CdA Activities Back on Track

Doña Máxima Checking on Cochineal Dye Pot

Doña Máxima Checking on Cochineal Dye Pot

It took the Club de Artesanas (CdA) members two dye days to attend to the pile of hand spun skeins of wool yarn that had been dropped off by the Huancarani weavers. All had requested cochineal tones, which was a good thing because this dry season is unusually dry and there are few local dye plant options. The municipality is rationing water and the hours it is available grow shorter weekly. Multiple containers were filled in the early mornings to handle the rinsing of the dyed skeins. Because both stovetop burners were not in use it was decided to premordant some of the skeins. On the first dye day alum was the premordant and on the 2nd dye day copper sulfate was used to dye the first batch of skeins a dark burgundy. There is something very satisfying about watching a clothesline full of newly dyed skeins drip drying.

Amy and CdA Women Working on Lace Knitting Samples

Amy and CdA Women Working on Lace Knitting Samples

Amy Booth played hooky from her volunteer work in Cochabamba with Performing Life Bolivia to volunteer in Independencia for a week. She enjoys lace knitting, so Lynne Watterson’s book, “The Very Easy Guide to Lace Knitting” which Dorinda’s Aunt Laura had mailed to the CdA years ago finally came off the shelf. It is now looking much used and loved. Amy worked with the women to knit a variety of samples from the book, and then they all trooped off to a local yarn store so the women could buy yarn to make sleeveless tops using their preferred stitches from the samples. Amy squeezed in 3 weaving classes with Doña Maxima and worked diligently into the wee hours completing her homework.

Amy´s Weaving Class with Doña Máxima

Amy´s Weaving Class with Doña Máxima

Although Amy had packed light for her week-long stay, she´d brought along 3 juggling clubs. John Connell, the founder of Performing Life, and volunteers teach circus skills to street kids. The kids use the skills to earn money by juggling at intersections around Cochabamba. The program is expanding to include aerial silks and trapeze and classes will be available for a fee to help subsidize the organization´s other programs. Amy is the second PAZA volunteer who spent years of her youth in a circus training program in London. She found out about Performing Life and PAZA through Sustainable Bolivia, a U.S. foundation in Cochabamba that has supported PAZA´s volunteer program and sales of the weavings since 2010.

CdA Kid, Emily, Marching with the 1st Graders

CdA Kid, Emily, Marching with the 1st Graders

August 6th, is Independence Day in Bolivia and the festivities kick off with a lantern parade the night before. A number of the CdA kids took advantage of the Club’s supplies to make their candle lit lanterns. Luckily, it was a lantern parade because the town’s electricity went off just as the parade started and didn´t resume until a few hours after it ended. The flaming “2016” sign of the graduating class was spectacular, as were the stars on the dark walk home. Everybody was dressed in their best for the official parade on August 6th. Volunteer Joey Hentzler arrived on the bus from Cochabamba during the parade and had no trouble finding Amy and Dorinda in the crowd.

Joey and the CdA Kids

Joey and the CdA Kids

Joey worked with the CdA kids teaching them about Día de los Muertos traditions in Mexico. They also used up leftover tissue paper from lantern making to make paper cutouts that were taped to string like prayer flags and taken home to decorate empty walls.

Everyone Smiled When the Juggling Clubs Came Out

Everyone Smiled When the Juggling Clubs Came Out

Alas, CdA trainer and weaver, Doña Maxima, was not sitting on pins and needles waiting to update Dorinda on 3-1/2 months of local gossip. In fact, local news is rarely related unless a topic is brought up that triggers a story. It was a bit of a shock while trolling for recent news to hear 2 year old scoop! While discussing the lack of retention of new CdA members, Doña Máxima said a member lasted only 1 year because her husband told her traditional weaving is something that only poor women do! It shouldn´t be a surprise considering that as rapidly changing rural Bolivia “progresses” the locals who now think of themselves as “modern” would spurn anything that might connect them with being old-fashioned. Doña Máxima didn´t appear disturbed about the attitude, her expression conveyed, “what idiots.” She did say that the CdA would probably be more successful in teaching weaving to young teens who live with female relative(s) who are weavers and can help at home.

Spinning with Joy, Photo Credit: Shelby Deaton

Spinning with Joy, Photo Credit: Shelby Deaton

Thank you Dorothy Thursby and Susie Strauss for your ongoing support of the PAZA activities. Thank you George Dutcher for your contribution to the soap making project. The smelly chore of rendering a mix of beef and sheep fat was done last week so the CdA members will be making lovely scented milled soap in the weeks ahead.

