Straw Fan Experiment

Several weeks back, a friend posted links to hand fans made out of palm and straw. These were each found in the in the American Civil War Museum. They appear to each be homemade with a disk of straw or palm woven or sewn and a spindle handle. Details of each construction varied as did finishing.

Of course the straw aspect intrigued me. I wanted to know how functional this design would be and how comfortable one would be to use.

I created a straw focused mock-up using coarse while plait straw, a quarter inch dowel, and 4mm fine straw plait.

Each of my disks are 7″ in diameter. There is definitely a right side and a wrong side. The handles are slightly longer than the originals, being 12″ for the full dowel length.

I do not like the look of the plain dowel, which was split in half lengthwise. The turned spindle handles oc the originals are much prettier. The dowel is what I had in hand for this experiment. If I do another, I will be looking for a prettier handle.

I do like the look and feel of the straw wrapped dowel. One is wrapped from the disk down. The other is wrapped from the end up. This area has an extra strong layer of sizing applied. I do think I need to stitch down the end of the one wrapped down as those ends did not have a place to secure them.

Summer use will be telling for these handles. I anticipate sweaty hands will soften the sizing and straw causing them to loosen.

I tested out the fanning factor on Sunday when it was warmer out. I was surprised to find the relatively small disk creates a good breeze when combined with the long handle.

ADDITION: This is just an experiment to understand the straw aspect of these. I do not plan to make more of these for sale.

Published in: on May 20, 2019 at 4:08 pm  Comments (2)  

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Those are very nice. I can see them being very useful.

  2. These look great! Just the thing for hot muggy days! I have a palm leaf fan bought from Abraham’s Lady some years back. This19th century A/C works quite well, especially combined with sitting in the shade with sewing or other handwork and friendly conversation. That’s what our ancestors did!


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