Fire & Fibre
Corn Dollies
ABOUT
Remember what we work for - love not money.

The term ‘corn dolly’ is a relatively modern, generic term. In ancient times the word corn was the name given to grain bearing plants, and the word ‘dolly’ is most likely a slang version of ‘idol’. Hence corn dolly really means ‘Spirit of the grain’! 
 
Before the 20th Century, local harvest customs were widespread and varied from region to region, although various elements were common to most. When the corn was harvested it was thought that the corn spirit retreated before the reapers and took refuge in the last of the standing corn. When this last patch of corn was cut, some of the stalks with ears would be woven or plaited into a figure or shape called a corn dolly. The corn spirit was thought to take refuge in this ‘dolly’ for the winter and was usually hung in a farmhouse, barn or church. In the spring the corn dolly would be returned to the fields with the new seasons planting. It was hoped that by returning the ‘Spirit of the Grain’ to the fields the forthcoming crop would be bountiful. 
 
Whatever shape or form the dollies take, the ‘Spirit of the Grain’ is still a potent Pagan custom and magical working. It can represent success and good luck and the hope that the future will be prosperous.  
 
The centuries old local names for corn dollies are :- Cailleach, Clyack, Corn Maiden, Hag, Harvest maid, Ivy girl, Kern Baby (Kirk Baba), Kern Maiden, Maiden, Mell, Mare or Nek (neck). 
 
Other regional designs include Essex Terret, Cambridge Umbrella, Staffordshire Knot, Suffolk Horseshoe, Yorkshire Spiral, Border Fan etc. 
 
The tradition of making straw shapes had largely died out by the beginning of the 20th Century in Britain, probably because of mechanisation of harvesting cereal crops leading to changes to the types of grain used which rendered the straw unsuitable for plaiting. 
 
Nowadays straw suitable for plaiting is generally available only from specialist growers.


 We are a small family business founded at Lake Vyrnwy in Mid-Wales in 1991 with the aim of producing and selling traditional crafts. Our products are made from wool, wood, clay and wheat (corn dollies), all of which come from UK sources. We manufacture knitting and weaving equipment out of wood, rugs and bags out of wool, as well as producing a wide variety of hand spun and knitted items. We also have a variety of felting supplies, including merino tops, felting needles and needle holders. For the full range of products that we manufacture and stock please see the Products and Sales pages of the main website. We are Ashford Dealers and either stock, or can obtain to order, the full range of their equipment. See our Sales page for the full range of products that we currently have in stock. If there is an item, or items, that we do not have on the sales pages, or that show up as out of stock, please email and we can see about getting them (see Contact). We have recently relocated to Stoke-on-Trent where we have an industrial unit where we continue to manufacture our products. There is no public access to this unit so we now rely on selling our goods at events, or on the Internet (see Sales) or through our permanent outlets.
Richard Baddiley
Richard manufactures all of the wooden equipment by hand in our workshop.
Janet Baddiley
Janet is the textile, corn dolly and pottery expert, who produces all of the finished items – from woven wool rugs and bags, to traditionally-made corn dollies, and terracotta worms.
William Baddiley
Graduate of the University of Birmingham and general dogsbody.
Display Corn Dolly
The Guild of Strawcraftsmen
We are members of the Guild of Strawcraftsmen. For more information click the logo.
DOLLIES
5 Straw Twist
Heart Twist
Border Fan - small
Wedding Horseshoe
Sheaf
Corn Maiden
2 straw favour
4 straw favour
5 straw favour
5 straw favour - enhanced
rattle - large
rattle small
Horseshoe - basic
Border fan - large
Horseshoe - crossed
6 Straw twist
Treble clef
Wreath
Pentacle
CONTACT
Want to know more? You can contact us by this form.
CONTACT ADDRESS

Fire and Fibre
1372 Leek Road
Abbey Hulton
Stoke-on-Trent
ST2 8BZ
07837 131997
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