The Klots Throwing Company – Lonaconing, MD

There's a closed silk throwing (thread spinning) mill located in Lonaconing, MD that is the subject of this project.  I first visited this silk mill in 2012 and have made several return visits (more planned).  This work evolved from what was an initial exploration into this project due to a catalyst.  In the basement of this mill on my first visit I discovered a shipping crate stamped 'DUBOIS'.  There is actually a very distant, familial connection to the area but more importantly this serendipity changed my perception and was the beginning of engaging with developing this work. 

A shipping crate in the basement of the silk mill - a surprising encounter and the catalyst for developing this project

A shipping crate in the basement of the silk mill - a surprising encounter and the catalyst for developing this project

The series is titled "Thrown from the Past" and is about this mill (The Klots Throwing Co.).  The factory was representative of the last century's textile economics enabled by labor displaced from regional coal mines.  The lone remaining mill in Lonaconing is the last, intact silk mill in the United States.  In July, 1957 workers at this mill went home on a Friday afternoon and returned the following Monday to locked factory doors.  Frozen, the building sits today as it did that day in 1957.  Mill operations never resumed although I resist describing the site as abandoned which I know is thought by some to be a desirable trait.  In fact, the mill has an active owner trying to preserve the site.

The narrative in the project is that this is a place frozen in time but not insulated from its effects.  My goal is revealing a collaboration of this place’s past with its present within the flow of time.

It was a place where people worked and where small signs of past lives acted out among the machines can be observed like the debris field of a sunken ship scattered on the ocean floor. The people who were here may have left but they are not unseen. I think these signs invite questions about who was here and meaning from what does endure.  It is statement about a past organized, industry from a different time.  And there are interactions with the present.  Artifacts seen at one time in one place would appear later rearranged, elsewhere; objects like tools, shoes and furniture on one floor of the factory show up later in different places. Objectively, I know that they were moved by current day visitors but want to suggest that less objective influences can be at work rearranging this past.