Straw, denotes the stalk on which corn grows, and from which it is separated by threshing.
Straw is an article of extensive utility in rural and domestic economy. - When chopped or cut small, by means of the machine known under the name of Straw-cutter, (to which we refer), it affords a wholesome provender for horses and oxen, especially if it be mixed with green food. It is likewise usefully employed in thatching cottages, houses, and barns. But, as such buildings are liable to be uncovered by violent storms, farmers should, if possible, annually save a sufficient quantity of wheat-straw, in order to be provided against accidents : thus, the necessity of purchasing straw at a high price, or of threshing their wheat at an improper season, may be effectually obviated.
In May, 1798, Mr. Peter Boi-leau, obtained a patent for a new and improved method of manufacturing straw into hats, bonnets, etc. but such privilege having been annulled by a Court of Justice, we shall state the plan on which he proceeds. - The straw is first separated at the joint, and deprived of its external skin or covering; one end of each tube being cut in the form of a pen, so that it may be inserted into the cavity of another ; after which it is immersed in water, to render it pliant, and susceptible of the requisite shape on the block. Next, a small-circle is to be traced on the surface of a wooden mould (having the form of the crown corresponding with the article to be manufactured) ; from which, lines are to be drawn perpendicularly, onally, or in any other direction. At the top of each line must be fixed a nail or pin, to which a double wire should be fastened : the straw is then plaited between such wires, and the ends are joined by introducing the sharp end of one tube into another, till the crown be completed.
For making the brim of the bonnet or hat, a sheet of thick pasteboard must be formed into the requisite shape; lines or curves, similar to those above described, are next to be drawn, and the wires fastened through small holes made at the top. The straw is worked in the same manner as that for the crown ; to which the brim may be attached, cither by continuing the work so as to form one piece, or by sowing both together, and concealing the juncture by a wreath of straw, or any other mode, which fancy may suggest. - See also Paper, vol. iii. p. 337.