Thank you Jere Thompson for your help in getting the word out in our search for 2 volunteers for Spinzilla Spinning Week! We do need to raise funds for this year´s expenses which are estimated at $1,000. That account is currently in the red. Please consider supporting the Team Warmis Phuskadoras by clicking on the Donate button above. Thank you! Dorinda Dutcher, August 19, 2016

July, Back in Independencia!

Alison and CdA Women Knitting Rabbit Face Booties

Alison and CdA Women Knitting Rabbit Face Booties

There is no place like home, and after a 3-1/2 month absence it seemed like Paradise to settle back into the PAZA rooms at the Casa Callejas in Independencia. Thanks to Laverne Waddington and the orders she drummed up through her weaving workshops in the U.S., the weavers had stayed busy. Doña Máxima had carried on the Club de Artesanas (CdA) once a week and had managed the orders, but she was relieved that activities would return to normal at the PAZA workshop.

Alison Teaching the Chicas How to Weave Bracelets

Alison Teaching the Chicas How to Weave Bracelets

Former volunteer and friend, Alison Walsh, arrived for a 2 week visit in mid-July. She made a sample of a babyt bootie with a rabbit face from a new pattern book in the PAZA library. All the CdA women decided they had a little one for whom they wanted to knit a pair. When Alison wasn´t knitting she was weaving bracelets in bright colors. One Saturday morning the CdA chicas admired the array of bracelets adorning Alison´s arms and asked if she would teach them, which she did immediately. Why haven´t the chicas shown any interest in learning the local traditional weaving techniques? Is it because it´s something grandmother used to do, thus old fashioned and not “cool”?

Alison & Doña Máxima Enjoy Campo Hospitality

Alison & Doña Máxima Enjoy Campo Hospitality

It’s time to think about prepping the house gardens for summer’s rainy season. Alison and Doña Máxima were game for an adventure, so a truck was hired to head to Doña Gregoria´s farm to buy “fertilizer”. Sheep are corralled every night, and the manure is raked out and piled high outside the corral, where it is allowed to age. There was no way to contact Doña Gregoria, but she hurriedly appeared in answer to the shouted greetings and her frantically barking dogs. Her alpacas and llamas were disappearing from view having been let loose earlier to graze. It´s dry season so they cover a lot of territory each day to feed. Doña Gregoria doesn´t have much company so she talked animatedly to Doña Maxima while serving her unexpected guests steaming plates of boiled potatoes and boiled corn.

Note the Weavings Used for the Cargo Rigging

Note the Weavings Used for the Cargo Rigging

Doña Máxima was handed a rope and sent her off in search of a burro to haul the gunny sacks of “fertilizer” up the mountain to the truck. Alison, 5 year old Cristian who is Doña Máxima´s grandson, and Dorinda began filling light-weight plastic gunny sacks they´d brought along. Prior to the appearance of plastic sacks, rural women wove “costales”, gunny sacks, out of llama fiber or local wool. Doña Máxima returned having had no luck in finding the burro.

Fiber or plastic gunny sacks are sewn shut for transport, so women´s sombreros are usually adorned with fake flowers and a large sewing needle or two. Doña Gregoria came out of her courtyard bearing rope halters, cargo padding, and straps. She picked out 2 nearby small horses that she and Doña Máxima quickly captured and loaded with the bags of fertilizer. Weavings are often used as part of the cargo rigging and wrap around under the tail of the horse or burro. The walk back to the truck didn´t look steep, but at the higher altitude the horses´ pace of walk 10 steps then take a break was ideal. Once the bags were loaded on the truck, the horses were let loose to roll and wander off. The humans all plopped in the shade of the pickup to enjoy a campo picnic – a communal pot of rice, potato, and fried eggs.

Hey Dad, This Is a Lot More Work Than a Trip to Home Depot!

Hey Dad, This Is a Lot More Work Than a Trip to Home Depot!

Team registration for Spinzilla Spinning Week took place on Sundays when the Huancarani weavers were in town for market day. Doña Beatriz who is a CdA participant when she´s not farming in her community of Sanipaya confirmed that she and 5 other spinners from Sanipaya wished to participate again. Unfortunately, there has been no response to the request for 2 volunteers for Spinzilla Spinning Week. The team slot for a foreign spinner will be held until the end of August, at which time it will be released to a local spinner. A social media volunteer is still needed in Independencia during the October 2 to 9 Spinning Week plus the 2 additional days to help with measuring the yardage.

