A Sense of Place

– Posted in: Inspiration
Sign on door at Lonaconing

This post is the second in a series about visiting the last intact silk mill in the US. For the first post in the series, click here.

When entering the old mill, I was instantly wrapped in a sense of place, of people leaving and nature entering the old building and reclaiming it.

Lonaconing Silk Mill Facade

Old crumbling walls have attractions for textile artists. We don’t just see something in disrepair, we see the passage of time, the evocation of memory created by patina, the beauty in eroded surfaces etched by weather and accident.

I find myself drawn to these things. My photo archives are full of the textures and lines of buildings and streets, as well as the decay of natures surfaces, leaves, mud, and rocks.

I also think of the principle of wabi-sabi, the Japanese esthetic of seeing beauty in imperfection. Richard Powell distills the concept in his book, Wabi-sabi Made Simple, “Nothing lasts, nothing is finished, nothing is perfect.”

Many windows are broken.

Outside the window

Others stand by.

Old windows at the silk mill

Leaves blow through the open windows.

Leaves on the floor

Keep the machinery oiled.

Oil Cans

Catch any drips.

A leaky valve

Fire is no longer the danger, but the rain is. Such beauty and such sadness.

Fire Bucket

10 Comments… add one
Jeanne Marklin August 20, 2013, 8:20 pm

Carol, the photo’s are very evocative of the place. What wonderful colors and textures you have captured! I’d like to make some fabric with that lovely Gray-blue.

carol August 23, 2013, 1:22 pm

Thanks, Jeanne. that means a lot coming from you!

Lesley Petri August 22, 2013, 5:27 am

What inspiring images. I think everyone should view themselves and their world as imperfect – maybe then we’d all be much happier with ourselves and our life.

carol August 23, 2013, 2:19 pm

As a recovering perfectionist, I love finding the beauty in imperfection.It is more of a challenge to see the imperfect beauty in ourselves, I think.

Joanne ninestine August 29, 2013, 12:45 am

Really nice thought provoking photographs. You’re not only a wonderful quilter, but a great photographer as well. Only you could see that tranquil reflection of the past and compose those pictures. They look like professional photographs. Kudos to you and thanks for sharing

Renate September 15, 2013, 8:30 pm

Carol, I stumbled on your blog after receiving a very eloquent description of your workshops from one of your students. I have just finished reading these two posts of this silk mill and I think it is very very sad that grant money can’t be found. It would be wonderful to see this edifice, if not restored to former glory, at least retained and protected from further decay. This may sound goofy, but even if a drive was made to have people offer to buy a replacement window so that the elements can at least be kept at bay, or a square foot of roofing. (sorry for the long comment, but it broke my heart to see this.

carol September 17, 2013, 9:07 pm

Renate, thanks for stopping by the blog. So often we never think about what went into the making of the materials we love to use. In Lonaconing, there is a wistful sense of unfinished business that is very poignant. I have one more blog post planned in this series.

Tony sweet December 16, 2013, 6:26 pm

Excellent blog, Carol. Herb missed the opportunity to take care of that place many years ago. There is so much roof damage that the grant $$$ would be prohibitive. Maybe there could have been a chance years ago, but even then, the place is so out of the way that one would have to question the efficacy of a grant to fix up an historic building that would probably garner the same clientele as it does now, photographers. Lonaconing has whatever time it has left, and I will be there semi annually until it or I desists. It remains a photographic mecca. Hope to see you and David return with us some time.

carol December 19, 2013, 7:00 pm

To be sure, Tony, preservation dollars are spread very thin now. I am happy to have had the chance to go there, and I hope we can return sometime.

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