Club de Artesanas

Much Ado About Handspun Yarn

Fleece Buying Frenzy, 2009

The importance of the fleece selected to wash, spin, wind into skeins, dye, wind into a ball, and ply for weaving was first discussed at a natural dye workshop in 2009.  Don Jorge, the trainer, spoke about fiber and its role as the basis for the quality of a weaving. At his 2nd workshop a few months later a participant from another municipality started a shopping frenzy when she laid out long fibered fleece from her highland herd. Now, due to their 3 years of experience in preparing for Spinzilla Spinning Week and the weaving orders with specifications the Independencia weavers understand that they need to spend the time to seek out quality fleece to purchase.

Doña Maxima Shears Sheepskin for Spinzilla 2016

In 2014, under the sponsorship of Cloth Roads, the first Warmis Phuskadoras Spinzilla team was formed and that first competition taught the spinners the need to stock up on fleece prior to Spinning Week. Discussion on how to spin more yarn during the 2015 Spinzilla Spinning week led to most of the participants preparing their roving in advance.

Vilma & Doña Maxima Preparing Roving, Spinzilla 2016

Prior to Spinning Week 2016, the Club de Artesanas (CdA) members of the team purchased fleece in ample time to wash, shear, and prepare roving. Four months later several scheduled dye days had to be cancelled due to lack of skeins for the dye pots. Doña Máxima bemoaned the dark strands running through the white fleece she had purchased from a butcher. She spoke covetously of the white sheepskins Doña Paulina had purchased during a trip to the Oruro market which at an elevation of 12,159´ explains the long fiber of the fleece. Doña Antonia had spun gray fleece to be used au natural, although she already had plenty. Vilma was discontented with her Spinzilla spun yarn for the dye pot, but was spinning and gloating a bit as the proud owner of 2 bags of white fleece her husband had purchased post-Spinzilla in his rural community of Sanipaya.

Natural and Natural Dyed Yarn Use in Doña Máxima´s Weaving, 2012

Team registration for Spinzilla 2017 will take place during July. Thanks to the ongoing orders the weavers are receiving from Laverne Waddington´s weaving workshops they know that they need to have a wide color palette of spun yarn. Doña Máxima plans to encourage the Spinzilla spinners to inventory their yarn supply and make their fleece purchases based on need. White fleece is used for dyeing and for weaving the figures. Black fleece has become difficult to find locally and is used as the background for the woven motifs. Natural gray and tan fleece is spun to use au natural in the weavings. Longer fiber will speed up the spinning during Spinning Week.

Doña Toribia´s Herd in Background, Spinzilla Spinning Week 2014

In past years, CdA members were able to supplement their handspun yarn by purchasing skeins from PAZA. The demand is increasing and the supply decreasing through competition for purchasing the handspun yarn from a dwindling number of the elderly spinners in Huancarani. This year PAZA was able to purchase just enough to dye one skein per CdA dye pot. Those skeins are purchased at cost by the Huancarani weavers who don´t do their own dyeing. The CdA members were cautioned that PAZA was not going to have spun yarn for sale, but it took the cancelled dye days to stimulate discussion on how to take advantage of Spinzilla Spinning Week to be better prepared for the 2018 rainy season dye days.

Vilma Beating The Debris from a Sheep Skin

Many of the Huancarani spinners buy fleece because their forests are home to thistles and spiny trees and shrubs which denude their flocks. Other spinners buy fleece because they herd goats. During a March dye day Doña Máxima examined dyed skeins that had all come out of the same dye pot but with varied results and commented on the quality of the fleece from sheared live sheep vs. a sheepskin from the butcher and plans to buy the former in the future.

A huge thank you to the Warmis Phuskadoras Spinzilla’s TNNA sponsor Cloth Roads who has generously donated the sponsor fee and the participant fee this year!

Wool Scouring Results, Joanna’s Demo

A hug and thank you to Karen Sprenger, friend, WARP member, Tinkuy participant, and backstrap weaver, who organized 3 fiber events for Dorinda in the Kansas City area this spring. Besides sales from the vendor table at the Missouri Spin-In, Dorinda was richly rewarded in the responses to her queries to other vendors on a myriad of fiber related topics. The wool scouring demonstration presented by Joanna Mohn of Wildflower Acres clarified numerous online investigations that had resulted in a hazy understanding.

