Posts tagged ‘History’

July 22, 2011

Friday Field Trip::Tudor Place

by heatherkp

While I’m away in NC I’ll leave you with one more post and a field trip my Mom treated me to a few weeks ago.  Tudor Place is right in the heart of Georgetown, just blocks away from the shopping and dining district.  Even though I’ve lived in the DC metro practically my entire life I can’t say I’d driven by or even heard much about this little jem of a museum.  This is a private museum with both house and garden tours available.  The garden tour is free and open to the public almost every day.  The house tour is the real treat though.  What is amazing is that all the items in the house are family heirlooms and antiques of origional provenance to this family home.  The home was built by the grandaughter of George and Martha Washington, Martha Custis Peter, and her husband, Thomas Peter.  It was lived in as a private residence by several generations of the family for over 180 years until it was turned into a museum (by family trust) in 1988.  If you like history and historic preservation you will want to see this museum home.

I couldn’t help but sneak in one little picture inside…

and I might have pinched a small bit off this stunning coleus that I’d never seen before.  Have you seen this one?  Apparently there are hundreds if not thousands of cultivars of coleus!

I’m not sure of the provenance of the garden but it seemed to contain many plants that would have been used in the historic period of the homes use.  I wish I knew more about this plant which I’d never seen before.  It smells heavenly, like Jasmine and the flowers open a beautiful deep lavender and fade as they mature to white, isn’t that different (it seems that colors in plants usually intensify)?   I would love to find this plant but I don’t think I could maintain it indoors without having good light or a green house.  Have you ever seen Brunfelsia astralias?  It comes up under rare plants!  What a joy to have seen and smelled it in bloom.

January 7, 2011

Friday Fieldtrip::Covered Bridges

by heatherkp

This Friday I’m sharing with you the trip we took last week over New Years to visit a friend.  On our return home we took Highway 30 aka Lincoln Hwy and made quite a few stops to see restored covered bridges.

This stretch of the highway took us through mountains and there was a lot of fog and mist since the temperatures were in the 50’s but there was still snow on the ground.

It was erie and overcast and moody and beautiful!

Don’t you love covered bridges?  Finding them is like finding a well kept secret.

We also stopped along the way at the Flight 93 memorial (Shanksville, PA) which was sad but also good reminder and I’m glad to know they are creating this memorial.  The first phase will be done this 9-11 (for the 10 yr anniversary).

It was a great way to start the new year.

December 21, 2010

Spotlight::Our American Textile Heritage~Churchill Weavers

by heatherkp

Advertisement showing the front exterior of the Churchill Weavers loomhouse.

Before weaving begins, a warp or vertical the threads of the loom must be made. Weft threads are woven through the warp threads using the loom and shuttle. ca. 1928

 

Churchill Weaver’s stereocard advertisement, style 15319R.

I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to work for some US textile manufacturing facilities my career, some of which are no longer in existence and some that no longer manufacture in the US.  Starting right out of college I landed a job at one of the oldest and finest Hand weaving mills in the US.  I’m speaking of the late Churchill Weavers of Berea, KY.  Once so valued for their products that the US military spared wool rations so they could weave woolen undergarments for our military men.  It greatly depresses me to see their beautifully woven products now being sold as “rare” on Ebay!  There were a number of factors that went into the final outcome of Churchill’s doors being closed forever but they didn’t go down without a long battle.  Historical textiles from their archives were salvaged and donated to the Kentucky Historical Society.  They have compiled quite an amazing online Archive, accessible to anyone!

Churchill Weaver’s stereocard advertisement, style 15451.

Woven Panel made by Churchill Weavers and Designed by Gerhardt Knodel ca. 1978

One of the valuable lessons I learned working at Churchill is that there is no substitution for learning about business and technical data at a facility that manufactures rather than being miles and oceans away from the products you design.  If you’d like more information on the fascinating history of Churchill, please check out this blog.  A limited selection of baby blankets with original Churchill designs are available here.  I’m proud to share below a few of the items I had a part in designing!

I knew when I graduated from college in 1998 with a degree in Fibers (textile design) that it would not be an easy career choice.  I headed ambitiously into the profession knowing that the beginning of the end (as I had come to understand it) was already in sight.  Shortly after graduating I started seeing the full effects of the “global”market’s influence on the industry.  First the mills began to run shorter shifts, sell off machinery and start to outsource manufacturing to foreign mills.   Within the first 5 years of my career I had gone from designing for high end luxury goods manufactured in the USA to designing mass produced goods being imported.  I had a hard time with the ethics of this but I needed to stay employed and by then I was beginning to see my friends design jobs being eliminated as their companies not only shut down manufacturing facilities but started to hire off site designers and design studios in other countries.  I started to see another trend that was quite maddening.  Before I say more this observation is not singularly in regards to the textile industry.  It is the mis-informed “American way” to throw something way when it’s broken (or just worn out)! So often we don’t er trying to fix it because it seems far easier and cheaper to just start all over.  This is so maddening!  Can’t we learn from those around us who have invested so much time and energy to make something special?  Okay, sometimes new life needs to be blown in but there is often so much we can learn from these establishments.

It was also about this time (early 21st cent) I really became aware of the “Indy craft” movement.  I started seeing all sorts of crafters, makers and designers pop up on the http://www.  In response to this I also saw a few new kinds of manufacturing facilities in the US who were responding to the needs of these independent makers.  I’m speaking of textile print on demand (such as Spoonflower and others) and weaving mills in particular but I’m sure there are lots of other examples by now.  This was very encouraging to me on the one hand but also frustrating because we had already begun to loose so many older manufacturers.  I often think that if the two generations had found a way to communicate with one another some very unique solutions could have come about and kept some companies afloat.  I do think that there are some companies in the industry who did respond in this manner and I see them now as established and valued but also aware of new and upcoming trends.  My request to you is this; if you are a maker, manufacturer, lover of all things handmade and you are working in the US please consider the source of your purchase and support our US heritage of manufacturing. We can’t bring back these historic and iconic facilities but we can learn so much from them by informing ourselves and making the most of our purchases now.