Doñas Felicidad, Justina, and Toribia Waiting to Measure

Doñas Felicidad, Justina, and Toribia Waiting to Measure

The Spinzilla expenses are estimated to run about the same as last year which was $1,005, and those funds must be raised so that the event doesn´t impact other PAZA activities. PAZA has currently raised $0…. HELP?!  All the spinners win first prize to encourage teamwork and to recognize all of them equally for their phenomenal spinning ability. The prize they chose for this year is a new petticoat. The other expenses are vehicle contracts for 4 trips to the rural communities, extra days of wages for Doña Máxima, and the end of the year awards ceremony and feast. Please note on the Paypal form attached to the “Donate” button above that your contribution is for Spinzilla. Thank you from the Spinzilla team Warmis Phuskadoras!  Dorinda Dutcher, August 8, 2016

2016 WARP Conference

Everyone Benefits During Informal Gatherings

Everyone Benefits During Informal Gatherings

Nobody remains a stranger for long at a WARP Conference where new friendships take off like wildfire. All the laughter and joy was rejuvenating, although the to-do list from all the brainstorming sessions remains daunting.

Following a three and a half month absence from Independencia, it was wonderful to be able to reminisce with Kelsey Wiskirchen, Katie Simmons, and Susan Weltman who have all made the Andean trek to meet the weavers and to check out the PAZA activities first hand. Life wouldn’t be complete without checking in annually with the hardcore WARP members who attend each conference. A lot of work gets done,

It´s Always Worthwhile to Pay Close Attention to Philis´s Tales

It´s Always Worthwhile to Pay Close Attention to Philis´s Tales

but why can’t work always be as much fun as it is when Teena Jennings-Rentenaar Judy Newland, Jackie Abrams, Linda Temple, Deborah Brandon, Linda Ligon, Carol Pierce, Sara Lamb, Cathie Joslyn, and Adrienne Sloane are involved? The Conference closed with everybody on the edge of their chairs wondering what witty remarks, Cindy Lair, WARP President would come up with as she auctioned off folk art pieces at the fundraising Conference finale. One must always find an opportunity for sitting and chatting with Philis Alvic, who subtly weaves pearls of wisdom into very entertaining stories. Deborah Chandler couldn’t attend this year and was missed. Her mentoring since 2010 has been invaluable in PAZA’s progress. What would one have to pay a life coach for the suggestions and wisdom she so generously and graciously dispenses?

Doña Nilda Callañuapa and a CTTC weaver

Doña Nilda Callañuapa and a CTTC weaver

The annual WARP Conference tends to move around the country, although it’s moving out of country to Oaxaca Mexico next year. Thanks to the scheduling coinciding with IFAM this year the attendance was larger than usual. It had been a few years, so what fun to catch up with Edwina Bringle, Sam Brown, Tara Miller, Dale Fairbanks, Carol Ireland, Judy Krol, Karen Sprenger, and Susie Strauss. Personal thank yous on behalf of the Cloth Roads Team Warmis Phuskadoras were passed on to one of the original Spinzilla organizers, Liz Gipson, who helped with arrangements for the team the past 2 years. A quick verbal exchange with Marilyn Murphy, Cloth Roads cofounder and the team’s TNNA sponsor, set the ball rolling for the team’s participation this year.

Marilyn, Kelsey, and Jon at the Book Signing

Marilyn, Kelsey, and Jon at the Book Signing

A highlight at the Conference was witnessing the arrival of Marilyn Anderson´s new hardback book hot off the press from Guatemala. The book is a text compilation of fading handicrafts drawing on her decades of travel and research in Guatemala and illustrated with her woodcut prints. The books arrived just in time for the Sunday afternoon book signing. Marilyn´s husband, Jon, had joined her this year and hopefully he will attend future conferences.

Marilyn Tries on a Stylish Poncho at the CTTC Booth at IFAM

Marilyn Tries on a Stylish Poncho at the CTTC Booth at IFAM

WARP connections tend to have a ripple effect. It was through WARP that PAZA heard about and received support to attend the first Tinkuy International Weaving Conference in Cusco, Peru in 2010. The Tinkuy is hosted by the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales de Cusco (CTTC) and their Director and WARP member, Doña Nilda Calluñuapa. In 2010, Dorinda and Doña Maxima roomed with WARP member Laverne Waddington. Laverne has placed annual weaving orders ever since and her exacting specifications have been fundamental in the improvement of weaving quality over the years. This year a number of weavers who host Laverne´s U.S. weaving workshops placed orders as well, including Marilyn Romatka, founder of Taproot Folk Arts. The WARP Conference provided the opportunity for several brainstorming sessions between Marilyn and Dorinda that went beyond what email correspondence would have provided.

