Being a member of Rugby Theatre makes you do daft things, the most recent for me is taking on Props for Whistle down the wind to be staged 8th -15th June. One of the items on the props list is straw bales for the barn scene. Easy you may think just buy a bale or two and put them on stage. Not possible because of fire regulations, so I did a bit of research on the web (what did props folk do before the net?) and found the blog of Jessie, a professional, who said she would never put hay or straw on stage because of allergies never mind fire regs. She uses raffia.
When asked, half the cast put up there hands to say they had hay fever including our leading man who spends a significant part of the show laying in the hay, well he is Jesus, isn't he?
So that is why I have had to fire proof mountains of raffia and am now using the frame of my long arm to hand sew (because I found my hopping foot isn't high enough for the depth of all that raffia) a messy looking straw bale. I will then have to attach it to a covered wooden box. I am actually quite pleased with how it looks so far.