Club de Artesanas

Fiber Arts February

Jhesica With a Water Color Portrait She Painted

Annual registration for the Club de Artesanas (CdA) is in February after the women and teens settle back into Independencia following Carnaval. The CdA chicas lost teen trainer Abigail who now lives with a family in the city providing child care part time and attending high school. Jhesica who will turn 16 this year has begun her second year as a teen trainer and was thrilled to receive a wage increase.  Each of the 3 teens from last year invited a younger friend to join and many bring young siblings so there is a lot of youthful exuberance on Saturdays.

Adviana & Her 2 Youngest During 2017 Spinning Week

The CdA women will miss Adviana who has been a devoted member since 2012. She and her family migrated to the city during the vacation. She entered the Club as a timid 17 year old mother and through the years she learned to weave and was completing orders regularly to earn income to care for her 3 little ones. It was mainly because of her that the waiting list was added so more spinners could enjoy Spinzilla Spinning Week in 2017. She begged to spin, but not being up to speed with the older women the wait list was implemented to accommodate and encourage her and 2 other young spinners. May her self confidence that grew through the years of CdA activities and with the support and friendship of the other Club women enable her to transition successfully to life in the city.

Surya, Teens & Their Siblings Posing with Printed T-Shirts

Club attendance was low in February because of women and teens spending much of the month in their rural communities. That allowed Surya, the visiting artist, to work one on one with Club members as well as with groups. Doña Máxima learned to embroider in primary school and on her first embroidered piece working with Surya she learned new stitches but her designs continued to be just outlines. On her second piece she made the leap to use newly learned stitches to fill in her designs and kept then kept stopping to admire and show off the results.

Dye Day Results

Surya taught two of the teens how to use the sewing machine, including using the instruction book as a resource when there is a question or problem. Nelva had finished a beaded embroidery piece under Suyra’s tutelage which she sewed into a bag. Veronica learned to sew by making a small shoulder bag with a button closure and a zippered pencil bag. The teens also learned about perspective in drawing and had fun with water colors. Suyra had brought all the supplies to teach screen printing and worked with the teens for 2 months ending with the final project of a printed t-shirt.

Surya at the Loom

The weavers of Huancarani began dropping off skeins to be dyed as rainy season is dye season. The Club held a dye day to take care of the accumulating skeins from the Huancarani weavers. The dye pot of suyku leaves produced light and dark greens skeins. Fresh turmeric root had been purchased from a sidewalk vendor in Cochabamba in October, and although roots were beginning to sprout once mashed up one dye pot of vibrant orange skeins was produced. The turmeric pot was mixed into the fifth dye bath of cochineal to dye skeins a rich dark orange.

Embroidery Projects… Notice Use of Weaving and Thrums on Surya’s Piece

Surya taught a batik workshop to Vilma and Doña Maxima and they experimented on cotton cloth, silk scarves, and cotton t-shirts with varying degrees of success. The leftover dye pot of the turmeric and cochineal was almost exhausted so further experimentation will take place with stronger dye pots on the upcoming dye days.

Doña Maxima´s 2nd Work with Filled-In Designs & Another of Suyra’s Fun Contemporary Pieces

Surya, is the second volunteer in 8 years to take advanced classes from Doña Maxima and complete a weaving on the loom. She is the first volunteer to weave the cloth, strap, and border to assemble a ch´upsita (small shoulder bag). It is surprising there are not more weavers who have visited to take classes with Doña Máxima to learn traditional Andean weaving techniques. Surya taught embroidery stitches and worked on her own pieces for an exhibition at the Kiosko Galería in Santa Cruz Bolivia beginning on March 15th. She cunningly incorporated an end piece of her weaving and used the thrums as embroidery threads, which was a tug of war with each one because of their rough texture. However, the results were stunning with the natural dyed wool blending together for a natural looking portrait.

Surya Explaining How Her Visit Influenced Her Art Which Will be Exhibited

The PAZA order that will be traveling to the U.S. the end of April is almost complete. It is a bit early to be without an order for the weavers, so any preorders for the woven cloth which are the fajas (70” x 5” bands, $38), weavings (63” x 9.5”, $68), zippered pouches ($16), zippered pouches with a wrist strap ($17), or yoga mat straps ($22/$23) will enable additional orders to be placed over the next 2 months. The sizing may seem odd, but the weavers work in centimeters not inches, well except for Doña Dionicia who at 86 years of age gets away with using hand spans instead of a measuring tape. The weavings that are 63” x 9.5” were sized to be cut up to make 6 zippered bags. If you need a different sized weaving for a project you may place a special order. Contact Dorinda at dkdutcher@hotmail.com for further information or to place an order. Dorinda Dutcher, February 27, 2018