Karen & Marcia, Arrow Rock Handweaver’s Guild President, Leaving Meeting

Karen and Dorinda gave joint presentations on backstrap weaving and Andean natural dyeing at the Fiber Guild of Greater Kansas City and the Arrow Rock Handweaver´s Guild. Thank you to all the participants who made the events so enjoyable and for your interest and support of the Bolivian weavers.

Nelva’s Card & Bracelet, She Loves Art Projects

Over the past 2 months, the women of the Club de Artesanas (CdA) have sewn blouses, practiced new figures from Laverne Waddington´s weaving book, worked on their crochet projects, and hopefully figured out what to do with the 2 gunny sacks of alpaca fiber. Thanks to an alpaca breeder at the Missouri Spin-In, Dorinda did learn how to wash alpaca fiber (one gunny sack is a spinner´s nightmare because it was washed the same way that fleece is washed).

Inspiration For Nelva’s Drawing, Jonathan McCarthy Photo, Spinzilla 2014

On June 9th CdA members, kids, and a dog or two will greet Dorinda at the Independencia bus station dancing in anticipation of what is in the heavy bags to be hauled uphill. The books, puzzles, sketch pads and markers, quilting material, and the treasure trove of jewels from thrift stores will be used for projects that one day might generate income for a CdA member. Long and short term CdA projects are possible thanks to the ongoing support of Dorothy Thursby, Lyn Lucas, and Susan Weltman. The weavers will also be happy to hear of the generous support from Teasel Hill Angoras, Sheryl Shreve, and the Arizona weavers who received their order of Independencia weavings last month. Thank you!   Dorinda Dutcher, May 29, 2017

Rainy Season Natural Dyeing Continues

Khesi Misa and Sumakaya Dye Pots

Most mornings in March began with the sun’s rise backlighting a veil of pearly fog. It was anyone’s guess as to whether the fog would swirl and rise or darken and lower with rain. One morning when blue sky and the sun won out 3 women of the Club de Artesanas (CdA) headed out with machetes and aguayos to harvest a few branches of mature sumakaya trees. It is a once a year expedition and Doña Maxima’s comment upon returning with their treasure was it was “mucho sacrificio”. The path to the area they’d harvested in the past was impassable due to undergrowth and a trail that had disappeared into a swamp. They were forced to climb higher in search of another grove.

Lots of Rinsing Needed for Khesi Misa Dyed Skeins

After lunch they worked with knives and machetes to remove the rough outer bark and scrape the bright orange inner bark into the dye pot. The bark was boiled for an hour before the first skeins were added to the pot. The weavers knew their ancestresses had used sumakaya as a dye but few had dyed with natural dyes prior to the first PAZA dye workshops in 2008. Through the years they’ve learned that the bark must be used immediately upon harvest or the dye is lost. Stored dye baths ferment and also lose their dye potency. What was learned from this dye pot is that the 1st batch of skeins should be boiled than left overnight in the dye bath and the dyeing continue the following day. The 2nd batch of skeins that did overnight in the dye bath were a glorious shade of orange. In the future the annual sumakaya dye bath will be a 2 day event for maximum dye strength.

Results of Khesi Misa and Sumakaya Dye Baths

The women had collected rock and tree lichen while out harvesting the sumakaya. It was put to soak for a few hours and then added to the khesi misa dye bath. Khesi misa is soot that collects in a straw thatched roof over a kitchen wood fire. The CdA had not dyed with it in 4 years because it is getting harder to find as thatched roofs are replaced with longer lasting tin roofing sheets. The request for khesi misa browns in the weavings prompted Doña Máxima to search more diligently and she finally located half a bucket from an “abuelita” (little grandmother) who lives alone. The abuelita asked to be paid in noodles, bread, and bananas instead of in cash. There is now an ongoing business relationship with the abuelita to supply the CdA with khesi misa.

Masiq’o Flowers on Left and Suyku Leaves on the Right

The khesi misa/lichen dye pot was begun late in the day along with the sumakaya dye bath so the 2nd skeins were left in the dye bath overnight. The skeins took a lot of rinsing, but the results were a lovely dark chocolate from the first dye bath and a milk chocolate for the 2nd dye bath. Doña Máxima commented that it was worth the sacrifice as she admired the row of sumakaya dyed orange and khesi misa dyed brown skeins hanging from the clothes line.

