Historical information

Jackie Kerin's (donor's) story.
In 1973, I was in my late teens and while I’d moved to Sydney from Melbourne, to begin my first year of drama studies at the National Institute of Dramatic Art. My parents had moved to Lake Bunga, a few kilometers north of Lakes Entrance (Victoria). On my first holiday visit to Bunga, I called into the Jolly Jumbuck Country Craft Centre in Bairnsdale http://jumbukwool.com.au/history. I was entranced by the place and spent the following weeks learning to spin lumpy wool on an Ashford Wheel.

By the end of the holidays, I had my own Ashford and it travelled with me back to Sydney.

After graduation, I returned to Melbourne and the hippy “back to nature” movement was in full swing; there were many shops and galleries selling handmade woollen items and pottery etc. So I found an outlet for my pieces.

Sometime in 1976-77, I met a spinner and weaver of Swiss origin (I think) – her name was Ingeborg Guber (not sure of the spelling). She had a small gallery/shop at Brighton Beach where she worked, with her pet duck for company.

Ingeborg had an upright Philip Elford wheel; an Australian wheel crafted from Acacia melanoxylon (blackwood). I was smitten and ordered one. I have a memory of Philip driving to Hampton from Ballarat to make the delivery.

I used this wheel for years but as time and enthusiasm for spinning waned, the wheel became a decorative item in the house. Then in the 90s, and with my drama training, I set myself up travelling to schools and festivals, museums and galleries as a storyteller. The spinning wheel had a new life accompanying me on my adventures. For many children, familiar with references to spinning in fairy tales, seeing the little Philip Elford upright was magical.

The wheel was donated to the National Wool Museum in 2021.

Physical description

Vertical tripod leg spinning wheel. 6 spoke wheel with three bobbins.
Inscription “Philip Elford Ballart” can be read in gold text stamped to the base of the wheel.

Inscriptions & markings

Wording, stamped, gold.
Philip /
Elford /