Read on to know more about sheepskin, sheepskin slippers and how to choose the right kind of sheepskin products?
What is Sheepskin? Sheepskin, as the word suggests, is the skin of sheep, lamb or mutton. The skin of these sheep is very soft, warm and is known to be insulating and static-free. These sheepskins are very comfortable to wear and find many uses such as in rugs, coats, and sheepskin slippers.
How is Sheepskin chosen? There are more than 100 different types of sheep. Each produces a different kind of skin. Also depending upon the season, the skin has a different amount of wool on it. In the spring season, lambs and therefore lambskins have soft skin, which has a less amount of wool on it. During the months of July and August the production of wool on the body of the sheep begins to increase and this continues till the end of the year. The sheepskins at the beginning of production are about 1.5 inches to 2 inches thick. The sheepskins during the peak of the wool production period are between 2 inches to 3 inches thick. During the months of December and January, the skin of these sheep is quite thick with wool and can reach a thickness of up to 3 inches or more. Once the skin is removed from the sheep, it is dried and cooled naturally and then cured. For the purposes of curing the sheepskin a special kind of dried salt is used which contains bactericides and fungicides. There are two types of treatments given to the sheepskin. They are: Drum Salting In this procedure the salt and the chemicals are mixed with the skins and they are tumbled together for about 2 hours. Then these skins are stacked on top of each other for about 5 days to let the fluids drain from the skin. Conveyor Salting In this procedure, the skins are laid out flat on a conveyor belt and salt is showered on them. These skins are then folded and stacked on top of each other. This allows for a deeper penetration of the salt into the sheep skins.
What to look for before buying sheepskin products?
One of the main things to look out for before buying sheepskin products is the seed contamination. Seed contamination is a fault on the surface of the sheepskin which is caused by patches of scar tissue which is left behind on the skin of the sheep after a wound caused by seed burrows has healed. This happens during the life of the sheep and the skin patches caused by seed contamination cannot be removed. This patch may fall off and leave holes in the skin itself. The seed contamination patches can range from 'No Visible Seed' to 'Light' or 'Medium' seed to 'Heavy' and 'Burry' seed.
The next thing to consider during the purchasing of sheepskin is to see for shear scars. These are caused when the skins of the sheep are shorn for wool before they are removed. The scars are left behind during the process of shearing them for wool, and have not been allowed or given time to heal.
Another thing to look for is the weathered tip of the wool. Almost all of the wool of the sheep will be weathered by dirt and weather for the first few millimeters. This has to be cleaned and dyed before the sheepskin is sold.
The more tender the sheepskin the more is the possibility that it has been taken off a sheep suffering from a skin disease or lice infestation.
Also, most genuine wool products should have the international woolmark standard.
How to Choose the Right Sheepskin Slippers?
Sheepskin slippers are known to keep feet dry and allow the feet to 'breathe'. They are also very warm. This allows you to wear them without socks.
Once you know how to choose the right sheepskin or how to look for the right sheepskin type, the next logical step is choosing the right kind of sheepskin slippers.
Before buying the sheepskin slippers, you first need to identify if you are going to be wearing them inside the house or outside. If you intend to wear these sheepskin slippers outside the house, then they must have a flexible, sturdy and non-slip sole.
Ideally, the sheepskin slippers must have certain areas like the heel and the toe area reinforced.
Before buying a pair of sheepskin slippers, check for the quality of the sheepskin first.
Then choose a size that fits you well. If you are a size and a half, then ideally choose the next full size. For example, if you are a 6 and ? then go for a size 7 for these slippers.
Usually, these sheepskin slippers will have removable and replaceable insoles.
How to take care of my sheepskin slippers? Sheepskin is not waterproof. Therefore it is essential to use your sheepskin slippers with care, especially in the rainy seasons.
To wash your sheepskin slippers, you can use a mild non-biological detergent. Then hand-wash the slippers and place them in a dry area which is away from direct heat and sunlight.
Do not use any kind of fabric conditioner for sheepskin products.
If you want to retain the original shape and quality of the wool, then be sure to use a wire-dog or a rug brush before and after the drying process.