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Kicking Off The Year With Arts & Crafts

Embroidering, Drawing, and Painting with Surya

Embroidering, making piñatas, drawing, water coloring, and the Fiesta de Don Jorge made for a busy January for the Club de Artesanas (CdA). Under the tutelage of artist-in-residence, Suyra de Wit, the CdA women, teens, and kids were all thrilled to spend the 2nd month of the school vacation busily occupied with art projects. The first project Surya introduced was embroidering a design of choice. The embroidery of flowers as a required project at the local primary school has been replaced by fabric painting. The 3 girls completed their embroidery and with help from Suyra made small shoulder bags to showcase their work. The teens chose to use beads from the jewelry making kit to embroider their designs. The intent focus of the 2 boys over their embroidery hoops was a surprise. Doña Maxima commented that she liked the textural possibilities by combining known embroidery stitches with the new stitches she learned from Surya.

3 Happy Girls with New Bags

Preparation for the Fiesta de Don Jorge began a week prior to the annual all day party. Three Club families had birthdays during the month so a total of 4 piñatas were made. The layering of the paper mache over the balloons went quickly because it was the 2nd year of piñata making. Thanks to Surya’s help, the fringe decor was an improvement over last year. PAZA provided for the piñata filling which included toothbrushes and pencils along with the sweet and salted treats.

Making the Piñatas

On the day of the Fiesta the library and workshop overflowed with everybody working on masks and crowns. Lunch was everybody´s favorite festive dish, “Pique Macho”. Piping hot French Fries are piled with bite-size chunks of meat and sausage in a savory sauce. The diner adorns his or her heaping plate of yumminess with hard-boiled egg, onion, tomato, chilies, and in the kids case a lot of ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise.

Fiesta de Don Jorge 2018

Doña Máxima and Vilma peeled and cut up 13 pounds of potatoes with knives – peelers and cutting boards are not local culinary techniques. Doña Máxima headed to the outdoor cooking lean-to to start a fire for frying the potatoes and Vilma headed indoors to cook the meat on the gas range. There was a bit of a lull after the meal. Everyone rallied for games and worked up an appetite so they could enjoy the 3 layer chocolate and lime birthday cake. Don Jorge will turn 88 in February and hopefully the photos and best wishes will reach his Kansas mailbox this year.

Jhesica Sharing Her Work with Veronica

Saturday mornings were reserved for the teens to work on their drawing skills. Surya is a portrait artist and noted that they had not learned to sketch a big picture but focused on small details. She started the classes with timed drawings of self-portraits, followed by instruction, and ended the class by letting the teens watercolor for their enjoyment. Surya’s work may be viewed at www.suryadewit.net.

On Sunday the 14th an emergency meeting of the Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani (CAH) was called at the PAZA workshop. A new President needed to be elected to replace Doña Cirila who did not meet the requirement of being a member for 2 years. She took it upon herself to go in search of the CAH members in town for market day and managed to gather up a quorum of 14. Her mother, a founding member, won the election and hesitantly took on the responsibility after Doña Cirila promised to help her. Maribel, Secretary and the youngest CAH member, ran the meeting as the most senior Board member. It is heartening to observe younger members taking an active role in the organization.

Waiting for Quorum of Weavers to Gather

The school year begins on February 5th, and that means high stress for mothers to come up with the cash to purchase school supplies. PAZA always has a weaving order so the weavers can count on income in February. During the last 3 Sundays in January most of the active weavers stopped by the PAZA workshop inquiring or dropping off an order. Doña Eulalia sighed as she commented on the ever increasing list of school supplies as her 4 children move through primary into secondary school. The weavings will be in the U.S. the end of April and need to be sold to keep the PAZA rotating fund for the weaving orders rotating. Thanks to the use of the weavings in Laverne’s Waddington’s workshops PAZA sales have changed from a myriad of products of our design to selling the cloth for you to design and cut for your own creations. The fajas (traditionally belts) are 70”x4.5”, wider weavings that we use to make the zippered pouches are 63”x9.5”, and straps (size used for the yoga mat straps) are 74”x1.5” or a bit longer at 78”x1.5”. There will also be zippered pouches, yoga mat straps, and a few ch’uspas (shoulder bags). Inquires can be sent to dkdutcher@hotmail.com.

Thank you Dorothy Thursby and Susan Long for kickstarting 2018 with your continued support of the weavers and teens.  Dorinda Dutcher, January 28, 2018

October Fun, Fun, Fun

Vilma Juggling Her Spinning Week Results on Measuring Day in Sanipaya

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).

