In my previous post, I had shown outside photos of the HDF factory. In this post, I will take you inside the factory and we will walk through the manufacturing process of my beloved silk.
Here are the bales of undyed silk, kept handy near the dyeing station. There is a much larger inventory, of course, that sits in a closet elsewhere in the factory.
Here are the dyepots (bowls, rather). These are for the dip method of dyeing, whereby the silk hank is dipped into the dyepot and left to sit for a while. I forgot to take a photo for the splatter technique (the silk is first dipped in one or two colors, and then another color is sprayed onto the dyed silk with a spritz bottle). The silk is first treated with acid, then dipped into the dye.
Out of the dye pots, the wet silk goes for a spin in the washing machine to remove excess liquids (you can see a little bit of the washing machine in the foreground below); then into a baggie for a steam in the microwave.
A front view of the dyeing station. The steel vats in the sink contain the acid bath for the undyed silk hanks:
Then the hanks go onto the drying racks – somewhere in this contraption is a fan that blasts air and makes a lot of noise! This machine was developed and built in-house by Bob.
Once dry, the silk is wound on cones on an ingenious coning machine, which was also developed in-house by Bob. Before he invented the coning machine, here is Bob at the old hand-winding machine. The wooden swift is connected to a mechanical thingy with a meter that reads the yardage on each spool. :
No photo of the new coning machine but here are the cones:
The coned floss is then wound around micro or mini spools at Bob’s ingenious spooling machine. The labeling is also done here (you can see one on the computer screen):
Vikki at her computer station: printing orders, answering emails, checking forums, and still smiling after 12 hours of work!
The printed orders then go onto this packing station. The plastic bags on the table contain spooled and labeled minis.
If the minis/micros in the order have not been spooled yet, the order goes on a tray and onto Bob’s spooling station. He checks each tray, spools the required floss and completes the order, which is then packed and sealed for shipping.
The floss rack in the back room:
During winter, all rooms at the back are shut off to conserve energy and the entire operation, from dyeing and drying to spooling and packing, is run from the front room. The opening of the back rooms heralds the arrival of spring, longer days, more sunshine, and more space to spread out and have fun events like d-bag parties (more on that later)!
I am indeed blessed to get an inside look at such a fine example of good ol’ American ingenuity and entrepreneurship in this remote corner of Pennsylvania!