Two weeks later a vehicle was hired to take the CdA members higher into the mountains to harvest the flower masiq´o (Bidens andicola) and suyku (Tagetes graveotens Schultz). The delicate yellow masiq´o flowers are available during March and when mordanted with alum the flowers gift a lovely pale orange dye. The suyku was divided into a dye pot with leaves and a dye pot for the clusters of the bright yellow flowers. Although the CdA members have dyed twice with suyku this year they manipulated the dye baths with mordants and achieved different hues that will coordinate breathtakingly with their formerly dyed skeins.

Masiq’o and Suyku Dye Day Results

The final dye day of the season was with suyku the women gathered within walking distance of the PAZA workshop and cochineal. Three Huancarani weavers including Maribel had dropped off skeins to be dyed. Maribel had purchased spun yarn from an abuelita in Huancarani since she is not a spinner.The abuelita still spins but no longer has the strength to weave and appreciated being able to sell her handspun yarn. Doña Máxima and the other women compared the suyku dye lots for the past 3 months and decided that the suyku growing at elevations higher than Independencia’s 7,943’ above sea level provide a stronger dye. Next year PAZA will spring for the $7 – $15 vehicle contract fee to harvest suyku at a higher elevation. Besides, everybody loves an excursion.

Doña Rufina Weaves, Adviana Advises, and Vilma Crochets a Baby Blanket for her Sister

The newest member of the Club de Artesanas is Doña Rufina who spent almost every moment learning to weave new figures. She has a toddler and a kindergartner who is rapidly learning Spanish at school. Quechua is still the prevalent language in the homes of the CdA women and chicas. The CdA trainers, Abigail and Jhesica, did a great job leading the activities of jewelry making with wire and crochet thread as well as a day of soap making.

Doña Máxima and Vilma Take a Last Look at Weavings U.S. Bound

Dorinda traveled to the U.S. in early April carrying 3 orders bound for Laverne’s Waddington’s weaving students and workshop hosts. Thank you for those orders, the requests arrived in time for the women to weave and collect payment to pay for this year’s school supplies and uniforms. Doña Máxima will continue to open the PAZA workshop for Club de Artesanas activities on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The women have sewing and crochet projects besides plying the yarn that they´ve dyed. The chicas know they can drop by in the afternoons for weaving instruction. Doña Máxima will work in the PAZA workshop on Sunday mornings to be available to the Huancarani weavers in town for market day.

Thank you Lyn Lucas and Dorothy Thursby for your faith in and continued support of the weavers and chicas. A huge hug and thank you for support from high school friend, Rob Nash, whose life journey also meandered from the plains of Kansas to the Andes. Dorinda Dutcher, April 22, 2017

Dye Season is Here

Road Side Suyku Above the Town of Independencia

The rains have fallen daily since early February so hopefully water won’t need to be rationed during the dry season. The school year started at the beginning of February, so Independencia went from a ghost town to action packed overnight. Carnaval week fell at the end of the month which gave water balloonists all month to practice.

Mordants, Assistants, and Suyku

The Club de Artesanas (CdA) spent a day collecting and preparing plant dyes and 2 days dyeing. The first dye day was devoted to cochineal due to the skeins the Huancarani weavers had dropped off with requests for reds and pinks. The dye pots for the 2nd dye day were loaded with leaves of local plants. The women of the CdA didn’t have to walk far to gather suyku, which was just starting to flower. Hitchhiking in vain the following day Dorinda trudged an hour up the mountain to a higher altitude where chilka grows prolifically along the road side. The rains had washed the road dust off the leaves so they were ready for the dye pot. A bit of suyku was gathered on the descent through its preferred altitude for growth. The local government has invested in heavy

Grinding Cochineal

equipment the past 5 years and uses it to widen the roads by pushing dirt, gravel, and roadside vegetation down the mountainside. Former plant collecting areas are inaccessible because of the drop off between the road and where the plants are now growing. The suyku seems to like disturbed soil and continues to proliferate along the roadside, except where it can’t get a foothold due to the ever growing erosion from the road maintenance practices.

