Monday, 27th May 2013
“Weaving is an industry. It is not a craft.” The one-man-mill is emphatic about this. Flanked by his clanking chain-powered friends, his is an avowedly craft-free environment, and he likes nothing less than the labelling of his industry as the very thing it stands against.
Remember — there’s a “mill” in one-man-mill. And a mill, by definition, is something packed with machines and processes and assembly lines and manufacturing. Mills are noisy places of clanking and whizzing and thumping. Dark and satanic places, all told.
The one-man-mill of east London will one day be dark and satanic, and right now those qualities are bubbling under. Like Mikey Corleone transforming from angelic wide-eyed son into embodiment of evil, so over the past year have the rosy cheeks of the one-man-mill turned ashen and the eyes and intent hollowed and meaner. The darkness is currently being channeled into the Dobcross loom (below). Workhorse of the industrial revolution, the Dobcross is a huge cast-iron thing; an ear-guards at twenty paces thing.
The Dobcross dominates the mill, and, once fully assembled, will be the capital’s first industrial power loom. The one-man-mill has travelled many hundred miles in acquiring and lugging around the parts needed to put it together. Hulking, heavy, noisy, and in places green, the Dobcross brings out the Dr. Frankenstein in the one-man-mill.
The Dobcross joins a burgeoning fleet of other weaving contraptions at the one-man-mill’s East London premises, including a recently upgraded warping mill, three narrow Hattersley looms, and a museum-grade Crompton & Knowles loom currently being assembled (above). It is through machines like these that the dexterous traditions of certain crafts were mangled and hung out to dry over a century ago. If the one-man-mill keeps going the way he’s going, they won’t be revived, not in these parts, any time soon.