Historical animation - Breaking Flax Bee

Tuesday, 17 July 2018, 13 h 30

All the steps of the preparation of flax are on display here, with the exception of harvesting and retting which had to be completed in advance. Retting is the process which decomposes the adhesive substance that binds the bast fibers to each other and also the woody inner portion of the stem.  This process can last 15 to 30 days, depending on the atmospheric conditions. Flax which has undergone this step will first be shelled, and then it will be warmed to soften the brittle stem. Then afterwards, it’s the breaking operation using a «break». This process is followed by the scutching. Then the flax will be combed with hackles, leaving only the long fibers that can be woven. Nothing will be lost: the shorter fibers or lower quality left in the hackles may be either spun for a coarser fabric, or may take the form of oakum for caulking and insulation works.