The chilka leaves dyed the skeins a grey green when mordanted with millu, a mineral from the La Paz area that darkens dye baths. The dye was not as strong as it is during the dry season, so suyku was added to the 2nd dye bath with a few grams of copper sulfate and the result was a deep forest green. The dye in the suyku pot was strong enough for 4 dye baths resulting in a variety of yellow-greens and bronzes. Doña Máxima, Vilma, and Doña Antonia used a hand cranked cereal mill to grind the last of the 5 kilos of cochineal that PAZA purchased in 2012 at $36 a kilo. Inquiries have been made concerning the purchase of another 5 kilos, but a source has not been nailed down yet.

CdA Weavers Happy with Their Suyku and Chilka Dyed Skeins

A number of the Huancarani weavers visited Sunday mornings after selling their peaches at the weekly market in Independencia. They are working on weavings to fill orders from students of Laverne Waddington’s upcoming workshops in Florida and Arizona. Maribel showed up one Sunday with a huge smile and her first completed weaving. Weaving finally clicked with her thanks to Laverne’s help using diagrams to learn the motifs in Huancarani in January. Maribel’s weaving fit the specifications for a yoga mat strap, so of course it was purchased by PAZA as motivation for her to continue. Doña Máxima explained the importance of introducing more colors in the weavings. Maribel had used the yarn her mother-in-law had provided her. PAZA gifted her 4 natural dyed skeins to begin her own stash. She will have to ply them. She can add to her collection by purchasing more CdA dyed skeins at cost or by buying spun skeins and paying the CdA to dye them for 28 cents a skein or she can dye her own. She is the 118th weaver to sell through PAZA since 2008. Alas, many of the other 117 weavers have migrated, retired from weaving, or passed away. Last year there were only 30 active weavers.

“Sold!” – Maribel’s 1st Weaving with Figure Learned from Laverne

The CdA women were asked what projects they would like to work on this year. They asked for yarn to crochet shawls. A rural woman can never have enough shawls, especially if she has children. Kids always appear underdressed when it comes to bundling up in sweaters and coats. Moms usually carry at least one extra shawl to wrap up a shivering or slumbering child. Club members have to learn something new with each project so the women are looking at shawls of family and friends to find a granny square they wish to copy.

They asked about sewing projects, but without volunteer help in using the patterns a lot of material is wasted and clothing usually doesn’t fit properly. Unfortunately, there are no volunteers on the horizon, which is the CdA’s main resource for learning new fiber skills. It has been a couple of years since the CdA women have sewn the style of blouses they wear. Since they need to practice with the sewing machines blouses will be a 2017 project for the women. The blouse material can be purchased in Cochabamba whereas the flannel, quilt squares, and much of the material used for child and teen clothing is donated and carried down from the U.S.

Chicas Making Jewelry on a Rainy Saturday

Abigail and Jhesica, the 2 oldest teens in the Club are doing great taking turns as the CdA chicas trainer. They planned out 2 months of activities for Saturday mornings. Abigail was the trainer for the 1st Saturday of the session and coerced Dorinda into teaching a yoga class then Dorinda coerced them into helping with a birthday sign to send to her niece. The next rainy Saturday 6 chicas crowded into the library to make wire and bead jewelry, listen to an Enrique Iglesias DVD, chat, and giggle. The 2 younger siblings who were along played with blocks and puzzles. Last Saturday only 2 teens showed up and they stayed an extra 2 hours utterly engrossed in crocheting bracelets adorned with beads.

Doñas Justina and Máxima, Tinkuy Bound

There will be only 3 PAZA participants at the Tinkuy in Cusco this November. Doña Máxima´s daughter Zoraida will not be able to make the trip because she is expecting her 2nd child later this year. Her 8 year old is wild with anticipation to finally have her long time wish for a sibling fulfilled.

Thanks to the orders from Laverne´s upcoming workshops, the weavers have been able to make it through the annual school supply and uniform buying frenzy without panicking about how to pay for it all. Thank you to Lyn Lucas, Irene Schmoller, Dorothy Thursby, and Susan Long for your ongoing support that allows PAZA to launch another year of Club de Artesanas (CdA) activities and to continue to help the Huancarani weavers towards their goal of preserving their weaving tradition and caring for their families thanks to their earnings from the sales of their weavings. Dorinda Dutcher, March 6, 2017

Summer Vacation Wrap Up Activities

Abi and Veronica Spending a Morning Drawing

Abi and Veronica Spending a Morning Drawing

Summer vacation is rolling towards its conclusion and the Club de Artesanas (CdA) chicas will return to classes on February 6th. They will continue Club activities on Saturday morning and for lack of an older teen familiar with CdA the older chicas who are sophomores this year will trade off as the CdA Saturday trainer. This is their 3rd year as Club members and the wage that goes with the additional responsibility will help them with their school expenses. The trainers the last 2 years were high school seniors who had been CdA members in their early teens. By training the sophomores this year with the younger girls looking on the Club will have Saturday trainers for the teen activities for years to come.

