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OSTRICH FEATHER BOAS -- 0 o--. WILL THEY RETURN TO AVOE? WINTER NECKWEAR. 2According to edrtain fashion experts there is to bd a revival in the demand for ostrich feathers. During tihe com ing winter it is believcd that women's teeki?car will include large collarettes --or boas-of ostrich fea:thers. In pre vious seasons when this style was popu? Jar the boa was either white or black. The new, line is to be dyed in a wide range of colors.. It is not suggested that large collarettes of this descrip tion will be in as brisk demand as they were when feather boas were almost uni versally worn. For instance, well-dressed women have learned to understand that what suits those who are slim may be quite unsuitable for those who are more sub stantial. The large feather boa is not. for the stout; it is for the slender, and to the latter it may, it is thought, pro3. attractive. Those who have forecast the revival of the ostrich feather boas point to a report recently received from South Africa to the effect that the ostrich feather market shows improve ment; that competition is better anil prices have advanced. In view of the possibility of ostrich feathers again.coming into their own ,: will doubtless interest ove'r-seas renders to know something about the work car ried on in ostrich feather factories. where the crude and often ugly product of the South African bird is transform ed into handsome plumes and mounts. S Dyeing. London is the centre of the o.?:ric feather manufacturing industry. The trade is conducted by a comparatively small number of firms; there areione or two smaller concerns in the suburbs, but for the most part the ostrich feather manufacturors are located in nanl around the city. The labour employed is chiefly female, but nien and boys are generally to be found in the dye-ronoms. Before the outbreak of the war in 1914 the dyeing section of the trade (i hich is usually carried on in the same building as the manufacturing) exclu sively employed men and boys, but during the war female labor was intro duced into some of the dye-rooms. Most firms, however, did not fellow this inno vation, but kept the dyeing in the hands of male workers. This was only as it should be, for feather dyeing is dirty and arduous work. It is, however, no dirtier or more arduous than other trades which use dyes ant) employ 1ro men in the process. I have seeni a woman carrying out very cfficiently- the work of dyeing and cleaning ostrich feathers. When the. naturnl colors of ostrich feathers have been extracted l;y the aid of peroxide of hydrogen, if white or light colors are required. cr dyed in the case of darker colors, they are dried and then passed into the hands of women, who are responsible for the whole of the. remaining (and multitudinous) operations. 'It is a fact. worth noting that there has never been invented a machine which will do the work of the girls em ployed in making up ostrich feathers. The industry is now, as it was 20 or i:) years ago, still carried on by hand pro cesses with one exception, that of feather boa making, with which I will deal later. When the feathers arriv, from the dye-rooms they are usually strung in lengths, and before the actual work comimences have to be unstrung, writes Mary 1?. Ellis in' the ''Daily Mail." Scraping. They are sorted (one person's Work) and are theni handed to the "layers,. who place 'certain pieces together .as suitable to be sewn into the complete feather, acc'ording to the length and quality of the feathers required for the :particular order in hand. These la- outs :are passcedl to other girls, whose duty it is to pare the inside stenms with a small knife. The paring and sulbscquent scr:aping of the stemns are considered : by many as one of - the most ardu ous of the numerous processes through which feathers have to. pass. The parer has to he exceed. ingly careful not to touch the neactual feather, but odnly the stemri; while the seraper ihas the much more dittieult task of scraping the steims until they are of the required degree of supple nless, without touchinig the "'flues,"as thdi, are ealed. It is performed by means of-small pieces of glass broken on" a curve by the aid of a flint, andl the glass is continually getting blunt arid having to he replaced by pit fresh piece. This section of the uranuf~ceturing process is a most primitive one for the girls still have to do the scraping With these nsmall pieces of glass hehl betwefen the fingers. It isn astonishin., that there are not more cut finger., but even after years of practice girls will often hbe seen .with many cuts down .the sides of certain fin ers. Sewing. :It is extraordinary that somnicone has not yet invented ai scraping impleient. It is all the more extradrdinary seeing that a sewing machine is availablefor feather boas, which comprise only 'a part of the product of an ostrich fea-: ther factory, while every :_iece of fet ther
ing) has to be scraped to a greater or lest; degree of suppleness before it can bIe made up. After the laid-out feathers have hadl the inside scraped, the sewers take them over. In- sonie factories the sew ers scrape their own work, but' in others the two processes are carried out: by separate girls. In any cease. the learners are always taught each process, and they gradually sort themnl selves out (or are sorted) according to the part of the work for which they show the greatest fitness. In passing it may be noted that the scrapers andt sewers are exposed to the danger of breathing dust which is ere ated in the process of scraping. The stem often gets covered with minute particles of 'flue''" of the feathers. Sewing is interesting, and requires more knack than any other work as sociated with the industry. T'hat is why it is almost imipossibe to deseribe it in such a way as to give any idea of how it is done. Sufliced to say that by this means the pieces of feather are sewn together in accordance with the layout. The completed feathers are then steamed in order to get them ino good and bright condition. for the final process of curling. This operation is perform ed with a speeially mladl' knife" with at very thick, blunt edge. Hundreds of Pieces. In addition to ordinary ostrich fea thers-plumes for women's hats-there are various classes of fancy mounts and naigrettes which are made from ostrich feathers, or in, the oinposition of which the latter largely enter. An imper-tant setion of the ostrich feather industry was at one time the making of boas. T'he.;e are madte up of hundreds of pieces of ostrich fea ther. They are formerly sewn by hand, but, as stated above, a sewing mna chine wars latr intreoduceid which en ables the operation to be performed three or four times as quickly as was the case by hand. In connection with the machine trhe stems of the fiat hetrs h:ve still to be scraped as for hand-sewing, but the laying is done on a londg rack which has hundreds of teeth. This is subse quently placed under the foot of the machine and sew1n, the rack moving through with the working of the man chine. The boa is then streamined an twisted tightly into :t circular shape andt the curlers complete the operation. Ostrich feather making is one of the few industries in which the whole of the raw material is obta:ined frani one of the Domiitnions-British South Af rica. It is also one of the' few indus tries wvhiFh are carried en! almost ex elusively in London.