The internet has been spotty the past few days, so its been difficult to stay up to date with my findings and travels.
A few days I met with Mr. Fromholzer, the man who worked with the Wallach company, and continues to produce Wallach fabrics. He is well into his 90's and works every day. His factory is in a small town in the bavarian forest, he has only a few employees, but produces a huge amount of work. Again the biggest hurtle is the language barrier, but I found an incredibly kind person who was willing to come with me and spoke both english and german, so he could translate a good portion of what Fromholzer wanted to say. I took quite a few photos - and I think that is the best way to show the inter-workings of the factory.
When I walked into the store, he was full of smiles. He said one of his greatest wishes was to meet someone who is a part of the Wallach lineage, because the brothers were some of his greatest friends. It was one of my greatest wishes to meet someone who knew the family well - so we were both incredibly happy.
An school teacher in the town of Ruhmannsfelden wrote a book on the Fromholzer business, and a large portion of the book contains stories of the Wallach family. He gave me a copy of the book, as well as a box full of fabrics - both of which I sent home.
His records were most impressive to me, it seemed as if he had every letter, article, and report from the Wallach family, as well as hundreds of dye tests, and chemical recipes. There were shelves and shelves full of goodies. I spent my time flipping through the records, and looking at fabric patterns.
Mr. Fromholzer's biggest concern is what will happen to the company when he is no longer living. He wishes to keep the collection together, because that was the wish of the Wallach brothers. He is looking for someone to catalog, organize, and take responsibility for the collection. Neither of his sons are interested, and he is incredibly worried that the fabrics, wood blocks, and records will disappear after he dies. I understand that there will be a Fromholzer / Wallach museum that will be opening in a few years, maybe the collection will go there.
Without a translated version of the Fromholzer book, its difficult to report his stories with accuracy. I'm hoping that when I get home I will find a teacher who is interested in helping me translate.
The experience with Mr. Fromholzer was absolutely heartwarming, but also a bit sad. I understand his fear of losing the collection, and discontinuing something that has been in production for hundreds of years. There is no one else who is willing or able to run the company, so the second best thing is a museum.
I feel so lucky to have met him, and will hold this experience close for years to come.