and metal castors, and originally had a cloth cover which explains why it survived. It originally belonged to Dr John Roberts, Llanberis, and was part of the collection of Owen Rawson Owen when he was the proprietor of Gorffwysfa Hotel, Llanberis. It was given to the Museum in 1965.

To make the coils, a bundle of straw was pushed through a horn tube and as it came through was bound with the strips of soaked split bramble or holly bark. More straw was added to keep the horn tube full. In this way the coils maintained their thickness and could increase in length. The binding joins were achieved with a large pointed needle made from a horse bone, which poked the ends into the tightly bound coils. If the brambles dried out they became brittle and unworkable.

This chair is on display in Gallery 3. Storiel has a lipe work needle and a lipe work flailer’s measure, on display in Galleries 3 and 4.