Mercer students preserve history with unique hobbies

Two students at Mercer University have unique hobbies that share a common element: both are examples of living history. Brooke Schermerhorn and Ethan Bloodworth keep history alive through practicing the art of spinning and Civil War reenactments, respectively.
Schermerhorn has been using a spinning wheel to create her own yarn from wool and other materials such as cotton and silk for the last seven years. Before that, she was experienced with using a loom for weaving to make cloth. She had been interested in spinning for some time and eventually decided to try it. She attended a meeting of the Georgia Mountain Hand Spinners, and over the course of the night, they introduced her to spinning.
“They were so nice, one of them even loaned me a spinning wheel,” Schermerhorn said. Within a month, she had purchased the wheel from the woman and was improving her skills at the craft. Eventually she started buying fibers from various farms in the area and began experimenting with different online fibers. As her interest in spinning grew, so did the price.
“People think that when you start from the most basic materials you are saving money. That’s not true,” she said, explaining that it was an expensive hobby. A pound of wool costs around $20. The spinning wheel itself is also a hefty investment. To Schermerhorn, however, it is more than worth it.
Schermerhorn enjoys giving demonstrations of how spinning works.
“It’s one of my favorite things to do. I get to sit and spin, I can talk about the history of fiber arts, or I can talk about current fiber spinning culture. I like explaining to children where the wool comes from.” Children seem especially intrigued and confused by the process, she notes. “A lot of children don’t understand why I do it by hand. They always ask why I don’t put a motor on it,” said Schermerhorn.
Ethan Bloodworth agreed that preserving history and the methods used is extremely important. Bloodworth has been participating in Civil War reenactments for the past year. He is a member of the 16th Georgia Company G Jackson Rifles. He has participated in around a dozen events and between 15 to 20 battles.
Bloodworth first experienced reenacting when he was assigned to write a paper on it. A friend of his took him to a reenactment where he got involved in the event. His favorite event he has attended was also his first battle after officially enlisting, the Old Clinton War Days.
“It was great,” he said, “I was getting to know everybody and getting everything I needed. I was really able to dive in head first, I loved it.”
Bloodworth explained that while he enjoys the battles and fighting, what he really enjoys is the sense of brotherhood he has with the other reenactors and the feelings of reverence they share towards the events of the war. His favorite events to participate in are memorial services.
“You feel yourself full of reverence,” Bloodworth explained. “You realize why you do this. It’s not love of battle; it’s to remember the history. To honor those who fell. No soldier wants to be forgotten.”
Remembering the past is very important, and these two Mercer students are doing their best to keep parts of the past alive.