March was a busy month for the Club de Artesanas (CdA) members. The chicas joined the women on Thursday afternoons to make jewelry to sell at the Feria de la Chirimoya, Independencia’s harvest fair which will take place on May 3rd. The sun shone every Saturday morning on Reyna’s classes with the 4 CdA chicas as they laughed, chatted, and crocheted in the garden.
The CdA women made 10 batches (60 bars) of milled soap out of the second big batch of basic soap (water, lye, and rendered tallow). Even using benzoin and/or Vitamin E as preservatives, the batches made with herbs (rosemary, lavender), avocado, and flower petals all oxidized brown or with brown stains. The carrot soap turned out a lovely orange and stayed that way and the cucumber mint soap didn’t change color. Inexpensive fragrances
were purchased in Cochabamba, and the rose scent was a huge hit with all the CdA women. The bars were handed out as samples for feedback on the quality. The 3rd batch of basic soap is drying, and the 60 bars it will produce will be for sold at the PAZA booth at the fair in May.
Political elections take place every 5 years, and the local elections were held on March 29th. The mayoral candidate from the Movimiento a Socialismo (MAS) political party stopped by the PAZA workshop a week prior to the election. He left impressed with all that Doña Máxima showed him and he promised that there would be local government support should he win the election. MAS is the political
party of President Evo Morales, who began his 3rd term in January, so the party has clout. The MAS mayoral candidate won, so it´s going to be interesting to see what new opportunities appear for PAZA, the Huancarani weavers, and weavers in other rural communities.
The weavers of Huancarani came to Independencia in a cargo truck late Saturday afternoon to sell their produce and to vote on Sunday. The first planning meeting for Spinzilla 2015 took place Saturday evening. Eleven of last year´s Spinzilla participants attended, and all are enthusiastic about participating in October. They decided on 3 rule changes. The first is that all participants will pay 10 Bolivianos ($1.45) of the $10 participant entry fee. PAZA supporters covered the fee last year so that the women wouldn´t
hesitate to enter their first international spinning competition because of the cost. The second rule change was that all participants will receive the same prize. The third rule change is that every participant must sign up for themselves at the PAZA workshop/store. Last year 2 spinners were disqualified for adding to their balls of yarn because they wanted to win one of the top six prizes. Both had been signed up by somebody else, so it´s possible the rules were not fully explained to them.
No fundraising effort has been made to support PAZA’s activities in over a year, and it is time. The year’s ongoing expenses of offering the CdA activities 2-1/2 times a week and the upcoming expenses of the 2015 WARP Conference and the Spinzilla spinning competition cannot be covered. The volunteer program has not pulled its weight in the past year to help offset expenses. Help to reach potential fiber arts volunteers is needed. The program has been a good fit for students who have taught fiber arts workshops to CdA members which allowed them to develop relationships with the women and teens. Through those relationships the students obtained the information for their research on a wide variety of studies including Latin America studies, gender studies, development of rural economies, and preservation of cultural identity. Dorinda Dutcher, April 5, 2015