This posting is in response to questions received about the Bolivian weavings that recently arrived in the U.S. and are for sale.
The weavings are made from wool handspun and plyed with a drop spindle. Many of the Huancarani weavers have sold their flocks, so instead of spinning daily while shepherding they do their year’s worth of spinning during the Spinning Week competition which is the first week in October. Fleece can be purchased when vendors arrive from the highlands to sell during fiestas. In collaboration with the development work of PAZA the Huancarani weavers are working to rescue natural dye techniques. They dye their skeins with local plants and Bolivian cochineal. Two poles are notched to make their leaning frame looms.
Weavings For Sale for DYI Projects
Thanks to backstrap weaver and instructor, Laverne Waddington, the Bolivian weavers have found a niche market with her weaving students. The foreign weavers showcase the traditional weavings in their design work.
There are 4 sizes of weavings for designing your own project. The edges are unfinished. From left to right are
- Large Weaving, 63″ x 9.5″, $79
- Medium Weaving, 51″ x 7″, $50
- Faja, 70″ x 5″, $43
- Strap, 78″ x 1.5″, $22
The large weaving is the dimension used to cut and sew 6 zippered pouches. Another use would be to roll and sew the raw edges to make a lovely wall hanging. The weavers delight in seeing photos of how their weavings are used in DYI projects.
They used handspans and arm lengths to measure their weavings prior to having to learn how to use a tape measure to weave to PAZA´s specifications. PAZA doesn´t change the dimension specifications of the weavings in the orders unless buyer feedback indicates that a permanent change is warranted. They have accepted special orders on occasion.
The medium size weavings are a new dimension that just arrived in the U.S. Doña Arminda joined the Club de Artesanas last year. She knew how to weave blankets (ph´ullus) which don´t incorporate motifs. Doña Maxima taught her how to weave figures. She learned to weave figures from Doña Maxima and it wasn´t long before she began weaving straps to fill PAZA orders. This is her first medium sized weaving, and she´s justifiably proud to be earning more income to care for her 4 children. Abdiel, her youngest, is in the background.
Because this is a new size weaving, feedback would be appreciated on how it´s used for DYI projects, and if the dimensions need to be tweaked.
The faja dimensions were established by Laverne, who began ordering the weavings in 2014 for her backstrap weaving workshops. She monitored the quality of the fajas and if the specifications were not met then she sent feedback accompanied by photos. Her assistance to raise the weaving quality for the foreign market was timely. The sales within Bolivia declined as the price of the weavings rose towards a price the weavers deemed to be a fair price, which is a market outside of Bolivia. They approve the price they receive for their weavings annually.
Another traditional use for a faja (belt) is to tightly wrap a newborn so the babe can be safely carried in an aguayo.
The faja is the beige wrapping around the lower ¾ of Vilma’s youngest. The weavers usually personalize inexpensive factory made one-piece aguayos by crocheting on a border. If they find an unknown motif that they like in a machine made aguayo they will incorporate into their weavings. The older weavers still weave aguayos for Quechua celebrations. Those aguayos are 2 panels sewn together with a decorative stitch. The competitiveness they experienced as teens in weaving masterpieces to debut at Carnaval hasn’t diminished. Vilma, as a mother of 6 children under the age of 15 talked wistfully about weaving an aguayo, but her mother, Doña Maxima just smiled a knowing smile. There was almost a 30-year gap due to motherhood between the time Doña Maxima wove complex figures into aguayos as a teen and settled down to her loom to weave aguayos for her and her husband when he was elected mayor of Huancarani in 2015.
The straps are the dimension used to make the yoga mat straps for a 1/4” thick yoga mat. You can cut them to size for a DYI shoulder bag. When Doña Maxima determines that a new weaver has reached the skill level to receive PAZA orders she will assign a strap.
Ch´uspas (Shoulder Bags), $93
The ch´uspas are the only woven items that are not pre-ordered but selected on site in Independencia. Doña Eulalia wove cloth to cut and make 2 ch’uspas. The strap she wove for this ch’uspa has a figure running through it that she copied from one of Laverne Waddington´s books on weaving techniques. The ñawi (eye) is the motif for the rolled border that binds the strap to the bag and finishes the top edge.
When 2 or 3 ch’uspas are cut from the same weaving they are finished differently. All weavings are unique.
Zippered Pouches, 5” x 8” wide
With a Wrist Strap, $19
Without a Wrist Strap, $20
Vilma earns income for her family by cutting the large weavings pictured above to sew 6 pouches. Doña Maxima usually weaves the wrist straps so that they coordinate with the pouches.
Yoga Mat Straps
Straps for a 1/8” thick yoga mat, $22
Straps for a 1/4” thick yoga mat, $23
The yoga mat straps have Velcro closures
Thank you for your interest in the Bolivian weavers, sales are key to the sustainability of their weaving tradition. For sales inquiries, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Dorinda Dutcher, April 23, 2022