Thank you Kelsey, Jackie, and Katie For Your Years on the Board!

Thank you Kelsey, Jackie, and Katie For Your Years on the Board!

Nancy Meffe has been a WARP member and a PAZA supporter for years, and attended this year’s WARP Conference. She sells her own weavings through craft fairs and donates the proceeds doing business as “Weaving for Women of the World”. When I’m asked about what one can do to be involved with weavers in marginalized communities because moving to a remote mountain village isn’t practical I cite Nancy’s work as an excellent example of weavers helping weavers.

Thanks to the WARP Board and to Rita Chapman the WARP Administrator the Conference was incredibly fun and productive! Wouldn´t you benefit from a few days a year spent with kindred spirits who stand together in defiance of the gaping maw of global cultural homogenization? What are you waiting for? Join WARP! Dorinda Dutcher, July 20, 2016

PAZA Attends IFAM

WARP Members Enjoying IFAM, Sara is a Hoot!

WARP Members Enjoying IFAM, Sara is a Hoot!

The Internet access in Independencia has dwindled to just email text, so it is back to blog postings once a month from Internet cafes in Cochabamba. A lot has happened since the last posting written from the U.S. in June!

The 2016 WARP annual conference was held in Santa Fe, NM to coincide with the 13th annual International Folk Art Market (IFAM). Thank you, WARP! The thought of applying for a vendor booth would have remained just a thought if PAZA hadn’t had an opportunity to visit and evaluate IFAM as a possible sales venue for the Bolivian weavings. Dorinda volunteered 2 shifts at the booth of the only Bolivian artisans out of the 165 vendors. Bolivia is a small landlocked country, but it is a jewel due to the diversity, be it biological or ethnic and cultural.

Ines and Doña Ique

Ines and Doña Ique

Doña Ique Etacore represented the Cheque Oitedie Cooperative, a group of women who weave bags with plant fiber. She is an Ayoreo woman from what was once the heavily forested area of Santa Cruz which is a world away from Andean Bolivia. She was accompanied by Ing. Ines Hinojasa, an ethnobotanist from La Paz. This was their 6th IFAM year. Ing. Ines was outgoing, spoke excellent English, and remembered shoppers who had bought bags in past years. Doña Ique sat weaving with a needle or “spinning” the plant fiber by rolling it along her leg using a touch of ash to soften it, shyly responding when addressed. She and Ines made an excellent team.

The Stunning Guatemalan Hooked Rugs

The Stunning Guatemalan Hooked Rugs

One of the most eye catching booths was the hooked rugs made by Guatemalan artists using traditional motifs. The beginning of their fascinating success story goes to WARP member, Mary Anne Wise of Cultural Cloth.

The 2 days at IFAM did alleviate some concerns about applying, but the big question of what type of weavings to submit with the application was not answered. The folksy welcoming ambience of IFAM would help with the cultural shock of Doña Maxima and another weaver´s first visit to the U.S. Two weavers would have to make the trip together as a Quechua support system for each other. Through years of sales experiences PAZA has learned that the traditional products such as the ch´uspas (shoulder bags), fajas (belts), and tapa bancas (runners), don´t have a national or foreign market. Although the techniques for making the weavings for the yoga mat straps and zippered pouches are ancient, the end product is not traditional. So, the products that have a market aren´t appropriate for IFAM.

Doña Maxima Weaving a Motif Using the Embedded Double Weave Technique

Doña Maxima Weaving a Motif Using the Embedded Double Weave Technique

The most exquisite examples of woven folk art from this Andean area are the aguayos. Two identical weavings are woven on the rustic loom and stitched together forming a square that is used by men and women to carry cargo, infants, or toddlers on the back. Today, most of the aguayos in local use are one piece of inexpensive factory woven cloth. Last year the blog postings included Doña Máxima´s progress in weaving 2 aguayos as part of the required mayoral regalia for her husband’s term as mayor of Huancarani. She used brightly colored synthetic yarn which is “traditional” for rituals and celebrations as opposed to naturally dyed local wool yarn. She wove only one with a column of motifs using the embedded double weave technique. She hadn´t used that time consuming technique in over 20 years. IFAM seems like the ideal event to showcase that disappearing weaving

WARP Member Katie Simmons Bought Doña Justina´s Natural Dyed Aguayo in Independencia

WARP Member Katie Simmons Bought Doña Justina´s Natural Dyed Aguayo in Independencia

technique, but would the aguayos have a market? Should they be woven with synthetic yarn instead of the natural dyed wool used in all weavings currently sold through PAZA? The synthetic yarn wouldn´t be attractive to moths. Weaving production would have to begin a year before the application acceptance would be received. How could PAZA afford to prepay for weavings, especially considering that they haven’t found a market outside of an event like IFAM?

