Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Biltmore Industries

This past weekend my fiber group - LINT (Ladies in New Textiles) had the wonderful opportunity to visit the "behind the scenes" of the once very lucrative and well known Biltmore Industries. It is no longer in existence and being able to see the factory rooms and equipment not is use anymore was both eery and exciting. Under the direction and great expertise of Jerry, we were given a guided tour and lots of great stories and information - probably more than our brains could absorb.

We first entered some of these amazing buildings through a back, un-used entrance.
What started out as a cottage industry soon grew to enormous proportions. In the early 1900s, two ladies, Ms. Vance and Ms. Yale - graduates of a missionary college in NY, found their way to Asheville. They decided the youth needed something to keep themselves busy after school. They started a program to teach these young men woodcarving and the women - spinning for the purposes of weaving cloth.
And as many times as I've walked through this door, I've never looked above - it's the Eleanor Vance Building and also known as the popular Grovewood Gallery. The little woodcarvings are some of the things the young men carved years ago.
The unusual roofs were amazing to see and the pictures will probably find their way to a quilt someday.
The first building we entered was also a storage for the building outdoor sculptures featured on the grounds. This building was where yarns were dyed and washed to be used for spinning and weaving.
Susan stood next to one of the vats to give perspective to the size.
And such great antique washing machines, made to handle very large quantities.
And the little white room at the top for the "head guy" to oversee production.
I love all the old walls and peeling paint.
A room kept locked which housed precious formulas, dyes and other auxiliaries used in the process.
and many large looms....

I was fascinated by this very old antique sewing machine.
This room was very depressing but it actually was just used to house the rovings before processing them into yarn.
And the big weaving room with plenty of windows and natural daylight, a plus for keeping workers happy.

Lots and lots of these bags all holding the spindles used in the weaving process.
We were all given one as a little gift to remind us of this wonderful and informative day.

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