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Why do possum fur throws and blankets cost so much?

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I’ve had this conversation with a lot of customers lately, so I hope that the following information will help to clarify some of the issues facing the possum fur industry at present.

Where to start? As any New Zealander will tell you, possum are an invasive introduced species that has bred out of control and is the single largest cause of destruction to our native bush, bird and insect life.

They say there are about seventy to eighty million possums in New Zealand but the truth is that know body really knows how many there are. What I can tell you is that even though possums seem to be everywhere, even in our own back yard, the trappers need to go deep into rugged terrain, into the remote forest regions, often by helicopter to get to where the best possums really are.

Natural dark reddish brown New Zealand possum
Natural dark reddish brown New Zealand possum

So if there are so many possums why are the skins so expensive? Well there are quite a few reasons actually. Let’s tackle them one at a time.

Think about the logistics of dropping men into the bush by helicopter for a week at a time, with all their camping gear, food and equipment. It takes a tough bloke to do a job like that. The prime furs can only be collected at certain times of the year; you need to avoid the moulting season and also the mating season. The weather in New Zealand is as unpredictable and can make these flights dangerous and unpredictable.

The single biggest change to the industry in the last five years or so is the growing market for the plucked possum fur fibre (fluff). This year (2011) the price for plucked fur fluff per kilo reached an all time high. The possum fluff is mixed with merino wool to make beautiful possum merino knitwear clothing and accessories.

I have heard that China is buying as much fur fluff as they can lay their hands on by the container load. This is creating a high demand for this unique New Zealand only product. For many years we resisted selling to China, but it only took one person to give in and say yes and start to sell to the much larger market and then the rest of the tanneries/trappers had to follow or go broke.

I think it is sad that New Zealand is selling the fluff off-shore at all; possum products and possum merino wool products where the one truly unique product that no other country could make. The cost of New Zealand manufactured knitwear is increasing because of the increased cost of the possum fur fluff, and soon we will see China trying to sell it back to us as finished goods.

Two unidentified men with a substantial opposum catch. Date approx 1930.
Two unidentified men with a substantial opposum catch. Date approx 1930.

So now back to our original question about the cost of the possum fur blankets and throws. What all that means is that the tanneries have to pay the trappers an even higher per skin price to make them bring the prime winter fur skins out of the bush at all. Otherwise all the trappers only collect the fur fluff because it is easier to deal with; lighter and they can get a great price per kilo. We have experienced two major price increases this year due to these factors.

To make matters worse the whole process of tanning leather with fur on is messy, time consuming and labour intensive taking a minimum of two weeks from start to finish and including a lot of manual hands-on work that can not be done well by a machine. As a side note, recently there was also a worldwide spike in the cost of the tanning chemicals. I’m not sure why but I know that this has also affected my international leather tannery suppliers for the cowhide rugs and other leather items results in price increases overall.

So at the end of the day the cost of possum fur throws and blankets will continue to increase as the worldwide market demand for the fur fluff increases. So if like some of my recent customers you have been thinking about buying yourself a gorgeous possum fur sofa throw or bed blanket and have been putting it off, do not hesitate, order it today because who knows what the price will look like tomorrow!

by Kirsty Mason from Gorgeous Creatures. This article is copyrighted ©2011 and can not be reproduced in any way without permission of the author. Especially by the writers from http://www.ehow.com who have copied other articles of mine and called it their own.

#possum #possumfur #nzpossum #possummerino

So what is a cowhide stitched rug?

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www.gorgeouscreatures.co.nz

It is a rug made from pieces of cowhide sewn together with either straight or zigzag stitch and backed with a non-slip padded rug backing. Once upon a time the only designs that where available used simple squares sewn together, and this is still a popular look, however now there is so much more than can be done with the design of a cowhide stitched rug.

Black stitched cowhide rug from Gorgeous Creatures
Black stitched cowhide rug from Gorgeous Creatures

Some of my favourite designs use smaller rectangles laid up like brick-work or shapes that look like marble or wood paving. Strips of cowhide sewn together also look amazing, especially in pale beige and cream colours. And smaller 5cm squares look incredible using similar shades of all the same colour like shades of grey or shades of brown.

A cowhide stitched rug is a way of injecting some cowhide into your interior without having the natural cowhide shape. They are also great when a natural cowhide would not be big enough like under a large dining table or in a large lounge. Some people simply prefer the straight edge lines of a cowhide stitched rug as apposed to the natural curvy form of a natural shaped cowhide.

