Sunday, December 15, 2013

Skeletons in the Closet

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: In a world of Victorian spindles and knobs, gears and sprockets, these pressure cookers look out of place, and, in fact, I've seen no other photographs of them despite the number of photographers that have passed here. Why is that?

They might be Gothic instruments of torture in a Victorian silk mill mystery, Holmes arriving before the pressure meter that runs from minus 30 through plus 60 has fully reset to an ambiguous zero, and only he knows if the sad victim was steamed like a lobster or slowly depressurized.

How did these serve the more acceptable aims of the silk barons?  Did they set the dyes, or did they shrink and tighten the silk fibers the way the annealer uses moist heat to repair the crystal structure in stressed brass? How little I know about the ways of raw silk! Where would we need to look to find someone who would know how to use this equipment today? The rust and stillness of the mill beg the question.