Throwing consists in strengthening the silk thread produced in spinning workshops before it is woven.
Throwing in the Drôme
From the beginning of the 18th century onward, the Drôme developed throwing, encouraged by the Lyons traders who wanted to challenge Italian supremacy. Throwing was first performed on round reels referred to as “Piedmonts”, then, from 1750, on oval reels built by a French mechanic, Jacques Vaucanson (1709-1782).
A fragile business
As early as 1830, throwing became more important than spinning. But the 1853 crisis did not spare the throwers, leading them to import foreign silk. In 1880, the Drôme’s throwers were mainly trading with Lyons silk entrepreneurs. This dependence favoured the growth of large factories and resulted in the disappearance of independent throwing.
View of a throwing workshop
Decline of throwing
The arrival of artificial fibres in 1930 had serious consequences for the throwing industry; natural silk was no longer competitive while the Italian industry, which had managed to adapt, competing with the Drôme’s industry. So much so, that some entrepreneurs, such as Armandy, settled in Italy. At the end of the 19th century silk from China reached France from where it was sent to Italy for throwing before being sent to Germany for cheap weaving. Many throwing mills closed down from 1903 onward. But contrary to spinning, World War I gave a new start to throwing, with orders from Britain and the Americas.
View of a throwing workshop with mills on two floors
The silk skeins were set on a wooden wheel, the “tavelle” that ran loose on its spindle and the crude silk was then reeled on a horizontal spool, the “roquet”, or “tavelette”.