Blue Wall Group

Independent Artists in the Upstate of South Carolina

Arts Camp 2010

Our mini arts camp took place on Saturday, July 30th. We taught three classes-- Clay, Drama, and Dance. Taught by Sarah Townes Godfrey, Zachary Deuerling, and Elena Steadman. The Camp enjoyed the first use of the dance floor loan to us by Louise's House of Dance.

Book Launch Party

On November 11th, 2010, Blue Wall Group hosted a launch party at Slater-Marietta Arts Center for Hub City Writers' Outdoor Adventures in the Upcountry, a collection of short stories by local authors. Some of the authors read passages from their works.


Strawberry Festival 2010

Strawberry Festival 2010 was a great success. Blue Wall Group joined Foothills Family Resources to present the Best Ever Festival, with more craft booths, a tremendous music program, and a splendid dance presentation by our Dance Tutor and Blue Wall Artist Elena Steadman.  

Indoor Yard Sale

We held our first indoor yard sale and kept it open for several weeks so that our regulars could buy more things - now we are moving everything back into the Thrift Shop.

From Mill to Moon

Space suit's down-to-earth origins rediscovered

Author:Amy Clarke
Date:Jul 15, 2009
Start Page:n/a
Text Word Count:723
Document Text
Date:Jul 15, 2009
Start Page:n/a
Text Word Count:723

A relic of American history that helped an Upstate mill survive the crash of the domestic textile industry is coming out of a dusty attic after four decades to commemorate the giant leap for mankind.

The former Slater Plant in the northern corner of Greenville County was part of President John F. Kennedy's grand challenge of sending a man to the moon, producing one of the spacesuit fabrics used in the Apollo-era space missions, including the historic Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969.

A prototype suit was recently found at the plant, which operates today as JPS Composite Materials, and has become the center of a celebration about the history of the little mill village of Slater.

It's a history that began more than 80 years ago, when the plant started producing cotton sheeting and soon moved to making rayon cloth. The facility began producing fiberglass materials in 1951, a move that may very well have saved it amid the downturn in textiles in South Carolina.

It was that new material that found its way to the moon.

Today the plant's innovative practices are still contributing to the space program, producing quartz fabrics that are used in missile cones and other high-temperature applications on the space shuttle.

"It does reflect on America's greatest advantage historically, what some people used to call 'Yankee ingenuity,' this creativity and ingenuity that comes forward," said Bruce Yandle, dean emeritus at Clemson University's College of Business and Behavioral Science.

It's that drive that has kept the old Slater Plant operating even as the American textile industry has largely faded away, decimated by the migration to inexpensive foreign operations.

Jim Wilson, a manager at JPS, said his own great-grandfather worked and played ball at the mill decades ago.

"We've been still going strong," he said, thanks to a spirit of ongoing adaptability that's kept the plant operating.

That, he said, and "the people actually take good pride in what they do."

A local committee has been researching the history of Slater's role in the spacesuit and discovered the spirit of the time boiled down largely to a workaday sensibility.

Peter Godfrey, a local artist, is working on a documentary about the history, and has talked to several former workers who recalled their days making the "government cloth," as they called it.

"Eh, it's a job," was a common response, he said.

"And it occurred to us that, 'Eh, it's a job,' is that steadfastness, that everyday, is that little part of history that Slater has a hold on."

To honor that history and the small-town role in a big-time piece of history, the Slater Hall Citizens' Committee, in conjunction with the Greenville County Recreation District, is holding the From Mill to Moon festival Saturday, coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 flight.

An astronaut from NASA will speak at the event, addressing "the connection between small-town America and this major space program ... major advances that we've made," said Karen Cleveland, committee chair. "It's through the efforts of small-town people going to work every day, working the third shift making the fabric."

The research into the spacesuit's history has been slow-going, committee members said, because of a lack of documentation, although awareness of the plant's work permeated the community at the time.

"Everybody knew it. It was top secret in the '50s, but by the '60s, everybody knew it," said Joe Wojeck. One of the plant manager's children even took the suit to school for show-and-tell around the time of the Apollo 11 landing.

But the stories faded from everyday lore. "It disappeared; no one knew," said Joyce Ford, another committee member.

The rediscovery of Slater's history has inspired a newfound enthusiasm among community members, who are dredging up and swapping old memories of the time down at the "liars' club," also known as the local hardware store.

"The stories are wonderful," Godfrey said.

The events planned for the From Mill to Moon festival include a robotics demonstration, a downhill "rocket derby," a children's space-themed parade and a "bluegrass opera" written especially for the occasion by Godfrey.

In a lighthearted salute, there are T-shirts with images of the moon landing reading, "Brought to you courtesy of Slater, South Carolina."

The festival will be held from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday at Slater Hall.


Date:Jul 15, 2009
Start Page:n/a
Text Word Count:723


Document Text
Date:Jul 15, 2009
Start Page:n/a
Text Word Count:723


July 2009 marked the 40th anniversary of the first manned lunar landing, the Apollo 11 mission. People in Slater who worked in the mill in 1969 are well aware that prior to that time, behind a special cordoned-off area of the factory, a hush-hush project was taking shape; the fabric being produced there was destined to leave this world behind. The twenty-three layers of protective fabric that made up the moon-suits worn by the astronauts were manufactured, not in some space-age laboratory by robots, but in small mill villages like Slater, SC, and the work was done by the people who lived next door.

          On July 18th, the non-profit Citizens for Slater Hall and Blue Wall Group joined forces with the Roper Mountain Science Center and the Greenville County Recreation District to stage a spectacular day of music, performance, exhibitions and artworks, to celebrate a giant leap for mankind and a special cause for pride to the people of Slater.                    


First Annual Slater Festival Juried Art Show 







An invitation was extended to all artists to submit artwork for the annual Slater Festival Juried Art Show.  The Juried Art Show  took place in Slater from Friday July 17th to Sunday July 19th.

The juror was Tom Flowers, and the show  took place in the Blue Wall Gallery,100 Lindberg Street in Slater, at the corner of Main St. and Lindberg St. (formerly New Horizon Family Health Services.) See the Art Show page for details of awards.

We hope The Slater Hall Juried Art Show will become a popular annual event, giving artists an opportunity to showcase their talents to the community.  The Art Show committee thanks all the artists for their participation, and New Horizon for the donation of the building.









The 9th Annual Strawberry Festival

Once again, Blue Wall Group, working with Foothills Family Resources, brought you the annual Strawberry Festival at Slater Hall. This year it fell on the 21st of May, and the weather was as good to us as it was last year.
Strawberry Festival is getting more popular each year - vendors like the relaxed atmosphere, the unique Village setting, and the loyal customers.  And it's all in a good cause - proceeds go to two of the hardest working non-profits in Slater-Marietta.