October was a super month. The Cloth Roads team Warmis Phuskadoras placed 27th out of the 70 Spinzilla teams. The Bolivian spinners spun 70,390 yards, all with drop spindles. The annual celebratory feast and prize awarding ceremony will be held in Huancarani in early January. Shawls are the prize for all of the Huancarani spinners. Doña Máxima will be purchasing the shawl material in Cochabamba and the Club de Artesanas (CdA) members will be crocheting the borders thus personalizing each shawl. Vilma, a skilled crocheter, was tasked with crocheting a sample to determine the labor cost and the amount of yarn needed per shawl. Her timid response was a wage of 25 Bs.($3.60) per shawl. After much discussion about the time and skill required PAZA upped the wage to 60 Bs. ($8.65).
Australia has come to Independencia. The year started out with Laverne Waddington’s visit to teach weaving workshops. She is from Australia but has made eastern Bolivia her home. The next visitor was Australian Cheryl Cartwright who was a great help in measuring the 70,390 yards of Spinning Week yarn. After Spinzilla, the women and teens spent a week working on cross stitch projects taught by Rebecca Rich. She lugged the workshop supplies and wonderful chocolate treats from Melbourne to Argentina, Peru, and finally Bolivia. The chicas adored their new friend. They showed up during the CdA weekday afternoons as well as Saturdays to work on their projects and hang out with Rebecca. She brought out a world map at least 3 times and all grew to feel a familiarity with that world so far away. You can read Rebecca’s visit report on the volunteer page of this blog.
An observation that Rebecca made early on was that Doña Antonia would probably make fewer mistakes if she had glasses. Rumor has it that the women will not wear glasses because glasses are associated with being educated, which most of the rural women are not. PAZA handed out about 2 dozen reading glasses a few years ago, but there wasn’t any encouragement to continue. Shockingly, Doña Antonia agreed that she needed glasses and actually wore them thus dramatically improving the quality of the butterfly she was cross stitching on a bib for her granddaughter. PAZA will invest in more reading glasses.
Preparation for the Tinkuy reached a feverish pitch by the end of the month, although the planning began in June. Doña Justina dropped by most Sundays to practice her part of the presentation. One Sunday she brought the ch’uspa she had just completed to wear in the Inauguration Parade. Doña Máxima practiced the presentation 3 times a week with the PowerPoint photos and without them at home. She spent her spare time during the day at her loom and worked on her beaded tulmas (braid adornments) at night. The local carpenter took forever to finish the simple leaning frame loom so that Vilma could get started on sewing a carrying case for the loom, flag pole, and the banner pole. Her results created a panic because the length was unmanageable. The preparation provided many a challenge, but, whew, the work is done, and all that is left is to enter the magical colorful whirlwind that is Tinkuy.
The CdA will close for 3 weeks, allowing Doña Maxima a breather following the Tinkuy. She plans to spend a few days in Cochabamba to make the purchases for the Spinzilla prizes and enjoy her daughter Zoraida´s 4 month old baby girl. Yes, 8 year old Zuni finally has a sibling! Many have met Zuni who as a toddler spent long days playing in the PAZA sales tent at Cochabamba craft fairs. Dorinda is headed to the U.S. after the Tinkuy and will return to Independencia in late December. She will be accompanied by volunteer Surya de Wit who has been considering a visit to
Independencia since 2013 when she was an artist-in-residence for Sustainable Bolivia. Surya draws, paints, and uses textiles in her art. The teens are excited about an opportunity to progress with their drawing skills. The women are curious about learning new dye techniques.
Thank you Rebecca for your kindness and generosity. Thank you Lyn Lucas and Dorothy Thursby, we look forward to seeing you at in Cusco where you will finally get to see for yourselves the results of your years of continued support! We are so excited about seeing everyone at the Tinkuy! Dorinda Dutcher, October 30, 2017