The Mystery Unravels…

Well, tomorrow at this time we will be pulling into Mystic for our first stop on the way to the island. And so it is fitting to use this last blog post before the show to catch you up on the investigation into that carving on the spinning wheel at the Mystic Seaport Museum.

THIS JUST IN…

Remember this painting…

The Spinning Loft

And do you remember the detail shot of the carving on this large wheel in the foreground

Well, Follansbee and Co have uncovered some information that brings us closer to solving the riddle of who might have carved it and what building would it have been.

I want to introduce you to Paula Marcoux…her delicious website is here…click.

PAULA

Marcoux

Writer
Speaker
Consultant
teacher

I’m a food historian who consults with museums, film producers, publishers, and individuals.

My training is in archaeology and cooking, and I enjoy applying the knowledge of past cooks and artisans to today’s food experience.

My work is exploring bygone pathways of food history and culture, through building, experimenting, playing, and eating. 

I’ve known of her through Peter, and following her on social media, but we haven’t yet met.

So Peter reaches out to his Plymouth pals and they do what they do best…research stuff.
I’m going to copy the thread of their discoveries here, with permission of the author, and then the caveat that she made me promise to include will be there at the end. Clearly these people are driven by brilliant minds, and their super powers are curiosity.

From Peter then Paula,

PF -So the question is:
Is the graffiti scratched into this equipment at Mystic, originally from Cordage park, real? Is that a building somewhere around Cordage?

Who would know?

PM -I will want to read her blog later carefully—but yes what mystic exhibits is one third of Plymouth Cordage’s rope walk.

PM -The builidng in the graffiti (which IS fascinating) looks to be a wharfside structure, right? The ell to the right is on pilings over the water. Plymouth Cordage was situated to take advantage of Plymouth’s best natural channel—a piece of relatively navigable water called the Town Guzzle. Certainly long gone by the time of this image around 1900:\https://digital.hagley.org/AVD_1982_231_016

If you look at this map, you can see how the walk was situated….(here’s a clip) I would guess that the building pictured would be between the place it was carved in the ropewalk building and the harbor.

There are other 19th c images I’ll poke around for later

Then Peter assumes he has satisfied my tasking him to get the skinny…

PF – (satisfied) my debt to Heather that is…god knows what I owe PM now…

Then…

PM – Also January 25, 1867 — the storehouse at the Cordage Works was “blown down” in a gale and a lot of damage was done to wharves…. that could have been the end of that building (WT Davis, Memories, p 221) 

And again a day later…

PM – In its earliest iteration the Cordage consisted of a rope-walk, wharf, storehouse and other buildings (incorporated August 1824). 

Huge expansions came  by the late 30s, with the adoption of steam power, but the walk itself might function the same regardless of power source.
I can see from the same source that two Carrs (Andrew and Patrick) had been working for the Cordage for decades by 1900 —then both around middleaged and having started working there young — Patrick at 9). 
My money that a little more research will suggest their father, Belfast emigrant William Thomas Carr, produced these graffiti after lunch on August 4th, 1851, while his foreman was out sick with “a summer complaint, brought on by eating blackberries and cream”. Okay, we probably won’t get to that satisfying a level of detail. But the first two paragraphs are documented at least.
And quickly after I asked if I could share this here…

PM –

Sure, Heather, with the proviso that it is very “tossed-off” and incomplete—I should be working on my own problems, but I get so sucked into these kinds of questions (in case that’s not apparent) but I’m always surprised when others are interested. And although I was joking about the elder Mr. Carr from Belfast, I would not be shocked if I could get a little further with his identity—the Cordage was great at record-keeping. In it’s first fifty years at least it was the very model of a paternalistic enterprise — its founder had very high ideals and took a distinct interest in the welfare of the workers and their families. 

Here’s the bibliography so far. (There are lots more cordage publications, too, that I haven’t looked into yet.):

The Plymouth Cordage Company; Proceedings at Its Seventy-fifth Anniversary

By Plymouth Cordage Company (1900)

 

Plymouth Memories of an Octogenarian

By William Thomas Davis

 

History of the Town of Plymouth

By James Thacher

Now wasn’t that cool to learn about ?
I know, me too, I love the library at our fingertips time we live in.

And I love that all these people are making their livings today by dabbling in centuries old traditions and crafts.

