Lowell is Looming!

Weave Room at the Boott Cotton Mills

Apologies for the pun, but, this long hard winter will come to an end, the snow will melt, the trees will bud out and the flowers will bloom, and Early American Industries Association members will gather for our 2019 Annual Meeting May 15th thru May 18th, 2019.  If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to register on line or get your registration form completed and mail it in!  We’ve got a great program lined up for you with plenty of opportunities for hands on learning.  Click on this link to register for the meeting or to learn more about the wide variety of lectures, workshops, tours, and demonstrations that will take place during the meeting, https://eaiainfo.org/news-events/annual-meetings/2019-annual-meeting/. A couple of the workshops are already full, but there’s still time to sign up and try your hand at blacksmithing, cross stitch, plaster casting, and 19th century candy making.

The Moses Wilder Blacksmith Shop
Figure 1. The Moses Wilder Blacksmith Shop Where You Can Spend TIme Learning at the Anvil and the Forge.

There are also lots of lectures and demonstrations that are free and open to everyone attending the meeting. Lowell, America’s first planned industrial city was the center of cotton cloth production in the 19th century, so there are lots of opportunities to learn about the fascinating history of Lowell, the weaving industry and Lowell’s strong history as a training ground for American machinists. In addition, we’ve put together a great series of workshops, lectures, demonstrations and fun!

The meeting will start on Wednesday may 15th will tailgating in the parking lot at the Westford Regency Inn & Conference Center (https://www.westfordregency.com/) , our home base for this year’s meeting.  On Thursday we’ll spend the day in Lowell, Massachusetts visiting the Lowell National Historic Park https://www.nps.gov/lowe/index.htm.  We’ll visit the Boot Mill complex with its wonderful in-house museum. We’ll spend some time at the New England Quilt Museum with their wonderful collection of early American quilts, and we’ll have a special boat tour of the extensive canal system that provided the power for the mills of Lowell.

Detail from an early 19th century quilt from the New England Quilt Museum
Figure 2. Detail From an Early 19th Century Quilt from the New England Quilt Museum

It will be a great day filled with history and learning. Thursday night we’ll puzzle each other with “Whatsits” while we enjoy some New England desserts. So bring along that tool you have pondering and just can’t quite figure out. We’ll see if together we can identify it.

On Friday there are 16 different lectures, demonstration, workshops, and tours that will capture your attention and provide you with multiple opportunities to try your hand at a new skill, and enjoy learning more about America’s industrial history.  It will be a veritable playground for history and handcraft aficionados.   After a full day of fun on Friday you can enjoy a great auction of antique tools put on at the hotel by Jim Gehring and the team from Brown Tool Auctions.

Richard Wright colonial blacksmith
Figure 3. Richard Wright Colonial Blacksmith Will be Demonstrating on Saturday Morning.

  On Saturday we’ll trade tools, and enjoy some wonderful displays put together by EAIA members.  The display theme this year is Fiber Arts and Machine Tools.  It’s a broad category and encompasses so many different tools.  There will no doubt be some amazing displays and we look forward to seeing have you bring a display and share your collecting passion and knowledge with us. Saturday morning will also give you the chance to watch blacksmith Richard Wright at work at a forge similar to those used by colonial blacksmiths in the 18th century. You can also sample some homemade ice cream made in an old-fashioned ice cream maker running off a hit and miss engine.  There will be a stationary steam engine on display and who knows what other surprises await you on Saturday morning. On Saturday afternoon we’ll hear from one of the “Mill Girls” who provided the labor in the Lowell weaving mills. 

John Deere Hit & Miss Engine Running an Ice Cream Freezer
Figure 4. John Deere Hit & Miss Engine Running an Ice Cream Freezer. We’ll Get to Sample the ice Cream!

            We’ll end our meeting with the always fun Silent Auction.  Please consider bringing a donation for the Silent Auction since it is the major fund raiser for EAIA’s annual budget.  Everyone loves to see our talented members display their talents with their donations to the Silent Auction.  You can relax at the banquet, enjoy a great meal and we promise we’ll quickly get through our Annual Meeting.  We will top of the evening with a fascinating astronomy lecture put on by two real live astronomers in period costume using a set of extremely rare moveable magic lantern slides. 

            We promise lots of history, camaraderie, learning, friendship and just plain fun!  Sign up! We look forward to seeing you there!  

by Paul Van Pernis

Early Lathe from the Lowell Machine Shop
Figure 5. An Early Lathe from the Lowell Machine Shop on Display in the Boott Mill Museum


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