It Works! She lives!
What you see here resting on my outdoor worktable is a prototype of a fully functioning tabletop Flax Brake! I am thrilled! This will now serve as my working (yay!) guide for making the final maple brake for the American Swedish Institute Teaching Tools Grant I received early this summer.
Check out the product of the first test—properly broken flax stalks!
I plan to cut the maple wood for the final brake at my husband's friend's workshop sometime in the next month and do my magic to create a fully functioning, gorgeous maple flax brake that will serve my students—and me for flax processing demonstrations—for years to come.
It's built to last. I chose to use screws rather than dowels for the construction since wooden dowels tend to shrink and expand with the changing seasons, which erratically loosens and tightens connections. I also decided to use a strong metal piano hinge for the pivot rather than a large dowel because the weakest point in both of my vintage brakes has been the wooden pivot dowel. This brake should stand the test of time—and the use of many hands!
I just learned that the three hackles, which are the other tools I requested in my grant application, are coming in from the UK next week. (A site in the UK was the only place I located that still makes a properly graduated set of three flax hackles.) I'll post the news and photos when I have the hackles in hand.
Sorry. Nothing new to share on the flax plant front. They are still growing, albeit slowly, in the pots, but a few stalks are starting to yellow. Their growing season should be ending soon, with drying and harvesting to follow. Perhaps I'll have more to share about the plants in my next post.