Working Looms of Greenfield Village
8 artifacts in this set
The Greenfield Village Weaving Shop demonstrates the evolution of textile production from the colonial home and craft shop, through the Industrial Revolution to commercial factory. Housed in a converted 1840s Georgia cotton mill, the Weaving Shop contains a number of working looms, including one of the few operating mechanical Jacquard looms in North America.
This timber frame loom is the type used by American colonists to produce fabrics for clothing, table and bed linens, and utilitarian items like towels and sacks. Hand weaving was labor intensive, so these textiles were among the most valuable household items. Many weavers were professionals, weaving at home or in a small workshop, but some families also had looms to produce their own cloth.
This loom, made in Greenfield Village in the early 1930s, has a special attachment--a flying shuttle. Developed in the 1730s, the flying shuttle dramatically increased weavers' output. This device allowed weavers to send the shuttle, which carries the thread, back and forth using only one hand. With a flying shuttle, weavers could produce wider, better-quality cloth more quickly and with less effort.
Joseph-Marie Jacquard's loom, first developed in 1801, is programmable. It used a series of punched cards to control the lifting of each individual warp thread to weave a figured fabric. With this loom, weavers could create intricate patterns more easily, faster, and with better accuracy. Punch card technology became the basis for computer data storage during the 20th century.
Power looms, introduced in American textile mills in the 1810s, completely mechanized the weaving process. This 1926 example was originally used at Ford Motor Company's Highland Park assembly plant to produce prototype seating upholstery for Model Ts. Driven by electricity and using up to six flying shuttles, which carry the thread, it can weave complex fabrics at about 25 feet per hour.
By the 1920s, most everyday items were made in factories by machines rather than by hand. Some people began to appreciate and revive traditional handcrafts like weaving. Artisan and hobby weavers purchased looms to create woven goods at home. The owner of this loom produced household textiles and other fabrics for home use and for sale, to supplement his family's income.
Combining handcraft with advanced technology, dobby looms became popular when hand weaving experienced a revival beginning in the 1960s and 1970s. The dobby mechanism, adapted from power looms used in factories, creates the weaving pattern. This allows weavers to produce complex textiles more quickly and easily. Dobby looms appealed to artisan and craft weavers producing fabrics for individual customers, specialty shops, or art fairs.
Dobby looms combine handcraft with advanced technology. This loom's dobby -- the mechanism that creates the weaving pattern -- is controlled by an attached computer running a weaving software program. It is a small, portable loom, designed to break down easily for travel to and from weaving workshops. Products might include narrow textiles such as scarves or table runners.