Veronica´s First Completed Weaving

Veronica´s First Completed Weaving

The chicas know they can drop by on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons to work on their weavings with Doña Máxima. Unfortunately, during the vacation they did not graduate to the leaning frame loom nor acquire the expertise to begin weaving to sell. However, thanks to Laverne Waddington´s visit they have interest so there is hope.

Fiesta de Don Jorge´s Grand March

Fiesta de Don Jorge´s Grand March

On January 26th, the Club de Artesanas (CdA) held the annual Fiesta de Don Jorge with mask and crown making, a grand march around the yard, games, dance competition, piñata bashing, lunch, and finally chocolate cake and a rousing round of  “Feliz Cumpleaños, Don Jorge”. Seven year old Emily sang her heart out and was bothered that Don Jorge was not able to be at the party for all the fun, especially since he´d bought the puzzles and decks of cards that were handed out as game prizes. Don Jorge is Dorinda´s father who will receive the sign, photos, and best

Short Work of a Piñata That Was a Lot of Work

Short Work of a Piñata That Was a Lot of Work

wishes for his February birthday. Doña Máxima, Doña Antonia, and Adviana spent hours peeling and cutting enough potatoes for 20 into thick French fries. There is something about wood smoke infused French fries that can´t be explained but should be experienced. While Doña Máxima manned the fry pot over an outdoor fire, Zoraida cooked beef and chorizo in a savory broth in the kitchen. Everyone was given a plate of French fries topped with the meat to adorn as they wished with onion, tomato, chilies, hard-boiled eggs, and condiments. This Bolivian dish is called Pique Macho and is a fiesta standard.

Weaving New Figures After Laverne´s Visit

Weaving New Figures After Laverne´s Visit

Laverne Waddington sent 2 orders shortly after returning to her home in Santa Cruz from Independencia. The women spent time during Club days warping their weavings to fill the orders because the process of rolling balls of yarn along the ground the length of the weaving takes two. Six Huancarani weavers showed up two Sundays after Laverne´s visit and breathed a collective sigh of relief to find weaving orders waiting for them. The beginning of the school year creates a state of panic among the rural women who must miraculously come up with the cash to pay for the ever increasing lists of school supplies and uniforms with no source of a cash income. Two of the Huancarani weavers left skeins to be dyed with cochineal, so February kicked off with a dye day.

Warping Adviana´s Weaving That is Destined for Florida

Warping Adviana´s Weaving That is Destined for Florida

The Club members will be dyeing regularly for the next few months of the rainy season so Doña Máxima looked through the dye supplies and came up with a list of needs. There is no online purchasing so sources have been physically tracked down through the years. The 2 gallon chicha vinegar container will be refilled early next month following Carnaval. The bag of salt chunks needs replenishing, so more will be purchased at a meat counter in Cochabamba´s huge vendor market. The unprocessed salt is used for meat preservation since many parts of the country don´t have electricity or refrigeration. A kilo of millu rocks, a mordant used to darken dye baths, needs to be purchased in the charm (ritual supply) section of the vendor market. The challah offering to the Pacha Mama (Earth Mother) that will be burned on the Tuesday of Carnaval will be purchased at the same time. There is plenty alum, cream of tartar, copper sulfate, and citric acid. Those purchases are made at a posh chemical store in Cochabamba.

Dye Day, Adviana Crocheting, Zoraida Knitting, and Doña Máxima Dealing with the Chicha Vinegar

Dye Day, Adviana Crocheting, Zoraida Knitting, and Doña Máxima Dealing with the Chicha Vinegar

It is getting harder and harder to find khesi misa, the soot from kitchen cook fires, that dyes the wool skeins a rich brown that is popular with foreign buyers. It only accumulates in kitchens that have a thatched roof, and most homes have switched to tin roofs which don´t need replacing every year. Cochineal needs to be ground in the grain grinder, and we will need to look for a new source before year´s end because our previous purveyor has retired.

