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Fine Art Prints - Documentary Photography

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Sisal fibre sun drying, Valente city, Bahia State, Northeast Brazil. Sisal (Agave sisalana) is an agave that yields a stiff fibre traditionally used in making twine, rope and also dartboards. The term may refer either to the plant or the fibre, depending on context. Fibre is extracted by a process known as decortication, where leaves are crushed and beaten by a rotating wheel set with blunt knives, so that only fibres remain. In the drier climate of north-east Brazil, sisal is mainly grown by smallholders and the fibre is extracted by teams using portable raspadors which do not use water. Fibre is subsequently cleaned by brushing. Dry fibres are machine combed and sorted into various grades, largely on the basis of the previous in-field separation of leaves into size groups. Traditionally, sisal has been the leading material for agricultural twine because of its strength, durability, ability to stretch, affinity for certain dyestuffs, and resistance to deterioration in saltwater, but the importance of this traditional use is diminishing with competition from polypropylene and the development of other haymaking techniques, while new higher-valued sisal products have been developed. Apart from ropes, twines, and general cordage, sisal is used in low-cost and specialty paper, dartboards, buffing cloth, filters, geotextiles, mattresses, carpets, handicrafts, wire rope cores, and Macramé. In recent years sisal has been utilized as an environmentally friendly strengthening agent to replace asbestos and fibreglass in composite materials in various uses including the automobile industry. The lower-grade fibre is processed by the paper industry because of its high content of cellulose and hemicelluloses. The medium-grade fibre is used in the cordage industry for making ropes, baler and binder twine. Ropes and twines are widely employed for marine, agricultural, and general industrial use. The higher-grade fibre after treatment is converted into yarns and used by the carpet i