Hmmm, what are your thoughts? There is a need for some collective brainstorming. In the meantime, PAZA needs to focus on covering the 2016 Spinzilla expenses and then look ahead to taking 3 weavers to the November 2017 Tinkuy, International Weaving Conference, in Cusco, Peru. Dorinda Dutcher, July 18, 2016

Rescuing Andean Natural Dye Techniques

Tradition Use of Weavings with Synthetic Dyes and Natural Wool Tones

Tradition Use of Weavings with Synthetic Dyes and Natural Wool Tones

The Huancarani weavers grew up using brightly colored synthetic yarn for weaving and knitting festive wear and cheap easy to use powdered synthetic dyes for dyeing their local wool for colorful blankets. Undyed wool was frequently used for functional products such as woven gunny sacks and ponchos with the variety of natural colors allowing for contrasting stripes and designs. In 2007, the knowledge of natural dye techniques were fading but not lost when they asked Dorinda, a Peace Corps volunteer, if she could help them to rescue their natural dye techniques.

Smushing Macha Macha Berries, Huancarani, 2008

Smushing Macha Macha Berries, Huancarani, 2008

The first natural dye workshop in Huancarani took place in mid-March of 2008 and was a collaboration between the municipal government who supplied the transportation and a Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP) grant that paid the wages for a local woman who was hired as the local natural dye trainer and Doña Máxima who was contracted as the workshop coordinator and translator. The trainer had walked high into the mountains to harvest the macha macha berries for the workshop. Upon arrival in Huancarani the women took off to harvest suyku which was in full bloom. The leaves and flowers were stripped into a second borrowed dye pot. The trainer´s knowledge stemmed from a workshop a non-government agency had provided not from natural dye techniques handed down through generations. She had no knowledge of mordants and added a handful of salt, half a dozen halved limes, and a cup of vinegar to every dye pot. Today, suyku is the favorite local dye plant because of the range of hues the weavers have learned how to achieve through Ph manipulation.

1st Suyku Dye Pot Results, Huancarani, 2008

1st Suyku Dye Pot Results, Huancarani, 2008

The second dye workshop in Huancarani was the focus of the PCPP grant that paid for the Arte Andino Board of Directors who were all rural weavers to visit Independencia for 3 days of workshops. They brought cochineal for dyeing and alum, iron sulfate, and copper sulfate to teach the mordant process. The Huancarani weavers were intrigued with cochineal having participated in a cochineal workshop, but there had been no follow-up to the 1 day of training and they had no knowledge as to the cultivation of cochineal. It grows in Bolivia on the nopal cactus that resides at lower drier elevations. The mordants used regularly today are alum and millu a local mineral salt. Copper sulfate is used occasionally with plants and citric acid with cochineal for orange tones. Salt and chicha vinegar are also used on occasion.

1st Dye Workshop in Chuñavi Chico, 2009

1st Dye Workshop in Chuñavi Chico, 2009

Everyone´s interest in local natural dyes was piqued but Dorinda´s Peace Corps service ended abruptly and a few months later the Peace Corps left Bolivia. Three months later she returned on her own to carry on the natural dye workshops, and continued to call her volunteer efforts PAZA. Although Peace Corps had left a non-profit organization called KURMI had begun working in Independencia funded by a development contract for the empowerment of women. The local government continued to provide transportation to rural communities so that Dorinda, the local trainer and Doña Máxima could offer dye workshops in 5 rural communities. KURMI staff would occasionally participate in a workshop to present topics on women´s rights.

Don Jorge Teaching Intensive Course, Independencia 2009

Don Jorge Teaching Intensive Course, Independencia 2009

The mordant processes learned from Arte Andino were well practiced and in July of 2009 thanks to the collaboration of the municipal government, KURMI, and PAZA an extraordinary 3 day intensive natural dye workshop was held in Independencia to train local trainers. KURMI brought weavers from other highland communities with whom they worked. The trainer, Don Jorge Gandarillas, had been the Arte Andino natural dye trainer and had over 50 years of experience working with Andean textile revival projects. He was a tough taskmaster and at the end of the course he assigned the participants the task of teaching a dye class in their community and returning in October to share their experience with the group.

