PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: I traveled to the old Klotz Throwing Company mill to meet four other photographers. From 1905 to 1957 "throwsters" "threw" silk and synthetics (they twisted or wound raw silk into thread) here. Silk, perhaps the ultimate luxury fabric, became a valuable commodity in the Gilded Age, and silk filatures, where silk cacoons were softened to make raw silk, became a growing U.S. industry. The factory and the process, which involves soaking and steaming as well as spinning, is described here. However, I knew nothing about silk processing last weekend when I had just four hours to take it all in and make something photographic of it.
I don't work well under the pressure of time; the photographic richness of the site and ticking clock could easily lead me to panicked image grabbing. After an initial walk-through of what I thought was the whole, three-floor mill, I had several "must-have," subjects for images. It was a plan to steady me, a way to manage the territory. One of these "must-haves," was the drive wheel and drive system that ran all the machines along the third floor aisle. Once all factory mills were powered this way. I've been in many old mills and never seen so complete a drive system. Although the main belt was missing, everything else was intact down to the individual stations. The mill had for many years been water-powered, and it seems likely these linkages were once water-driven, though I saw no evident source of water power at the mill.
My aim was not merely to take a picture of the drive wheel, but to make a photo image about the drive wheel in the same way that yesterday's photo was about footsteps of throwsters. I spent, perhaps, 40 minutes of my four hours shifting up, down, backward and forward within a few feet of this general location. I wish my images showed more of the belts that connect each row of machines to the drive axle, and I'd love to suggest the agitation of all the machines bobbing together, but I spent my time working out how to arrange the planes and surfaces from this general angle under spring light, such as it was, between 9 AM and 10 AM on June 22nd. Somewhere there has to be an angle, a lens, a quality of light that can capture belts and agitation, but it remains for another visit.
I was pleased to catch the round-bottomed, sand buckets that served as primitive fire extinguishers, but at about 10 AM I moved on to another must-have shot.