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  The Ba'

Making a Ba'

Orkney man Jim Harrison, shoemaker, creates a Ba

Each Ba' game is played with a new ba', each specially made for the game.

The ba's are handmade by one of a few Orcadian ba' makers and is a piece of exquisite craftsmanship.

The four or five millimetre thick leather panels that make up the ba' case are hand-stitched - it is thought that machine stitching is not dependable and will not stand up to the pressures of the game - and then stuffed with cork dust.

The cork stuffing not only makes the completed ba' hard, but ensures it will float, should it reach the Doonie goal and end up in the sea.

Half of each alternating leather panel is painted black with the remaining panels stained a natural leather colour.

One former ba' maker, Mr Jim Harrison, is recorded as saying it took approximately four days to create one ba' - the stitching alone, he said, could take two days.

A completed Men's ba' weighs about 3 lbs with a circumference of approximately 28 inches. The Boys' Ba' is slightly smaller.

Every year, in the final weeks leading up to each game, the finished ba's are displayed in various shop windows in Kirkwall before being thrown to the pack on Christmas and New Year's Day.