Group Photo with Results of Don Jorge´s July Workshops, 2009

Group Photo with Results of Don Jorge´s July Workshops, 2009

The group met again in October without the support of the municipal government, and sadly it was the last collaboration in support of the Andean weaving tradition in the municipality. Friendships had formed between the weavers from out of town and the local weavers. Upon meeting again, they exchanged information about their successful and unsuccessful experiments with the plethora of Andean dye plants. Each participant had to role play as a natural dye trainer in front of the class.

Doña Narciza Role Playing as a Local Natural Dye Training, October 2009

Doña Narciza Role Playing as a Local Natural Dye Training, October 2009

Without municipal government support PAZA couldn´t afford to visit rural communities and has worked only in Huancarani and Independencia since 2010. The local trainer did not attend Don Jorge´s workshops and her lack of interest resulted in Doña Máxima taking over as local trainer. The macha macha berry introduced in the first workshop produces a fugitive dye and hasn´t been used since 2009.  In 2011, KURMI´s development project was not renewed and their office closed.

Limited Natural Dye Palette, 2008

Limited Natural Dye Palette, 2008

Through the years the Huancarani and Club de Artesana (CdA) weavers have learned to eyeball their dye pots to make the minute adjustments needed to arrive at the tones they seek for the color coordination of their weavings. The first dye workshop had taken place towards the end of the rainy season when flowers, leaves and berries were at their peak, so it shouldn´t have been such a shock to realize that quick roadside gathering of dye plants wasn’t possible year around.

If called upon, many of the Huancarani weavers and all of the CdA women members could serve as natural dye trainers. The PAZA curriculum for the 5 part progressive natural dye workshop program is waiting in the wings for when collaboration to rescue and preserve the textile heritage of Independencia is once again possible.

Laverne´s May Order

Laverne´s May Order

Thank you Laverne Waddington for your latest weaving order that is keeping Doña Máxima and the weavers in Independencia busy. A hug and thanks to Joyce Dutcher for her contribution to the Dutcher Family Fund that serves as the revolving fund to pay the weavers as soon as they complete an order. Thank you Dorothy Thursby and Nancy Meffe for your long-term support that allows all the PAZA activities to continue day in and day out.

Hallelujah, it´s time to rev up for 2016 Spinzilla! Thank you Marilyn Murphy and Cloth Roads for sponsoring the Team Warmis Phuskadoras for their 3rd annual competition!

I look forward to seeing and/or meeting all of you who will be attending the WARP Conference and/or Santa Fe International Folk Art Mart. Dorinda Dutcher, June 27, 2016.

Looking Back to 2010

Dye Workshop in Huancarani, 2011

Dye Workshop in Huancarani, 2011

This posting reflects back on 2010 which was a roller coaster ride through PAZA´s darkest moments that sowed the seeds of what PAZA is today.

In early 2010, PAZA received a poorly typed letter stating that the gringa should leave Independencia because she was stealing the weaving tradition to take to her country. The author was never publicly identified but a few vocal women rallied to his cause. PAZA began in 2007 as a Peace Corps secondary project. The collaboration with the local government until 2009 made it possible to offer natural dye workshops in 5 rural communities and 2 intensive 3 day natural dye workshops in Independencia.

4 of These Weavings Went to France This Month

4 of These Weavings Went to France This Month

All local collaboration ended at a town meeting in October 2010 when the few contra-PAZA women who had been elected into positions of political authority stood on the stage shaking their fingers at Doña Maxima and Dorinda. They passionately exclaimed that they knew all that there was to know about traditional weavings and the market, so there was no need for PAZA’s technical assistance. Only the weavers of Doña Maxima´s community of Huancarani stood with PAZA. They are the only rural community of weavers in the area selling their weavings today.

Celebrating after Receiving the Official CAH Documents

Celebrating after Receiving the Official CAH Documents

The Huancarani weavers were going to hold a hunger strike to force local authorities to support PAZA. They were headed off by the Director of a local radio station. He suggested they form a legal weaving association to circumnavigate local politics. That led to 2 years of working through the bureaucratic red tape to form the Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani (CAH). It allows the weavers to seek financial support outside of the politically controlled municipal budget, which they’ve only done once as a training exercise. The members of CAH are responsible for setting the pricing for the weavings at their annual meeting each December. The Spinzilla Spinning competition is CAH´s biggest event of the year.

The Original Chicas, 2 Graduated and are Moms, 1 is Current CdA Chica Trainer

The Original Chicas, 2 Graduated and are Moms, 1 is Current CdA Chica Trainer

The Club de Chicas was born in 2010 out of the need to provide Doña Máxima with steady work and to help meet PAZA´s and CAH´s objective to preserve the local weaving tradition. The Club began during the school vacation, but when school started the 12 year old chicas didn´t have time to attend. Doña Máxima mentioned that women were interested in joining so several were invited to participate on Tuesdays and Thursdays. A few years later the Club name was changed to the Club de Artesanas (CdA). The original chicas learned to weave and were selling the weavings but by the time they turned 16 they had lost interest in the Club and in weaving. Motivating teens to learn how to weave is probably the biggest challenge facing any textile revival project. It is also the key to sustainability of any craft.