February will pass quickly as the CdA transitions into a new year-long session with a few new members. The weavers will be busy with orders. Life will just start to settle into a routine before being disrupted by the frenzied week of Carnaval which begins on February 26th. Because of the fiestas and fairs that happen regularly until December life really never will settle into a routine, which isn’t a bad thing…

Thank you Lyn Lucas and Dorothy Thursby for kicking off the year by supporting PAZA!  Dorinda Dutcher, February 3, 2017

Independencia Weave-In

Laverne Demonstrating on Her Back Strap Loom

Laverne Demonstrating on Her Back Strap Loom

Laverne Waddington crosses continents in her annual travels to teach weaving workshops. Early in January she crossed Bolivia to visit Independencia. The flight from her home town of Santa Cruz in eastern Bolivia to Miami is shorter than the bus ride from Cochabamba where Dorinda met her to Independencia. Laverne, Doña Máxima, and Dorinda were roommates at the 2010 Tinkuy in Cusco Peru having connected as the only Bolivian based Weave a Real Peace (WARP) members. Doña Máxima and Dorinda have tried to lure Laverne to Independencia ever since.

The Chicas Finally "Got It" by Using Laverne´s Diagrams

The Chicas Finally “Got It” by Using Laverne´s Diagrams

Laverne´s first day in Independencia dawned sunny and Club de Artesanas (CdA) members began arriving casting shy glances at the foreign weaver they had heard so much about. Nobody knew what to expect because none of the local weavers had seen a foreigner weave. She worked with the adult weavers Adviana, Doña Antonia, and Doña Máxima and they worked with the teens. FINALLY, it happened! The weaving fever was contagious and the teens caught it and chose to weave all day along with the women. Not only were they weaving and enjoying it but the barrier between the adults and teens disappeared as all worked together.

Warping the Leaning Frame Loom

Warping the Leaning Frame Loom

Doña Máxima remembered that there were still a few spools of  Pearly Perle cotton yarn that Irene Schmoller, founder of Cotton Clouds, had donated in 2013. She used it to warp straps for the chicas. The cotton yarn is smoother than the handspun wool yarn making it easier to move the heddle strings and less frustrating for beginners. Doñas Máxima and Antonia warped a short leaning frame loom so Laverne could teach one of the larger motifs from her book.

Doña Máxima Getting One on One Instruction from Laverne

Doña Máxima Getting One on One Instruction from Laverne

The CdA members had a day off while Laverne went to Huancarani. On Saturday which was her last day Adviana, Doña Máxima, and the chicas returned to learn more figures. The weavers sat every which way on the walkway weaving and enjoying the quiet camaraderie and crisp freshness following the night´s rainfall. Laverne wove on her back strap loom when not helping others. Doña Máxima sat on a low stool in front of the leaning frame loom. Adviana and the chicas worked figures using body tension looms tied to the flower garden railing or their big toes. The scene was everything the Club de Artesanas was supposed to be when it began as the Club de Chicas in 2010 to teach teens to weave.

Laverne Picked Up Her 2017 Faja Order in Independencia

Laverne Picked Up Her 2017 Faja Order in Independencia

Laverne began placing weaving orders in 2011 with specifications and an expectation that the quality meet her standards. She has critiqued as necessary sending accompanying photos which have been Doña Máxima´s main learning tool on working with the weavers to improve the quality of the weavings for the foreign market. The weaving orders for “La Laverna” are given to the weavers who have listened and learned through the years and who have progressed from weaver, as are all women in the rural communities, to artist. In 2016, Laverne let it be known in her U.S. weaving workshops that weavings could be ordered from the Independencia weavers and those sales helped to make it the best year for sales so far. Laverne is too modest to ´fess up to all the help she has provided the Independencia weavers, but she has been instrumental in their growth as artists. Her visit was an inspirational and extraordinary three days for everyone involved. Dorinda Dutcher, January 15, 2017

Holiday Season in Independencia

PAZA has been busy the past few months but due to Internet access problems there has been a 2 month lag in the blog postings.

