The Beacon Blanket Mill, located in Swannanoa, NC, was at one time the biggest manufacturer of blankets in the world. In the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s their cotton “Indian” blankets could be found in stores from coast to coast, at summer camps, in car trunks, and on the prize board for carnivals, amusement parks, and side shows.
The Indian patterned blankets were actually designed by Beacon’s in-house designers, based on blankets the owner, Charles D. Owen, brought home from his trips out West. At one point the Navajo tribe sued Beacon to stop implying that the blankets were made by Indians. Beacon kept the patterns, but stopped using advertising that featured feathered Native Americans making Beacon blankets on primitive looms.
The intricate and geometric patterns, however, make perfect subjects for coloring. You may have noticed the hundreds of coloring books available in every bookstore, at the grocery, and on Amazon, or be an aficionado yourself. The act of coloring is found by many to be a soothing, meditative activity, perhaps recalling the use of coloring books in childhood.
It has been asserted that Faber-Castell, one of the world’s major manufacturers of quality colored pencils, has had to add additional shifts to keep up with the demand for pencils. The adult coloring book fad is said to be the reason for this remarkable increase.
The profits from this book will go to support “Blanket Town: the Rise and Fall of an American Mill Town,” a documentary about Beacon’s impact on Swannanoa and the people who lived there.