We have uploaded some photos to our photo gallery and samples will be in our showroom for viewing from the end of April onwards. New Zealand and Australian customers please contact us if you would like a quote for a cowhide stitched rug from Gorgeous Creatures.

Coffee and coconut truffles recipe

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Here is a wonderful recipe perfect for Christmas parties and sure to impress your guests. Merry Christmas from Gorgeous Creatures.

Coffee & Coconut Truffles

Makes about 30 truffles

Truffle

¾ cup of desiccated coconut

1 dessert spoon instant coffee

115gms butter

1 ½ cups icing sugar

¾ cup rolled oats

1 tea-spoon rum & butter essence

Toppings

Dark chocolate buttons melted (for coating truffles later) or use milk or white chocolate if preferred

1 large table spoon Kremelta (vegetable shortening – to go with chocolate)

Glazed cherries cut in half (for coating later)

Method

Cream the butter & sugar using an electric beater until pale. Add the rest of the truffle ingredients (except chocolate, Kremelta & cherries). Mix together well. Using wet hands roll into balls about the size of a marble. Put onto grease-proof paper and refrigerate until firm.

Melt the chocolate & Kremelta in a double boiler pot over a low heat. Dip each truffle ball (hardened in fridge first) into warm chocolate and then put back onto the grease-proof paper tray. I find it easiest to drop each truffle ball into the chocolate one at a time and fish them out straight away with a teaspoon. Put a half glazed cherry on top for decoration.

Refrigerate until the chocolate hardens. Store in an airtight container in the fridge but I promise they won’t last long; your family and friends will eat them all!!! For fun you can substitute the instant coffee for peppermint essence and have after dinner truffles!

Gorgeous Creatures coffee and coconut truffles

Two new rug shipments in the showroom now

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Cowhide rugs

We have just received a new cowhide shipment full of lovely black and white, chocolate brown and white and natural warm black cowhide rugs. There are a variety of sizes from quite small to nice and large. They will be uploaded to the new website as soon as possible but get in fast to have first pick of the new rugs. If you have been waiting for a particular colour please let me know and I can include your request in my next shipment.


Calf skins

Large New Zealand calf skins with longer hair have just arrived. This includes some rare black and white calf skins. In New Zealand most dairy cows are now a cross breed between Friesians and Jerseys. This is why so many of our dairy calves are chocolate brown and white, not black and white.

Cowhide printed zebra’s

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This week we have had a run on cowhide printed zebra’s. I’ve had three enquiries, two from interior designers and a man who contacted me all the way from Tahiti by email. While on business in Auckland he made a special trip to our showroom and bought a cowhide zebra to take back to his wife in Tahiti. There are no issues to take cowhide rugs overseas, the leather is professionally tanned just like a leather jacket or leather shoes.

Cowhide printed zebra

Debandada morphs into Gorgeous Creatures

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Welcome to the new Gorgeous Creatures (formally Debandada Cowhide & Possum Fur) blog. I guess that the biggest news so far this year is that we are doing a complete re-brand including a name change and a whole new fresh look and feel. So within a few weeks the website will change to reflect this new branding. New business cards are being printed and new signage commissioned.
new gorgeous creatures logo

Why are we changing our name? Well the name Debandada has always been a bit difficult to say, spell and remember. Debandada is Portuguese for “Stampede” and suited us back in the days when we only sold cowhide rugs.

Even though Debandada is actually a phonetic name (say it like you read it), because it wasn’t English, people seemed to doubt themselves and fancy it up to sound a bit French or Spanish, or they simply stopped half way through the word, stuttering and looking a bit embarrassed. After nearly six years my own mum couldn’t even say it properly every time!

And if someone can’t remember, say or spell your business name then they can’t refer their friends or business colleagues to you, and that’s not good! Or even find you again!

We weren’t getting mentioned in magazine as much as we would like even if our cowhide or possum fur was pride of place in the middle of a beautiful photograph of a room setting, most likely because there was doubt as to the spelling of the brand name (or the owners simply couldn’t remember).

So other than the say/spell/remember issue, we are also selling so much more than just cowhide now. So that’s another driving point behind the name change.

So a fresh start for a new decade. Onward and upward for us here at Gorgeous Creatures.