Old Glory. 1776. Every piece of cloth slowly made in a colonial weaving room had a story. There remains a story – rewritten and still thriving in Sonoma County at North Bay Industries. The Stars and Stripes. 2018. Cloth and thread. The cotton is no longer picked by hand – the current cotton picker is a self-propelled machine that removes cotton lint and seed from the plant at up to six rows at a time. It’s fast, self-driving and replaces the labor of 240 sets of field hands. The Red White and Blue. Today they appear the same, but many ingredients used to come from Spanish colonies in Central and South America. Eighteenth-century dyers used insects to produce red, indigo for blue, campeche tree heartwood for purple, walnut for brown, and turmeric for yellow. Because of their chemistry, many eighteenth-century dyes are these days deemed unsafe, so the chemicals used at NBI to dye these beautiful flags are now American made.

The story of how our flag is made will continue long after those that proudly wave it.

Photography by Michael Woolsey