If you want to learn more about such endeavors,
I encourage you to start by doing some of you own research,
and I’ll make it really easy for you…
Visit their website Plymouth Craft…by clicking here.

Good people
doing meaningful work

and teaching others
and passing it on.
It takes a village and I’m grateful to Paula for taking the time to provide us with some answers. When I get home, I’m going to follow the breadcrumbs she’s left.
Thanks to all of you for tuning in.
And thanks to  Liquid Web 
for making this blog work like lightening.
Now that this thing can keep up with me I will be posting more regularly.
Stay frosty out there and I’ll let you know when the brushes are once again…flying.

The Spinning Loft

The Spinning Loft  –  30 x 40

This one got personal.
I am a spinner.

We have one more stop to make in Mystic.
A short walk from the Morgan is a lonnnnnng building

And this is the Spinning Loft,
below which is the Ropewalk at the Mystic Seaport Museum.
There is a short video ...click here...which shows a bit of what this room was all about,
and you can read more of it’s history there as well.

But it really is worth a visit to let all your senses dive into this space.
Resonant with the century old aromas of hemp and salt air,
the velvety soft patine of well worn wooden surfaces,
the sensuous flow of the carded fiber,
it positively sings history.

The perspective isn’t skewed, this building is really 250 ft long,
and it was only one section of the original Plymouth Cordage Company,
which operated until the mid-1900’s and was then moved to the Mystic village.

Here are some close up shots to lure you into the lusciousness of the fibers…

and the long walk back in technology…

And there’s a mystery…

As is so often the case,
when I returned from one of several visits to the museum
and reviewed the thousands of reference photos,
I spied this carving on the giant spinning wheel.

Those frisky muses.

Round about my birthday,
the Follansbee came through on his trek to teach some woodworking down south,
and, being a carver of woody things,
I showed him this part of the painting,
whereupon he said that Plymouth Cordage used to be a company town built around the rope making industry.

I went down a serious rabbit hole after googling it.
I’ll leave those historic details dangling for anyone interested in doing their own research,
but the point here is that many of the old buildings remain in town.

These Painter’s Notes will serve as a reminder to Peter that he said he would look into seeing if anyone in those parts recognizes the building from this carving…
well…from my rendering of the carving.

That should be sorta fun.

For me,
it’s all about the peaceful art…
of spinning.

 

 

 


Follansbee for Sale

Taking a quick break from the easel to alert my readers to this flash sale…

Peter just put a whole bunch of spoons, furniture and even carved knives up for sale on his blog… Click Here To See

These are all one of a kind pieces from the Master Carver Himself…

And they won’t last long.. so if you are interested I encourage you to click on over to his blog asap.

You are most welcome.


All my bags are packed…

Oversouth Willow

I’m ready to go…

with a HUGE thanks to Alex for his help this morning,
and all summer,
the trailer is now packed with
the paintings for the Granary Show !

We head out before his Ma’s crows get wind of
tomorrow’s sunrise.

First stop, The Follansbees,
where we will get to see his new workshop
and enjoy some time with the family.

Then a hop skip and a jump over to Wood’s Hole
and all aboard we get on the ferry
to the little island of Martha’s Vineyard.

I want to thank you all for the many kinds words
of support and encouragement in response to
this year’s body of work.

I can’t tell you enough
what a difference it makes.

When our heads can fit back into the studio door,
I’ll check back in and let you know how the movie premere
went, and how goes the show.

Meanwhile,
you all stay frosty out there
and be safe.

Yours in heat exhaustion
and just a touch of butterflies.
H


Got a letter the other day…

Ex Libris

From the Follansbee…

telling me the website was dark.

Three days of inquiries later…she’s back up and running.

Apologies to anyone out there,
at least one of you is out there,in case you were looking to for some artwork to browse through while sipping that steaming mug of tea.

Another snowstorm is collecting energy in the wings and poised to bounce around the east coast for the next couple days. They want a blizzard on the Vineyard, already see that high tides have flooded major roads there so stay home you islanders !

Around here they want a modest 8+ inches which, as I look out of the studio windows now almost three weeks after our blizzard, would just about double what is currently left and clinging to our little patch of the planet.

The muses have been particularly pushy this week and, after fighting and fussing and generally whining Herself’s ears off…I have given in and changed course.

I threw out days of work and dozens of sketches and notes and am following their lead. They are tapping into a deeper place in my soul and, now that I’ve stopped fighting, I feel the energy shifting.

