It is always fun to go behind the scenes and twice in the last few months I’ve been honored to do just that at Greenfield Village. Local weaving couple Chris and Richard Jeryan have been volunteering at the Village for the last several years. Richard retired from Ford (where he worked across the road from the museum complex) last year and they both upped their volunteer time to help make a dream come true: to get more of the looms working, especially the Jacquard loom. Slowly this is becoming a reality. Since their involvement, the weavers have been doing more weaving on textiles for use around the Village, including rugs and toweling. Interpreters are currently making “bed rugs” aka rectangular wool shawls at the Daggett House, a pre-revolutionary homestead at the sound end of the village. Research is underway to find and make a historically correct rug for the Firestone House. But, while all this is well and good, their real passion is the Jacquard. It was first thought that the Jacquard loom was brought by Henry Ford to the Village, but Chris found blueprints for it and learned that it was commissioned by Henry Ford and built by his workers. They also built a card punching machine to support it. In addition to the Jacquard, there are many two and four shaft looms, a spinning jenny, a twenty-four shaft power loom and a room devoted to knitting machines, both flat and hose type knitters.
In the early days of the Village school children learned to weave on a small rigid heddle looms specially built for them and high schoolers apprenticed to a commercial weaving venture where textiles were produced for sale. We visited the Benson Ford Research Center (part of The Henry Ford Complex along with Greenfield Village, the Henry Ford Museum, and the Rouge Plant Tour) and were able to see textiles from this commercial weaving venture. My dream is to resurrect the patterns for these textiles and make them available to modern day weavers.
Following are photos from my first visit in August with Christel and Mariah and my second visit with Anne Field earlier this week.
The head of the Jacquard loom as seen on the second floor of the weaving shop. Pictured L to R, Chris Jeryan, Anne Field, Richard Jeryan.
The Jacquard Loom viewed from the “draw boy’s” perspective. It is partially threaded for weaving a pattern – the plastic bags at the top are holding yet-to-be-threaded linen draw cords that will allow the pattern to develop as the weaving is done. This is a 600 head Jacquard, meaning that 600 different threads can be manipulated individually. Look waaay down on the lower level and you can see the warp on the loom ready to be threaded.
The head viewed from above. Can you count to 600?
The punched cards lined up and ready to weave . . . or they were the last time the loom was used many years ago!
This is the card punch machine that makes the pattern cards used for weaving. Each of the holes in the card tell a group of threads to do something. That “something” ultimately turns into the pattern in the fabric.
Cubbies full of little looms once used to teach elementary students to weave.
This is one of the working looms on the first floor, public area of the weaving shop. It is a “barn loom,” so called because the construction is like that used to build a barn! This loom is equipped with a fly shuttle mechanism – that’s what the handle attached to the rope in the middle of the picture is. A linen pattern was being woven.
The mystery loom that’s hidden away in the carding mill attic. My theory is that it is a converted small 4-shaft loom trying to grow up to be a draw loom of some sort.
Some pattern notes are well recorded, others aren’t. These are for the woven bands pictured on the right. The following are just a few samples of the woven cloth in the archives.
Finally, once upon a time I studied photography and I still like to play around with the camera. These are some of my fun shots from my two visits. Mulberry trees in the Village and a spinning jenny (6-head) in the weaving shop.
We’ll keep you posted on the progress. In the meantime, do get out to the museum complex and spend some time. If you haven’t been there in a long time, you’ll be surprised at how great it looks and what you’ll learn.