Glencroft has been in the sheepskin and wool industry since we opened in 1987 and Richard has been working in it even longer (since the 1960s in fact!), and yet we still come across some surprising uses for sheepskin we’ve never heard of before. Here are some of our favourite weird and wonderful uses for sheepskin we’ve heard over the years:
1. Sheepskin Paint Pads
This may not seem that surprising to any DIY aficionados amongst you, as traditionally most paint rollers are made from sheepskin, but on occasion we’ve made bespoke sheepskin paint pads. The most interesting was a customer who uses divers to paint boats underwater. Circular pieces of sheepskin which we make to a precise specification are used to apply the paint to the boats, sheepskin holds the paint better than any other material so is perfect for this job. This can be more cost and time effective than a dry dock as the boat doesn’t have to be lifted out of the water. Anyone else thinking of a career change?
2. Sheepskin Yoga
You may have actually heard of this before, as high-profile celebrities such as Demi Moore and Russell Brand have been seen practising Kundalini Yoga. This is a particular type of yoga whose followers use sheepskin mats to form a barrier between the earth’s energy and your own. Even yogis who don’t follow Kundalini Yoga style specifically are coming to favour sheepskin yoga mats. This is because sheepskin has a natural bounce to it and so is more supportive of body movements. This bounce is caused by the natural kink in the sheep’s fleece and the thousands of tiny air pockets within it, which also makes it ideal for exercise as it is breathable (no one wants a sweaty yoga mat). Although many yogis choose to follow a vegetarian lifestyle, they often don’t have a problem with using sheepskin rugs as the skin is a by-product of the meat industry, rather than the animal specifically being bred for its skin.
3. Laws written on Sheepskin
Throughout history important documents have been written onto parchments made from sheepskin, goatskin or calfskin, called ‘vellum’. Animal skin was seen as preferable for recording important laws not only because of tradition, but because it lasts for centuries; the Magna Carta was written on vellum and is still legible 800 years later. Vellum was still used up until 2017 to record British laws, but its high price forced the switch to paper.
4. Medical Sheepskin
Sheepskin is renowned for its medical properties and yet surprisingly few people still know about it. As mentioned earlier, sheepskin has a natural bounce to it which makes it highly supportive for those with sore joints, and it’s often used to cushion crutches and wheelchairs too. Sheepskin also has anti-bacterial properties as sheep’s fleeces have evolved over many years of living outside, in the rain, the sleet and the snow, to keep them dry. This means it inhibits fungi and bacteria, making it popular with people who are bed ridden as a way to prevent bed sores.
5. Sheepskin Rafts
This really is one of the strangest uses of sheepskin we’ve ever heard. In China sheepskin rafts were (and apparently still are) used as transportation on the Yellow River. It wouldn’t look like the kind of sheepskin you or I are used to, as the wool will be fully scraped off and the skin dried before being blown up like a balloon to float on the river. Of course, more than one sheepskin is needed, so a number of these skins will be tied together to form a raft. Though it may not look that safe to us, sheepskin rafts have been used on this river for centuries so the people using them seem to know what they’re doing.
There you have it then, some truly bizarre uses of sheepskin! Who knows, maybe in the future Glencroft will branch out into selling sheepskin rafts and parchment alongside our woolly scarves and slippers. For now though, I think we’ll just stick to selling our nice fluffy sheepskin rugs.