The annual Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani (CAH) meeting and Spinzilla Celebration were held outside under brooding clouds. Once again, Doña Toribia donated her wood burning oven and it was fired up before the contingent from Independencia arrived with the 49 pounds of beef cutlets, a first time veggie option, tomatoes, oil, condiments, and sodas for the feast. Weavers arrived singly or in pairs dragging branches for firewood or with an aguayo filled with just harvested potatoes or onions. Doña Toribia donated iceberg lettuce for the salad which is rarely seen and never for sale in the Independencia market. All set about prepping the food and laying it in metal trays. Branches of the
th’ola shrub were cut and tied to a branch to sweep the oven´s brick bottom clear of ash. Potatoes were tossed inside, the trays were set on top of them, and the oven cover which had been fashioned from the end of a metal 55 gallon drum was sealed shut with mud.
The women settled on the ground for the annual CAH meeting with one eye on the rain falling in the mountains to the south. A new Board of Directors was elected, Doña Justina stepped down as President after 4 years of doing an excellent job of coordinating with PAZA for workshops, meetings, and Spinzilla activities. Twenty year old Maribel took over as Secretary, because she can read and write she will set an example for the future of that Board position. Two new members joined CAH and both are younger than the median age of 60 for the members.
The weavers voted to establish an “honorable member” category to waive the annual membership fee for elderly women who no longer spin or weave but enjoy the social occasions the CAH offers. Doña Teodora, who hasn´t woven in decades because of a poorly healed broken shoulder, was CAH´s first honorary member.The new CAH banner was unveiled and all declared it to be beautiful. The intent was to have it made in time to take to the Tinkuy, but the 2 piece pole was so long that it was impractical for travel. It will be marched around the soccer field in Huancarani in the civic day parades.
The vote was unanimous to continue competing in Spinzilla Spinning Week. They asked, “Why wouldn´t we? We spin almost every day anyway and we like winning a prize”. They voted to raise their registration fee 5 Bs. from $1.44 to $2.16 per participant.
Time was spent discussing whether or not to raise the price of the weavings and a vote for a small increase was passed. Thanks to Laverne Waddington the fajas (4-1/2” x 71” bands) are gaining popularity with U.S. weavers who purchase them to design and cut up for their own projects. The 2018 price was raised from $35 to $38. The price for a kilo of handspun yarn went from $10 to $11.50.
Doña Máxima and Doña Justina spoke about their Tinkuy experiences and photos were passed around. The women were able to put a face with the name they hear many times during Spinzilla and that person is Marilyn Murphy of Cloth Roads who has sponsored the Bolivian team for 4 years. There were also photos of Doña Máxima and Doña Justina presenting thank you weavings to longtime supporters Lyn Lucas and Dorothy Thursby. The photo of Karen Sprenger at the exhibition table with Doña Justina and Doña Maxima was appropriate because she´s been instrumental in helping with sales of the inventory stored in Kansas.
The meeting adjourned and the moment all had been waiting for arrived with the handing out of the shawls, the 2017 Spinzilla prize for all participants. Doña Máxima and her daughter Zoraida had selected and purchased the cloth in Cochabamba. The material was divided between Zoraida and the CdA members so they could earn a wage by crocheting the borders and adding fringe, thus personalizing each shawl. Unfortunately, a group photo was not taken because the wind picked up and the clouds had darkened.
The 1 hour and 40 minute meeting coincided with the exact time needed for all to be pulled out of the oven cooked to perfection. Many of the women bagged up their meal and headed home hoping to stay ahead of the rain. The meal was a hurried affair as the rain rolled implacably towards the group. In the end all scurried to clean up and head home. Doña Narciza commented a few weeks later that the new shawls came in handy as a warm layer against the cold rain for her and her neighbors who had a long trek home. Thanks again to everyone who supported the Bolivian Spinzilla team! Dorinda Dutcher, January 8th, 2018