Friday, July 5, 2013

Idle Maple Swifts

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: All pinions and talons and things arachnid.  Here's a more sober description from 1919, production records of the Klots throwing mill: 

"To remove the sericin coating the filaments, mill workers soaked the skeins for several hours in warm water, with soap, oil, glycerin, perfume and other agents. Water was removed by mechanical extraction, or "whizzing," and the skeins were dried, and stretched around octagonal maple reels, or swifts, supported by elastic cotton bands."

Is that what was done here? How did porcelain guides align with swifts, and why are there swifts on both top and bottom.  How did the swifts look hung with silken skeins?  Who alive today remembers when these were spinning and yet so finely has the maple been turned, fitted, and balanced that the swifts remain straight and can still be set spinning with almost no force. Even the elastic bands are intact despite the leaking roof.  

The boxes with the three finger holes on each side are filled with delicate wooden spools. I wouldn't be surprised to learn there were a hundred-thousand of them; they are everywhere.  

And now I see it is a shot in need of one thing more to connect the work with those who worked here, something found among the abundant props on hand that might have been forgotten here or left for the next day's efforts that day before the strike. A worker who was 20 when the mill closed would be 76 today.