The Rebel Washboard, A Tale of Two Scottish Artisans
Glass blowing is a combination of inventive thinking, impeccable skill and natural materials… sounds a lot like tartan right? Although the textile may be more globally iconic to Scotland, the role of glass in our culture is nothing short of dynamic, most predominantly its intrinsic relationship with Whisky.
Did you know that centuries back, glass was once as valuable as silver in Scotland? Even though we may feel used to it as commonplace now in the modern world, our craft neighbours Angels’ Share Glass cherish the value of this magical craft through their safeguarding of artisanal skill and artistry.
Based in Stirling, like us they walk the walk when it comes to serving Scottish Industry and championing domestic making in an evermore globalised world of production. They provide jobs to local people, as well as advocate for sustainability across all practices. It is no wonder that we hit it off so well!
Our ethics alignment is clear, and under the surface there is more to discover as our crafts share an intertwining history too through symbolism within the Jacobite movement: Tartan was an overt signifier of alliance to the Highland cause, whilst glass was the canvas for secret messages following the Battle of Culloden, when Jacobite association was risky.
Recently Angels’ Share Glass co-authored their own bespoke tartan design with us. With such strong connections between our teams, we felt inspired to solidify our relationship further through a new collaboration that celebrates the intersection of glass, tartan and whisky – a ‘Made in Scotland’ fusion of Prickly Thistle and Angels Share – the Rebel Washboard.
In times before machines, the humble washboard with its corrugated grooves was used to scrub the dirt out of clothes – nothing short of hard graft! Originally believed to have been made exclusively from wood, they developed to metal sheeting for durability before glass was introduced as the most sustainable material for them after WWII.
Naturally, this Rebel Washboard is made from reclaimed materials; the wood is upcycled whisky barrel staves, the glass is repurposed privacy windowpanes, and the entire thing is coated in raw linseed oil to make it food safe.
The marriage of cloth and glass in this trusty household instrument deemed it the perfect item for us to create with Angels’ Share. It is an ode to tradition with a modern flare as we encourage folk to embrace the re-purpose mindset, channel the #repealit versatility approach and imagine other uses for it outside of garment cleaning … a quirky cheeseboard? A bathroom tray for your plastic free toiletries? Perhaps a unique wall hanging or indeed… a more environmentally friendly way to wash your smalls with good old elbow power!
Love Clare and the team
Angels' Share have written a blog post too about this collab, check it out here!
I love all your products, partly because of your ethics and vision.
I was the eldest of nine children. For the first years of my life, we lived in small one-room ‘shacks’ built by my Dad, his next older brother and their father. When I was six, the home was about 10’ by 18’, with a double bed for my parents, three bunks at the foot of that for me and my two eldest brothers and a basket on the floor for the baby brother. Mum was expecting my first sister at the time.
Dad chopped the wood and carried the water up from a creek. Mum did all the washing (including sheets and Dad’s heavy work jeans) in a round metal tub that also served as a bathtub on Saturday nights. She did the laundry kneeling on the floor and using a wood and glass washboard much like the one you show here. That was 1951-52 (in that home). She didn’t have an electric wringer washer until I was about 10 or 12, so 1956 or 1958. And by 1958 there were seven children.
I’m sharing my story to remind you that it wasn’t all that long ago and I remember it all very well.
I hope there are plans to expand the Runrig collection . . . I can understand why you don’t sell fabric by the yard, but I do wish it were possible. I love hand-stitching my own clothes, although I haven’t done that for a while now. I am half Norwegian and half German Mennonite (although my Dad – and his parents, too – was born on a colony in Russia) I’m from British Columbia, Canada and have been a Runrig fan for many years. I was fortunate to spend six months in the UK in 2018 and to attend the final two concerts in Stirling. I hope to return one day and if I do, I plan to visit your weaving mill. My Mum was a spinner and weaver, among many other things, and I’ve done some of both myself. So I appreciate your products more than many, I think.
Keep up the good work; you are an inspiration to so many around the world.
Stay well, all of you. ~ Linne
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