Katie was the 1st Volunteer and Made Her 4th Trip This Year

Katie was the 1st Volunteer and Made Her 4th Trip This Year

The women and chicas are highly skilled in the fiber arts, but have no resources to stretch themselves as artists. The rural communities still don´t have electricity to all homes. There are no magazines or newspapers for sale in Independencia. Few know about the postal service which is only available in the cities. Smart phones and tablets are making the Internet more accessible to youths thanks to data credit packages purchased through the cell phone companies, but the benefits for many adults are limited due to the high rate of illiteracy.

The Chicas Made Many Skirts Using the Pattern and Method Kelsey Taught Them

The Chicas Made Many Skirts Using the Pattern and Method Kelsey Taught Them

The PAZA volunteer program began in 2010 to provide technical assistance. The weavers have learned new fiber arts skills but still have not seen a foreigner weave or spin. For all they know foreigners do need to steal the Andean weaving tradition to learn how to spin and weave.

The CAH members have tossed down the gauntlet asking for a foreigner to join their 2016 Spinzilla team for Spinning Week which will be October 3rd to the 9th. The team has not had any inquiries for what will be an exceptional technical and cultural exchange for a foreign spinner. PAZA also needs a social media coordinator for the week to make the annual video clip.

The Chicas Learning to Weave, 2011

The Chicas Learning to Weave, 2011

Besides providing much needed technical assistance the volunteer program helps offset PAZA expenses. PAZA has no institutional support. Fundraising efforts began in 2010 when Dorinda attended her 1st  Weave a Real Peace (WARP) Conference. PAZA is supported by individuals (mainly women who are weavers) who understand the importance of helping women to help themselves so they can care for their families. Medical costs and school supplies are the two main uses for income generated from the sales of the weavings.

All CAH Meeting Minutes Are Signed by All But 1 Member Who Signs with a Thumbprint

All CAH Meeting Minutes Are Signed by All But 1 Member Who Signs with a Thumbprint

In 2010, PAZA sold 250 weavings for a total of $3,464 that went to 55 weavers in 9 communities. Last year PAZA sold 123 weavings for a total of $2,583 that went to 26 weavers of which 24 live in Huancarani or are members of the Club de Artesanas. Thanks to Laverne Waddington’s annual and additional orders and WARP member Susan Weltman’s February visit and order PAZA has already exceeded the 2015 sales by $300.

The saddest thing about the 2010 political brou-ha-ha is that the folly of a few was detrimental to the preservation of the weaving tradition and to all the weavers who could have been earning an income through the years. PAZA hopes that local collaboration will begin anew in the near future. The past years have been well spent training women who can take leadership roles when that day arrives.

Prepping Skeins for the Dye Pot, Huancarani

Prepping Skeins for the Dye Pot, Huancarani

It takes a village…. You don’t have to travel to rural Bolivia to be part of the weavers’ amazing journey. The purchase of the weavings, the gifting of financial support, fundraising assistance, and help to connect with potential volunteers are needed so that in 6 years we can once again look back in amazement of what a collective grass roots effort can achieve. Dorinda Dutcher, May 22, 2016

P.S. I am in the U.S. and am filling weaving orders from the U.S. inventory, please e-mail inquiries to dkdutcher@hotmail.com. Thanks for the words of comfort! My father is hale and hearty following 3 heart procedures and my mother has a new hip. Doña Máxima is doing an excellent job of keeping the CdA running and managing weaving orders in Independencia.

Doña Máxima in Charge

Ah… Technical difficulties, always a learning experience. The April posing is duplicated to connect it to this current blog.

Doña Máxima in Charge

Doña Máxima in Charge

Doña Máxima took over at the helm of PAZA following Easter weekend when Dorinda made a hasty departure from Independencia in response to a family emergency in the U.S. The women of the Club de Artesanas (CdA) will meet once a week at Doña Máxima´s house. The Saturday morning program working with the teen girls will be discontinued until Dorinda´s return in July. The chicas know they can work on their weaving skills during Club days at Doña Máxima´s house.

