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Posts Tagged ‘cotton-spinning mill’

Photo: The Slater Mill, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, bears the name of Samuel Slater, the father of the American Industrial Revolution.

Suzanne is interested in textiles as well as jewelry. (Check out the little purses she had made for Luna & Stella using weavers in Bhutan, here.) So I wasn’t surprised when she passed along an article from the NY Times on the U.S. textile industry today.

It seems that in addition to artists who create textiles for artistic purposes (see yesterday’s post), niche textile businesses still exist in the United States.

Rivka Galchen writes, “In 1776, America didn’t have a single textile mill. There were no spinning mules, no water-powered looms. There were only rumors of what such things might look like … Nearly every American woman, except the wealthiest, knew how to spin her own yarn and weave her own cloth …

“Samuel Slater was 14 when he began working at a cotton-spinning mill in Derbyshire, England. Seven years later, in 1789, he disguised himself as a farmer to pass English customs and board a ship to the United States. When he arrived in America, he got a mechanized loom up and running, then a textile factory and later factory towns, eventually becoming known as both Slater the Traitor and the father of the American Industrial Revolution.”

In 2010, Galchen continues, photographer Christopher Payne “came across a yarn mill in Maine and was transfixed by the way it seemed to exist both in the past and the present; it became the first textile mill he photographed.” He has since photographed more than 20.

“Langhorne Carpet Company, in Penndel, Pa., used to share its building with a hosier, but that business closed long ago. … On the day I visited, a young man in a hooded sweatshirt and jeans was making a five-color runner on one of the narrow looms, while an older man in a denim smock was restringing a broad one; 5,040 spools of yarn needed to be knotted on.

“ ‘We’ve stayed in business because we’ll take a 20-yard order, that’s our niche,’ said Langhorne’s president, Bill Morrow, whose grandfather and great-grandfather founded the company in 1930. … Langhorne has made reproductions of historic carpets for the Frederick Douglass house in Washington; the Congress Hall of Philadelphia; and the Rutherford B. Hayes home in Fremont, Ohio. …

“Langhorne employs about 40 people, whom it trains in-house. When a machine needs a new part, it is specially forged. ‘We’ve bought a lot of [our] machinery from other companies that have closed down,’ Morrow said.” More here.

Kind of nice to know that not all manufacturing has gone overseas. American ingenuity still can create jobs doing specialty work, training people in-house.

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