It is important to note that washing in hot water, bleaching, using a biological detergent, storing in a plastic bag, tumble drying the sheepskin slippers in a washing machine or even drying these slippers on a radiator ? all will destroy your sheepskin slippers.
With all these guidelines in mind, it will now become easier for you to choose the right sheepskin slippers for you and to care for them as well.
Do It Yourself: Fixing scratches in wood furniture and trim
Scratches in wood can often be repaired easily with products found at home or at home improvement stores. Scratches can happen all too easily to furniture and woodwork. Take heart! There are many things you can do to repair these unsightly marks. First, determine if the scratch is into the wood, or only in the finish. If the scratch is not discolored, or can only be seen from certain angles, it is in the finish. This is good news with most finishes. There are several things that will restore your finish.
Wax - A fresh coat of paste wax is often all you need to repair these minor scratches. Spray polishes may work, but are less effective at concealing scratches. Lemon - Mix equal parts lemon juice and vegetable oil or olive oil. Apply a generous amount on a clean lint free cloth, rubbing firmly in the direction of the scratch, until it disappears. Oil Finish - Some companies, such as Old English, make a specific oil to use on scratched finishes.
If your surface is coated with urethane or polyurethane, scratches are more difficult to repair. Try carefully sanding the scratch with 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper. Moisten the sandpaper with water or lemon oil and sand gently. When you have removed the scratch, buff with 0000 steel wool and paste wax to bring back the shine.
If your woodwork or furniture is finished with shellac or lacquer, you can remove scratches by painting the area with an appropriate solvent. Use alcohol on shellac and lacquer thinner or nail polish remover on lacquer. Paint the thinner on with a brush until the finish softens and fills the cracks, and then let the piece sit overnight for the finish to harden again. Your scratches should be gone. This technique also works for cracking or alligatoring of the finish.
If the scratch appears lighter in color than the surrounding wood, it is through the finish and into the wood. In this case, you will need to color it to make it disappear. There are a number of items that you may have at home, which will do the job, as well as several commercial products.
Nuts - Nutmeats will often hide scratches. Rub the meat of a Brazil nut, a Walnut, a Pecan, or an Almond into the scratch. Be careful to rub in the direction of the scratch, and only in the scratch, as the nutmeat will darken the surrounding wood as well. Eyebrow Pencil - Eyebrow pencil comes in many colors, and will often conceal small scratches. Match the color carefully, and follow the direction of the scratch. Crayons - Children's crayons can also be used to fill a scratch, if you happen to have the right color. You have a bit more leeway with these, as they are wax, and can be removed if needed. Shoe Dye or Shoe Polish - Shoe polish comes in a myriad of colors these days. Either the liquid, or the paste forms can be used to fill a scratch. If using liquid, use a fine brush to apply. If using the paste variety, a cotton swab can be useful. Iodine - If you have mahogany woodwork or furniture, iodine often works well to hide scratches. For brown or cherry mahogany, use iodine that has turned dark. For lighter woods, such as maple you can dilute the iodine with an equal amount of denatured alcohol to cover scratches. In each case, paint the iodine carefully in the scratch with a fine brush and allow to dry. If it is too light, apply another coat. Always err on the side of lightness, as it is easy to darken an area further, but more difficult to lighten it! On the commercial side, there are a number of different products available. Stain - First of all, you can buy a small can of liquid stain to match your furniture and apply with a fine brush or cotton swab. Wait for it to dry, and add a second coat if needed. Markers - Many companies, such as MinWax, sell wood stain packaged in a marker, especially for touch-ups. These are easy to use, simply color in the scratch and wait a minute for it to dry. If it is too light, repeat. Pencils - Companies also sell special pencils or crayons which match wood colors and can be used to camouflage scratches. Ask at your local home improvement store.
Once you have darkened the scratch to match the surrounding wood, all you need to do is wax or polish the wood, and the scratch will be gone.
If all your efforts fail, do not give up hope! Contact a professional wood refinisher. Chances are, a professional can make your wood furniture look as good as new, sometimes even better.
A scratch in wood furniture or woodwork doesn't have to be a disaster. With these simple tips, you too can once again have beautiful wood in your home.
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