Cutting Out Cookies

Cutting Out Cookies

December’s headliner was that the rain began falling regularly. Cool overcast skies finally replaced the merciless summer sun. The fields of spindly corn were in agony trying to survive in soil more akin to cement than a growing medium.

The 5 Club de Artesanas (CdA) members who are enrolled in this summer vacation session spent the week prior to Christmas baking and decorating dozens of cookies. They took home a festive variety bag to share with their families. On the morning of Christmas Eve the 3 chicas formed animal figures out of a sweet bread dough to adorn and take home. The father of Abigail and Nelva was so impressed he splurged on coffee to accompany the treat. Although coffee grows in Bolivia it is not a customary drink in Independencia and it is the instant variety that prevails. All 3 chicas said enjoying the baked goods was all that their families did in celebration of the holidays.

Cookie Bags Headed Home to Share with Families

Cookie Bags Headed Home to Share with Families

After Christmas the CdA members spent weeks working on paper maché piñatas for their families using a star shaped balloon as a mold. The piñatas are not a Bolivian tradition, but all knew of them. Creating a burro shaped piñata for the upcoming Fiesta de Don Jorge was a group project.

Making Piñatas

Making Piñatas

PAZA rarely gifts cash to weavers or the CdA members. An exception was made for 12 year old CdA member, Veronica. She cancelled the plan to bake her birthday cake on Christmas Day in the PAZA kitchen because she had to work. Her father was going to take her to Cochabamba for dental care but the family was strapped for cash so she found a weekend job cleaning the public bathroom at the market. Not complaining but with a swollen jaw and expression that was heart rending she asked to reschedule the baking of her birthday cake. Her face lit up in a smile when PAZA gifted her 100 Bs. ($14.50) to cover the roundtrip bus fare to Cochabamba for her and her father. They spent almost a week in Cochabamba while she recovered from having 2 molars surgically removed.

Abigail & Nelva's Piñata Made Their Sister´s January Birthday More Festive

Abigail & Nelva’s Piñata Made Their Sister´s January Birthday More Festive

All Club members get to bake a cake to take home for their birthday so Veronica will bake and share a belated birthday cake and piñata bashing with her siblings. Her piñata is a work of art, she spent 4 days decorating it with pleated streamers and rosettes, so maybe they won´t be bashing her piñata. PAZA gifts toothbrushes regularly to its members. There seems to be headway being made in the understanding of preventative dental care, which is a good thing considering the baked goods and sweets that are part of all celebrations and the CdA activities.

Frying Outdoors Makes Cleanup Easier

Frying Outdoors Makes Cleanup Easier

New Year´s Day fell on a Sunday, so Doña Máxima and Dorinda invited the Huancarani weavers to drop by the PAZA workshop for api and pastel. Api is made by dissolving powdered corn in boiling water spiced with cinnamon and cloves and sweetened with sugar. A pastel is bread dough with a cheese filling that is rolled thin and deep-fried so that it puffs up and the cheese melts into gooey yumminess. A sprinkling of powdered sugar completes the confection. Doña Maxima and Doña Antonia built a fire under the outdoor grill to fry the pasteles. Huancarani weavers arrived around the same time so all sat to sip, eat, and chat. The comfortable camaraderie on a fresh cool sunny morning was the perfect way to ring in the New Year.

In a blast from the past high school friend, Dave Miller, contacted Dorinda while she was in Kansas to ask about buying some weavings for Christmas presents. Thank you Dave, for your support and your interest! Thank you Kris Fister for your continued generous support and we look forward to knitting with you here in Independencia one day. Thank you Lyn Lucas, Dorothy Thursby, and Nancy Meffe for your ongoing support that makes it possible to keep chugging along on track plus allows some leeway to diverge off track. Dorinda Dutcher, January 4, 2017

Happy Holidays to All!

A Day with CdA - Crocheting, Warping a Weaving, Playing

A Day with CdA – Crocheting, Warping a Weaving, Playing

Doña Maxima is keeping the Club de Artesanas (CdA) activities going twice a week and is opening the PAZA workshop on Sundays to meet with the Huancarani weavers. PAZA activities will kick into high gear when Dorinda returns to Independencia next week laden with activity supplies.

