Volume XIX Number 2 - Febuary 2007

Sooo - the big question is - WHO MADE IT? It's not Glen, Hutcheon, or other Edinburgh makers - except maybe MacDougall, who had his shop there from about 1860 until 1871. For more on the saga, click on the photo below:

We will be down at The Boat on the 17th and 18th of this month, hope to see some of you there. I will have this pipe with me for those who want to drool, just keep it off the wood, thanks. As I've never been to the Queen Mary Games it will be interesting to see what the setup is like and how Scott MacDonald runs it in conjunction with the hotel. Looks to be a good venue, as we haven't been there before. Won't have a booth, but most of you will recognise me....

It's definitely all over for Ola Gorie; I received a second notice from them just days ago saying they had sold out all their remaining inventory for resale, and that they are only going to retail their line from their shop in Kirkwall. Too bad, their stuff was just magnificent. We still have some in stock, so call or email as to what's still available - but once it's gone, it's GONE, and there's no more available. We're looking at the line from SHETLAND JEWELLERY and we'll let you know when we get some in, hopefully for the Woodland Games.


SPORRANS is this month's dress topic, and there's a lot to say about them. Too many times do we see sporrans that are just WRONG - big, bulging rucksacks filled with cel phones, large wallets, rolls of hemp, whatnot, just too much JUNK!

DAY WEAR: there's a lot of leeway here. Leather, fur, brass/leather, brass/fur, silver/leather, silver/fur, artificial fur for those who desire it, even the dreaded NAUGAHIDE (wow, do you know how many naugas gave their lives for that sporran?). You can wear just about anything with daywear - except a Great Hairy. Just don't. It looks ridiculous. Hair sporrans are for military dress only, ceremonial or full dress. Yes, you can wear an evening sporran with day dress, just make it a more formal version of day dress, not a t-shirt and flipflops.

EVENING WEAR: fur is the word, and fur is the style. Sealskin, now hard to get, is the traditional material for evening sporrans, although animal mask sporrans are perfectly correct. Some people don't like to see beady glass eyes staring at them from that level, but that's just too bad, isn't it? I like animal mask sporrans, especially the wildcat (got one) and badger (sold it) styles. Heavy ornamentation - go for it. The Highlander of old prided himself on his appearance, and always wore the best he could afford for formal occasions. We can get just about any kind of sporran that's made - badger, fox, lynx, bear, even real seal once in a while - it's Greenland seal, culled from areas where there is heavy overpopulation since major sealing operations were put out of business fifteen years ago. For those who won't wear real fur there is a synthetic substitute available called 'artificial seal.'

ABOUT HAIR SPORRANS: yes they do have their place, and can even be worn in full dress evening wear with white tie, The hair sporrans worn by gents and officers in the auld days of the Raj were made from goat hair, not horse hair. Horse hair was for the Other Ranks sporrans, goat for officers in the highland regiments. Goat hair is much finer, shorter, and easier on itchy knees. I have an old Gordon officer's sporran that I'd wear - if I were a Gordon, and if it weren't worth a brick. I asked a sporran maker about goat hair once and he just looked at me....

For some sporran ideas, here's our COMMERCIAL SPORRAN LINE - for those who aren't faint of heart or wallet, here are some examples of our CUSTOM SPORRANS.

Sporran chains - most of the current commercial chains are crap, but there are some interesting new celtic interlace and St. Andrew's cross designs out there, not cheap thoough - but what is, anymore? Unless you want to blow your next bonus on a silver sporran chain like the ones I make, you're pretty much out of luck for choices of different chain styles. Some people get a couple of curb chain dog collars and cobble them together - or you can always wear a leather sporran strap with a daywear or military sporran.

Now as to what goes in your sporran: keep it simple. A set of car keys, a small billfold, not much more than that. If you need a place for more stuff and aren't wearing a jacket, get one of those waist belt pouches that many of the suppliers now sell. You can put all your piping bits in one of those - much safer than a sporran to keep your spare chanter reeds and hemp. They also sell little cel phone holders for your belt as well - or why not try living without one for a day? Or even better, get a backpack for all your junk, and let your sporran have the day off!

Now just don't get me started about the Ren Fairy sporrans....! NEXT MONTH - THE KILT!

Black Part Speaks: he's holding off his salvo until after the Boat!

(The management of Cuillinn Craft takes NO responsibility for any editorial statements made by John Eric Partanen PhD. Any and all comments should be directed to BLACK PART)


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