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Hey Welcome! I’m Crispina ffrench
Artist, Educator, Empowerer, Plant Eater,
Nature Lover, Cookie Baker, Climate Change Activist
I’m glad you are here, Now let’s make shift happen.

Recycling Stories

The Rice Silk Mill

Maybe you know about Crispina’s Scrapbox Challenge 2020 that is going on right now – but just in case this is your first time here let me tell you a little bit about it.

First of all I would like to officially thank all those who applied to play along with my Scrapbox Challenge - This has been so much fun and the response has blown me out of the water! If you didn't get chosen this time around, do not distress - I have plans to run another, slightly different challenge before the end of the year.

Right now there are 60 people out there, scattered across the world, with boxes of recycled textile scrap from my studio.  They were chosen from a wonderful pool of applicants to take part in the challenge – we were able to pack 60 boxes so we chose 60 people – no experience or requirements needed other than a commitment to document their process.  

Part design competition, part recycling ingenuity, all creative high-jinx and community building fun. Right now competitors are sending in their unboxing imagery – due onMarch 18.  If you hang out here you can watch as things unfold, meet the makers, learn about their processes and then vote for the entry you like best.  Awesome prizes are piling up – One GRAND PRIZE and three Runners Up.  

One of the things I love best about recycling textiles to make beautiful and useful handmade things for living (from clothing to rugs, blankets and toys) is the stories involved. Each garment, swatch of cloth, or scrap of fabric has a backstory.  Most of the time, I can only imagine that history as the bulk of my materials are purchased from thrift shops.  Once in awhile I have details.  Once in awhile the backstory is passed along to me with the material.  

In the Scrapbox Challenge there are some pretty regal fabric pieces that I will share with you about as we dive in deep to this challenge in the coming weeks.  Today I am focused in on the large cones of super fine thread that a handful of contestants got in their scrapboxes.

This thread came to me by way of my dear friend and fellow rabble-rouser, Kathy Moody.  

Back in 2006 my hubby and I bought a former RC cathedral in the heart of Pittsfield, MA with the idea that it would house my then 40-person production crew and flagship store.  It was an exciting time, committing to purchasing a sacred space, built in 1895 completely gorgeous building and adjacent rectory had me pipe dreaming of intentional living and uplifting a down-trodden city.  

While we were focused on finding the rhythm of our new family and ascertaining all the details and complexities of owning commercial real estate in Pittsfield MA, other commercial properties in were emptying and seeking ownership for next chapters. The Silk Mill aka The Rice Mill captured my attention.  Right around the corner from our church, The Rice Mill had manufactured silk cords and braids for parachutes and the military.  

My friend Kathy set me up on the tour given by the last remaining employee who had a 35-year history in the building. He offered me to take anything useful for my business.  There were rooms full of intricate machinery, boxes of threads, some finished braids and cording, big sunny windows, giant beams and hand-hewn columns.  It was heartbreaking to see the cast iron antique braiding machines in metal-scrap piles on the well-worn wooden floors. My heart wanted to save the whole place and all that magical machinery that spun, braided, twisted and conjured miles of silk threads into meaningful roping and braids. All I could actually do was hoard a couple boxes of thread thinking I could at least write a new ending chapter to the life of that material, and tell the story - this story.

That ending chapter might be now, with Crispina's Scrapbox Challenge 2020. or maybe there will be a few more chapters for this extra-fine, strong, smooth thread.  Maybe it is silk, maybe a monofilament, either way, it has strung a necklace of stories together and continues that trajectory today.  

If you are a Berkshire based person, do you have stories about this once bustling, once biggest business in Pittsfield?  Did you have relatives or ancestors who worked there?  Maybe you salvaged one of those machines?

And if you are a contestant in the #CrispinaScrapbox2020, now you know, you carry and will contribute to a legacy that started back in 1876 when construction of The Rice Silk Mill at 55 Spring Street inPittsfield, MA was complete and that new business was getting up and running.

Recycling Stories

The Rice Silk Mill

Maybe you know about Crispina’s Scrapbox Challenge 2020 that is going on right now – but just in case this is your first time here let me tell you a little bit about it.

First of all I would like to officially thank all those who applied to play along with my Scrapbox Challenge - This has been so much fun and the response has blown me out of the water! If you didn't get chosen this time around, do not distress - I have plans to run another, slightly different challenge before the end of the year.

Right now there are 60 people out there, scattered across the world, with boxes of recycled textile scrap from my studio.  They were chosen from a wonderful pool of applicants to take part in the challenge – we were able to pack 60 boxes so we chose 60 people – no experience or requirements needed other than a commitment to document their process.  

Part design competition, part recycling ingenuity, all creative high-jinx and community building fun. Right now competitors are sending in their unboxing imagery – due onMarch 18.  If you hang out here you can watch as things unfold, meet the makers, learn about their processes and then vote for the entry you like best.  Awesome prizes are piling up – One GRAND PRIZE and three Runners Up.  

One of the things I love best about recycling textiles to make beautiful and useful handmade things for living (from clothing to rugs, blankets and toys) is the stories involved. Each garment, swatch of cloth, or scrap of fabric has a backstory.  Most of the time, I can only imagine that history as the bulk of my materials are purchased from thrift shops.  Once in awhile I have details.  Once in awhile the backstory is passed along to me with the material.  

In the Scrapbox Challenge there are some pretty regal fabric pieces that I will share with you about as we dive in deep to this challenge in the coming weeks.  Today I am focused in on the large cones of super fine thread that a handful of contestants got in their scrapboxes.

This thread came to me by way of my dear friend and fellow rabble-rouser, Kathy Moody.  

