April 22, 2018

The USMRR Flag at Aquia Landing

 Several years ago I found a letter at the National Archives from W.W. Wright to Ada Anderson describing a flag and pole the USMRR wanted to erect at Aquia Landing. I blogged about it here.

Today, I decided to build it. I started with the flag. Due to a math error, I made the flag about half as big as the letter specified. But I got the math right and made the pole the full 100 feet tall and configured as a ship's mast.

It took a surprising long time to get all the parts made, the lines run and the flag installed. In looking at it, the flag seemed out of proportion. Then I realized that I had made an error with the flag. It was too small by 50 percent!

 A 30 foot flag is larger than a box car. I had to print it as separate sheets and glue them together. I used a 30 percent  cotton rag paper as it holds up better in handling and folding. I used spray adhesive to glue the two halves. Then I spayed the ink with Matte Clear acrylic to seal the colors, in case I needed to wet the paper to better shape it, which I didn't need to do in this case.

The trick to making a paper flag hang more realistically is to make it a parallelogram and not a rectangle. Paper flags are too thick and stiff to hang like a real cloth flag. By making it a parallelogram you can better simulate the way an actual flag hangs. In a real flag the fabric distorts on the bias.

For woven textiles,  the bias is at 45 degrees to its warp and weft threads. Every piece of woven fabric has two biases, perpendicular to each other. Woven fabric is more elastic as well as more fluid in the bias direction, compared to the straight and cross threads. This property facilitates garments and garment details that require extra elasticity, drapability or flexibility, such as bias-cut skirts and dresses, neckties, piping trims and decorations, bound seams, etc. It also helps determine how a flag drapes from a pole when there is little breeze.

I decided to embellish the flag with the text "United States Military Railroad" since many flags in that era were customized in some way or another.


The flag dominates the wye at Aquia Landing. 

As printed and before shaping. Note, it is not a rectangle. 

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