Posts Tagged With: rug making

IRON COUNTY, WISCONSIN-AT HURLEY

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Fitting this beautiful building into a single frame on my camera didn’t do it justice. Built in 1893 as a city hall, then converted to a courthouse for Hurley, WI., it is now a museum and the building is on the National Register of Historic Places. The original clock, still runs. We go to so many museums, I always try to find items you won’t see in any other locale.

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This is Iron country and mining was prominent, so I stopped in the mining room first. This is the head frame of an iron mine.  But, I quickly got bored with mining technology. We had limited time because the museum closed at 2 p.m.; we arrived  at 1:oo.

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The electrical switches on the walls are buttons. The wiring is enclosed behind a trim board on the wall’s surface.

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In Hardwood, I spent time with the Dan DuFresne family. Dan DuFresne was like an uncle to me. This milk separator looked very much like his.

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But, I had never seen a milk cooler such as this. Dairy is big in Wisconsin, too.

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I kind of whisked through the rooms because our time was so short. This kitchen scene has nothing new in it but it reminded me so much of hard Michigan winters. Wet clothing drying by the kitchen stove was a fact of life, especially with kids getting wet and chilled coming in to dry off,  then half an hour later, wanting to be bundled up again to go outside and play in the snow.

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Then I discovered the weaving room. Five women were working on woven rag rugs. I counted five looms in the room. Two women were working the looms. This one uses polyester materials sewn in strips with mixed colors. Polyester wears like iron and keeps its bright colors longer than natural materials.

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This weaver was using a loosely woven rags for her rug. There is a garment factory in town and the materials used here would go into the dump if they hadn’t set up a non-profit rug making center in the museum using these old hand looms.

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I’ve seen weaving demonstrations before, but I didn’t know that as one rug ends, (no more material of the appropriate color) two cardboard pieces are slipped into the warp and another rug of the same size is started. Eventually, the weaver will cut between the two pieces of cardboard and the stray threads of the warp become fringe.

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This woman is tying the fringe on a denim rug she just completed. She separates and strands into an uneven number say five or three and ties them by hand into a knot.

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This woman made this rug to order. The customer wanted something that resembled Navajo rugs. She had to wait until the right color material landed on their doorstep. This rug sells for $40.

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They have material packed away, choosing colors, planning rugs. I was enthralled. DSC08978 (Copy)

This is a one of a set of four placemats.

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I was hooked. There are so few things you can buy when you live in a motor home. I bought three rugs and skipped the rest of the museum, which I highly recommend should you ever get to Hurley. Hurley sits on the  Michigan/Wisconsin border.

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THE HUTONGS OF BEIJING.

From the bus, the dependence on bicycles in Beijing is visible wherever you go. Street lights of old were yellow lanterns. Now, the yellow lanterns are lit with electricity. On this street, the clustered lanterns are white.  We are taken to the inner city area of Beijing called the Hutongs, a neighborhood of closely built, attached houses with narrow alleyways, and tricky warrens, with no house numbers, typical of old Beijing. Most of the Hutong neighborhood has been bulldozed and people living there forced to move to high-rise, ugly,  cement,  apartment buildings.

We walked to a modern, bicycle powered rickshaw parking lot.

Michal, my travel partner, and I shared a rickshaw. Our driver’s name is “Joe”.  He speaks some English and told us he has two kids. He lives in the country and spends  one month per year with his family. In the city, he bunks in with other drivers and sends a required amount of his licensed earnings home to his family.

Hutong families may have a garage for bikes, and storage. Most are two rooms, with a small courtyard where they can grow herbs and a few radishes or lettuces for something fresh, or maybe flowers in a pot.

Some places are too narrow for a rickshaw and after a few minutes ride, we walk to meet our host family.

The Hutongs are handed down from generation to generation. Families here didn’t have deeds to their houses, but now everything is tracked and recorded. The neighboring family to our host has a fancy ceramic table and stools. This is an upper middle-class area.

This family is very proud of their spacious living/dining room.  Because they are affluent, they have decorations on the wall, family pictures, beautiful coverings for their furnishings and a television set.

The dining area of the main room with long ago acquired furnishings handed down, are now possibly valuable “antiques.”

In their private bedroom, the bed takes up most of the room, but it is fancy and many room decorations are visible with a modern lamp beside the bed. This type of residence is rare in China and very much desired. The neighborhood is safe and friendly. No one locks their bike or doors. None of them have bathrooms, they share community toilets and washing areas.

A very modern kitchen with running water, and the ability to cook inside. The Hutong houses of old had tramped dirt floors covered by bamboo mats, since replaced with tiles.  Cooking was done outside in a communal courtyard, if they were lucky to have that much room. Some just had a charcoal brazier on the roof, or in front of the door. The host family is paid by the tour company to open up their house to a mob of tourists.

As we walk out of the neighborhood, Vicki points out areas where the Hutong houses have been removed, cemented over and expanded to allow automobiles in.

One place had a bonsai obviously hundreds of years old.  In Japan, that bonsai would be surrounded by items of beauty and serenity to enhance the bonsai instead of a rolled up hose and a fire hydrant.  Gave me a chuckle.

Our group moved on to Prince Gong Imperial Gardens, a city park.

It was a beautiful spot in the middle of the city, but so packed with humanity, we hurried away.

We stopped to visit a rug factory. It carried excellent quality merchandise but the workers conditions were upsetting.

This young girl, still wearing her jacket, sits for long hours, in a cold unheated building and a hard seat. The rug she is working on will take a year to complete. She is a skilled worker and is grateful to have a job.

 

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