Did I need this website glitch right now ?
Maybe I just needed to check in with my external guides…you all.
So, the spinach pie has cooled while I’ve been writing,
and after a quick lunch,
and a check to see where the snow shovels ended up after the last storm,
I get to head back to work.

Happily,
but holding on tight.
Be safe out there my friends.


5am…enough light to see

That’s the note I found this morning, on the studio kitchen table, written on a scrap of cardboard, with a sharpie, found beneath the pile of framing tools, which were left untidied, after a long day of framing, and print making, and general mayhem making.

The Follansbee arrived just after I put out the lanterns last night, stopping for a pallet on the studio floor, as he made his way home from a week of teaching woody things down at Roy Underhill’s place in NC. So, the note was all we got to see of him this time, but we had a good visit on his way down south last weekend.

the master carvers tea

His hair is long enough now to tie in the back and a good bit whiter. But the sparkle is still there in those eyes. Gonna catch up with him and the family in the fall, so that’s ok then.

The day dawns, a little later for my own self than the master carver, and Herself has left to ship two new paintings out to the Sugarman Peterson Gallery. There is an opening for that show on July 3rd, in Santa Fe, so today you get the first peek at them…

All Her Eggs  – 16 x 20

All Her Eggs 

Scape  –  12 x 13

Scape

From the sharply pointed pen of Mark Twain…

“Put all your eggs in one basket. And watch that basket.”

Eggs courtesy of Dru and Homer, who farm a CSA just over the hill. They are as delicious to eat as they are to paint. The eggs.

And just out that window and a little to the right is the little wren. Always.
When Zoe is here, she relies on the wren’s first trill of the morning to signal that it is ok to get her giggly self out of bed and start her day.
In the early summer she has a different job.
This summer she has built her nest in the birdhouse just above the garlic bed.
I wait with lusty anticipation all year for the garlic to send forth those gorgeously delectable curly scapes, and this season, her babies hatched on the very same day they appeared.

She spends her busy days now bouncing from Ted and Polly’s wind chime, to dancing from scape to scape.
So, there ya go. Ted is having a blast, directing the muses every which way I turn around here.

Look for these two garden graces to be winging their way out west this week. And if you are in Santa Fe, please stop by to visit Michael and Christie Sugarman and say hey for me.

Now it’s on to more framing…
stay frosty out there.

 


Can’t wait, can’t wait …

Peter’s new video is out…

I’d much rather be sitting next to him on a bench carving spoons, but this promises to be a classic tutorial and I know he’s been practicing so mine’s in the mail.

Here’s the link to his website where there is a video preview. Click Here

Be prepared…if you go down this road you will have more fun than a human ought to have and you will never need another session of therapy or artificial mood enhancer.

While you are on his site, which he has just updated, there are tons of other Follansbee items of interest including other videos, his workshop schedule and some of his very own spoons and other woodworking projects for sale.

It doesn’t get any better than that.

Please share with your friends, woodworking pals and otherwise.

Happy carving !!!!


In a light filled stable kinda mind…

Stable Light

Immersing myself in the world of Bill Copperthwaite with the arrival of Peter Forbes and Helen Whybrow’s new book, A Man Apart.

Picture

The earth is shifting below my studio feet…
and I suspect it will be life altering.

More to come…

 


Day 2

The-Whipper-In

From 2003 – The Whipper In
This one has only been seen once in a show at the Granary. I think it is providing insulation in our bedroom at the moment. It’s our log cabin living room and, if you’ve been there then you are in a very special group of friends and family. The painting upper left is a reproduction of one I did for the Follansbees of their front yard. Kinda fun to see that again. As of last night, that fireplace is still keeping us warm…

Painter’s Notes – click here

Transit

2004 – Transit

This one hangs in the studio and I get to look at that ocean every day and dream.

Painter’s Notes – click here

The-Flyer

2005 – The Flyer
Boy did I love painting that red. That mail bag was a victim of the major flooding we had a few years ago. Loyal friend Susan Douglas took it home and lovingly cleaned it and I just unearthed it yesterday for a new painting idea. Then I went up to the old studio, which is now my prop room, and found that jacket too. It wasn’t quite right for the new painting, but it was a solid yes for The Flyer.

Painter’s Notes – click here

OK – Ken Vincent…you’re tagged.