Veronica In Tank Top She Crocheted and Necklace She Made

Veronica In Tank Top She Crocheted and Necklace She Made

The Club members will discover the world of micro-organisms using the new PAZA microscope. Have you ever checked out the difference between llama, alpaca, and sheep fiber at a microscopic level? New books and puzzles will enchant the kids who will attend the CdA with their moms now that summer vacation has begun. The teens will be excited about the new jewelry making supplies. Although piñatas are not a Bolivian tradition, the CdA members will be making piñatas to take home for family fun along with the cookies they bake for holiday cheer. A batch of basic soap is waiting to be milled into fragrant fine soap.

Palca River, 2007, Access for Washing Everything is Just Above the Bridge

Palca River, 2007, Access for Washing Everything is Just Above the Bridge

Hallelujah! Doña Máxima reported that the rains have arrived! The Bolivian President, Evo Morales, declared a State of Emergency late last month due to the continued drought and water shortage caused by disappearing glaciers and 2 years of low precipitation. Water is life. It can also be full of life. What will be observed in water samples taken from the Palca River above and below where laundry and vehicles are washed and from the water sources folks use for drinking water? The microscope may provide that missing piece that will make the PAZA basic sanitation classes more effective.

Annual CAH Weavers' Meeting, Huancarani, 2015

Annual CAH Weavers’ Meeting, Huancarani, 2015

Doña Máxima and Doña Justina have scheduled the annual Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani (CAH) meeting for December 22nd. The topics to be discussed are Spinzilla, weaving pricing for 2017, and the upcoming Tinkuy International Weaving Conference. The weavers will enjoy the annual feast and Spinzilla Award´s Ceremony after the meeting. Many thanks to Constance Hall, Spinzilla Team Captain Coordinator, for her help in drawing attention to the support needs of the Cloth Roads Warmis Phuskadoras team and for providing each spinner with a Certificate of Participation.

Thanks to Karen Sprenger, a backstrap loom weaver living in Kansas, the time Dorinda will be spending in Kansas will be a boon for PAZA. In 2013, Karen met Doña Máxima and Dorinda at the 2nd Tinkuy International Weaving Conference in Cusco. Last July, she and Dorinda crossed paths at the annual WARP Conference. She asked what she could do to help, and what fun wonderful help she´s providing!

pillowcoversIn November, she made arrangements for Dorinda to talk about PAZA at the KC Fiber Guild meeting. Karen had brought 3 Independencia weavings that she had received at the weaving workshops she´s taken from Laverne Waddington. What a wonderful surprise to see the weavings again and to note how Laverne uses them in her workshops. The visual impact of the more recent weavings was striking due to how the weavers have evolved in their use of color. Karen is making arrangements for a joint presentation with Dorinda in April 2017 and participation in a 1 day craft fair.

These Yoga Mat Straps Found Appreciative Owners in WA.  Photo Credit: Jenny Heard

These Yoga Mat Straps Found Appreciative Owners in WA. Photo Credit: Jenny Heard

A few sales were made at the KC Guild meeting and then Karen took the remaining PAZA weavings to sell alongside her work at the Craft Fair in Burlington, Kansas. This is exactly the help the weavers desperately need. Thanks to Laverne Waddington 2016 has been the year of highest sales.

There is quite a bit of weaving inventory in the U.S., so if you are looking for a handcrafted gift for the holidays or anytime please send inquiries via an e-mail to The 2 sizes of yoga mat straps fit a ¼” thick exercise mat ($22) or a 1/8” thick sticky mat ($21). Other items include wallets ($15), zippered pouches ($16), and there are 2 chuspitas ($25) woven by Doña Maxima. Also available are the pillow covers ($27), belts ($16), and guitar straps ($20).

The CdA Cookie Baking Will Bring Holiday Cheer to Many Families

The CdA Cookie Baking Will Bring Holiday Cheer to Many Families

Thanks and a holiday hug go out to PAZA´s longtime supporters Lyn Lucas, Dorothy Thursby, and Nancy Meffe. Thank you Krieger Family and Shannon Dutcher for your support. Joyce Dutcher, PAZA´s earliest and strongest supporter, has again donated to the Dutcher Family Fund which is the revolving fund allowing immediate payment to the weavers for their work. Thanks mom!

¡Wishing all of you a Merry Holiday Season and all the Best in 2017! Dorinda Dutcher, December 7, 2016