Back in 2006 my hubby and I bought a former RC cathedral in the heart of Pittsfield, MA with the idea that it would house my then 40-person production crew and flagship store.  It was an exciting time, committing to purchasing a sacred space, built in 1895 completely gorgeous building and adjacent rectory had me pipe dreaming of intentional living and uplifting a down-trodden city.  

While we were focused on finding the rhythm of our new family and ascertaining all the details and complexities of owning commercial real estate in Pittsfield MA, other commercial properties in were emptying and seeking ownership for next chapters. The Silk Mill aka The Rice Mill captured my attention.  Right around the corner from our church, The Rice Mill had manufactured silk cords and braids for parachutes and the military.  

My friend Kathy set me up on the tour given by the last remaining employee who had a 35-year history in the building. He offered me to take anything useful for my business.  There were rooms full of intricate machinery, boxes of threads, some finished braids and cording, big sunny windows, giant beams and hand-hewn columns.  It was heartbreaking to see the cast iron antique braiding machines in metal-scrap piles on the well-worn wooden floors. My heart wanted to save the whole place and all that magical machinery that spun, braided, twisted and conjured miles of silk threads into meaningful roping and braids. All I could actually do was hoard a couple boxes of thread thinking I could at least write a new ending chapter to the life of that material, and tell the story - this story.

That ending chapter might be now, with Crispina's Scrapbox Challenge 2020. or maybe there will be a few more chapters for this extra-fine, strong, smooth thread.  Maybe it is silk, maybe a monofilament, either way, it has strung a necklace of stories together and continues that trajectory today.  

If you are a Berkshire based person, do you have stories about this once bustling, once biggest business in Pittsfield?  Did you have relatives or ancestors who worked there?  Maybe you salvaged one of those machines?

And if you are a contestant in the #CrispinaScrapbox2020, now you know, you carry and will contribute to a legacy that started back in 1876 when construction of The Rice Silk Mill at 55 Spring Street inPittsfield, MA was complete and that new business was getting up and running.

Recycling Stories

The Rice Silk Mill

Maybe you know about Crispina’s Scrapbox Challenge 2020 that is going on right now – but just in case this is your first time here let me tell you a little bit about it.

First of all I would like to officially thank all those who applied to play along with my Scrapbox Challenge - This has been so much fun and the response has blown me out of the water! If you didn't get chosen this time around, do not distress - I have plans to run another, slightly different challenge before the end of the year.

Right now there are 60 people out there, scattered across the world, with boxes of recycled textile scrap from my studio.  They were chosen from a wonderful pool of applicants to take part in the challenge – we were able to pack 60 boxes so we chose 60 people – no experience or requirements needed other than a commitment to document their process.  

Part design competition, part recycling ingenuity, all creative high-jinx and community building fun. Right now competitors are sending in their unboxing imagery – due onMarch 18.  If you hang out here you can watch as things unfold, meet the makers, learn about their processes and then vote for the entry you like best.  Awesome prizes are piling up – One GRAND PRIZE and three Runners Up.  

One of the things I love best about recycling textiles to make beautiful and useful handmade things for living (from clothing to rugs, blankets and toys) is the stories involved. Each garment, swatch of cloth, or scrap of fabric has a backstory.  Most of the time, I can only imagine that history as the bulk of my materials are purchased from thrift shops.  Once in awhile I have details.  Once in awhile the backstory is passed along to me with the material.  

In the Scrapbox Challenge there are some pretty regal fabric pieces that I will share with you about as we dive in deep to this challenge in the coming weeks.  Today I am focused in on the large cones of super fine thread that a handful of contestants got in their scrapboxes.

This thread came to me by way of my dear friend and fellow rabble-rouser, Kathy Moody.  

Back in 2006 my hubby and I bought a former RC cathedral in the heart of Pittsfield, MA with the idea that it would house my then 40-person production crew and flagship store.  It was an exciting time, committing to purchasing a sacred space, built in 1895 completely gorgeous building and adjacent rectory had me pipe dreaming of intentional living and uplifting a down-trodden city.  

While we were focused on finding the rhythm of our new family and ascertaining all the details and complexities of owning commercial real estate in Pittsfield MA, other commercial properties in were emptying and seeking ownership for next chapters. The Silk Mill aka The Rice Mill captured my attention.  Right around the corner from our church, The Rice Mill had manufactured silk cords and braids for parachutes and the military.  

My friend Kathy set me up on the tour given by the last remaining employee who had a 35-year history in the building. He offered me to take anything useful for my business.  There were rooms full of intricate machinery, boxes of threads, some finished braids and cording, big sunny windows, giant beams and hand-hewn columns.  It was heartbreaking to see the cast iron antique braiding machines in metal-scrap piles on the well-worn wooden floors. My heart wanted to save the whole place and all that magical machinery that spun, braided, twisted and conjured miles of silk threads into meaningful roping and braids. All I could actually do was hoard a couple boxes of thread thinking I could at least write a new ending chapter to the life of that material, and tell the story - this story.

That ending chapter might be now, with Crispina's Scrapbox Challenge 2020. or maybe there will be a few more chapters for this extra-fine, strong, smooth thread.  Maybe it is silk, maybe a monofilament, either way, it has strung a necklace of stories together and continues that trajectory today.  

If you are a Berkshire based person, do you have stories about this once bustling, once biggest business in Pittsfield?  Did you have relatives or ancestors who worked there?  Maybe you salvaged one of those machines?

And if you are a contestant in the #CrispinaScrapbox2020, now you know, you carry and will contribute to a legacy that started back in 1876 when construction of The Rice Silk Mill at 55 Spring Street inPittsfield, MA was complete and that new business was getting up and running.

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