Gura Râului Collection of Technical Installations, Sibiu County
Throughout the 18th and 19th century, the fulling mills in Gura Râului, Sadu, Oral, Tălmăcel and other villages around Sibiu have developed and refined techniques by using stock obtained from local sheep farmers. The bountiful textile trade led to the build of more and more wool processing mills. This process was also influenced by the local German community, which contributed greatly to the development of the textile industry.
Featured in the National Village Museum, the Gura Râului collection includes a tub, a thickening basket, a threading cylinder and a fulling mill, each one of them a separate construction.
The frustum-shaped tub where water was poured would spin, blanch and thicken the wool cloths. The thickening basket is a woven wattle cylinder attached to the waterwheel shaft. Having been soaked, the cloths are placed inside. Here, the steam created through the spinning motion of the wheel thickens the cloth and gives it a fluffy texture.
Built between 1876 and 1900, the threading cylinder is a barrel-shaped construction as well. Made entirely of conveyable beams on which the textiles are laid, this waterwheel-run mechanism is triggered by a spindle. As it rotates, it transports the cloth to a nail-covered plank which frays the fabric so as to modify its texture.
The fulling mill dates back to the 19th century and is equipped with eight graded hammers which operate vertically to scour the swell of fabric placed inside the carved hollows of oak trunks. Armed with a spindle that features wooden cranks, the water wheel spins the shanks of the fulling hammers and moves them upwards. As they drop from the mechanism, the hammers take turns scouring the cloth which is engaged in a rotating movement inside the sockets carved from the tree trunk, while simultaneously being soaked in cold and warm water. The process can span across 8 to 14 hours. Upon completion, a new fabric is created. This felt (Romanian: „postav” or „dimie”) is now suitable for fashioning warm winter clothes.