Thanks to Jenny These Yoga Mat Straps Found Appreciative Owners in WA

Thanks to Jenny These Yoga Mat Straps Found Appreciative Owners in WA

Doña Máxima will open the PAZA store/workshop on Sunday mornings to work with the rural weavers who will be dropping off and picking up orders. Three months was spent in 2009 to simplify an accounting and inventory system that she could manage on her own. Although daunted by the responsibility and amount of money she must account for over the next 3-1/2 months, her body language said she accepted the challenge and she would strive to excel. The weavers have been riding high on the momentum built up thanks to the weaving orders received and completed the past 3 months. The momentum will continue as PAZA uses this opportunity to figure out how to operate if Dorinda needs to spend more time with family in the U.S.

Adviana & Her 3 Kids Enjoy Their 1st Easter Egg Hunt

Adviana & Her 3 Kids Enjoy Their 1st Easter Egg Hunt

Easter weekend went off as planned so Doña Mäxima´s grandchildren who had counted down the days until the Saturday for dyeing Easter eggs were not disappointed. CdA member Adviana was invited to bring her children for their first Easter egg hunt. The prowess of those who had the experience last year was noticeable, but when the hunt was over the kids voluntarily divided up the treats in an equitable manner.

One More Dye Day Is Needed This Month

One More Dye Day Is Needed This Month

On Monday, Dorinda and Doña Máxima discussed what needed to happen over the next few months and figure out a budget. One of the sewing machines, sewing notions, material, and a table were carried up to her house so the CdA women could work on sewing wing notions, material, and a table were carried up to her house so the CdA women could work on sewing projects. Funds were left for the CdA women to buy 5 skeins of yarn for crochet or knitting projects ($7 each). They will need to haul the dye equipment up the hill to Doña Máxima´s house for at least 1 more dye day for the popular cochineal reds.

Spinzilla 2015 Prizes Being Handed Out in Huancarani

Spinzilla 2015 Prizes Being Handed Out in Huancarani

Travel expenses were figured for Doña Máxima to travel to Cochabamba to collect a wire transfer, drop off weavings for travel to the U.S., and to get cost estimates for the petticoat material that the CdA members will sew for the 2016 Spinzilla participants. All win first prize, and the weavers voted on a petticoat as this year’s prize. When Dorinda returns to Independencia in July it will be time for the Spinzilla team registration and putting together a budget for the fundraising effort. Last year $975 was raised almost covering the $1,005 in expenses.

Doña Máxima Weaving 2 Yoga Mat Straps at a Time

Doña Máxima Weaving 2 Yoga Mat Straps at a Time

To complicate Dorinda´s last day in Independencia, a transformer in the neighborhood blew mid-afternoon knocking out electricity on the block. Once the sun set the remaining chores to close down the house and pack were done by the light of 3 candles. It is never easy to leave Independencia, but it is a luxury to spend time in the U.S., and always a pleasure to return to Bolivia.

Thank you Lyn Lucas and Dorothy Thursby-Stern for your ongoing devotion and support of the weavers. Doña Máxima is ready to take on the responsibilities laid on her shoulders, but it has taken all these years of training and experience to set her up for success. Thank you Linda Switzer for your timely help. A huge hug and thank you to Susan Weltman for the donation she sent which is due to her savvy marketing of the weavings. She not only marketed the weavings but came to Bolivia to pick them up!

Warping a Faja for Laverne´s Order Last January

Warping a Faja for Laverne´s Order Last January

Thanks to Laverne Waddington, an order was received by Dorinda in the U.S., communicated to Doña Máxima in Independencia, and will arrive in the U.S. with the yoga mat straps Dorinda had ordered and originally planned to bring to the U.S. in May.

PAZA Friend Dorothy and Doña Máxima at 2013 Tinkuy

PAZA Friend Dorothy and Doña Máxima at 2013 Tinkuy

The expenses needed to cover Dorinda´s emergency trip and extended U.S. visit would have been difficult to meet without the generosity of family members. Thank you all. Her sincere gratitude goes to Nancy La Scola for the visit and the PAZA support. The past month has been a reality check as to the financial imprudence of 10 years of volunteering. More help is needed in the funding of the PAZA activities. Spinzilla 2016 is rapidly approaching. Looking further ahead the expenses to take 3 weavers to the Tinkuy International Weaving Conference in Cusco in 2017 will need to be met.  Please help by purchasing weavings, making a donation, or helping to get the word out about the volunteer program. Inquiries for purchasing the weavings can be sent to dkdutcher@hotmail.com.

The monthly blog postings will continue and feature photos and tales from the past that disappeared into a black hole in cyberspace along with the original blog site in 2013. Dorinda Dutcher, April 20, 2016