Rebecca & the Chicas

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.

Huddled in the Entry on an Inclement Day

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.

Doña Justina´s Chuspa Will Debut at the Tinkuy Parade

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.

Readying Orders and Weavings Going to the Tinkuy Sales Table

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

Bibs & Bags

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

Spinzilla Prep & a Magical Dye Pot

Loading Up the Molle Leaves & Passengers

September was a month of preparation for Spinzilla Spinning Week and for November’s Tinkuy International Weaving conference in Cusco, Peru. Doña Máxima made a trip to Cochabamba to order the banner for the Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani (CAH) that will debut at the Tinkuy’s Inauguration parade. She and her daughter Zoraida also shopped for 2 shawl samples so that the Spinzilla participants will have some choice in this year´s “All Win 1st Prize”. They learned that the shawl vendors will have little or no inventory until next June when winter rolls around again. Spinzilla always offers a number of problem solving opportunities for the team, and one solution is to buy material and have the Club de Artesanas (CdA) members crochet the borders and add the fringe for a per shawl wage.

Dye Day #1 Results

In the midst of all the preparations for future activities the Club members started an amazing dye pot that just kept on giving. It began with a quick excursion to a lower altitude to collect the leaves of molle trees. Doña Máxima´s husband drives a student transport truck and because it sits idle between the early morning pickup of kids from a rural community and their midafternoon drop-off back home he was agreeable to driving the Club members for 50 Bs. ($7.20). There had been a few days of brief but intense rains that had washed the landscape free of the gritty tan dust that swirls and coats everything during the dry season. Time for bright yellow skeins was running out because the leaves do not yield dye during the rainy season will begin soon. It was a cloudless day so rather than begin the dye pot that afternoon the leaves were put to soak so the afternoon could be spent at the river washing and drying fleece in preparation for Spinzilla Spinning Week

2 Techniques for Washing Sheep Skins

Two days later the Club women fired up the dye pot and the molle leaves simmered scenting the air with a heavenly fragrance. The yellow resulting from the 1st dye bath met expectations but the possibility of a 2nd dye bath looked grim. Doña Antonia saved the day by offering to return from lunch with some dried turmeric root. A relative living in a tropical area of Bolivia had gifted fresh roots to her and she had dried them after the Club used them for numerous dye pots in 2013. The simmering turmeric added its exotic spicy scent to the air and the resulting color was a burnished golden yellow. For a 3rd bath a bit of cochineal was added and the results were a burnt orange. Dyeing continued over 3 more days due to the need to spin more yarn to dye. Glorious vivid reds and red oranges emerged from dye baths 4 through 8 with the addition of a few more grams of cochineal, cream of tartar, alum and citric acid. In 10 years of dyeing such a magical dye pot has never before been experienced, appreciated, and so enjoyed.

Child Labor? Mom and Grandmum Observing Emily’s Washing Technique

The rains that washed the molle leaves also flushed the river which had almost slowed to a stagnation. Fleece and sheepskins were scoured at home in hot water. After lunch following the molle excursion the Club members headed to the river. Doña Maxima and Vilma took turns pushing their wheelbarrow that held 2 sheepskins, a black fleece, and a gray fleece. Doña Antonia was carrying white fleece in a bag of woven plastic in her aguayo on her back. Doña Rufina had a mixed black and white sheepskin and some laundry in her wheelbarrow. With some effort the wheelbarrows were rolled to a pool above the ford where teen boys were lovingly washing their motor scooters.

Navigating Heavy Load of Wet Wool Up to Road

Doña Antonia wet the fleece she´d brought and then laid it over a large boulder and pounded it with a stick. Doña Máxima, Vilma, and her 8 year old daughter Emily submerged their sheep skins and fleece one at a time to work through them with their hands to remove debris. The rinsed fleece and sheepskins were draped to dry over sun warmed boulders. Wheelbarrows were washed out, loaded up, and with a sense of accomplishment the group headed merrily homeward.

Mission Accomplished, Leisurely Walk Home

The following week, and last week prior to Spinzilla Spinning Week, the Club members began preparing coils of roving. Doña Antonia watched Doña Máxima shearing fleece off a sheepskin and decided she was unhappy with the fleece that she had washed. It had dried hard instead of drying soft like the fleece Doña Máxima was cutting away from the sheepskin. Doña Antonia decided that she needed to start over using a sheepskin instead of beginning the washing process with sheared fleece. Doña Beatris, who is in charge of the 6 Spinzilla spinners from her community of Sanipaya, happened to be in town. She was spending the Club day doing her son´s “home economics” project of making a table cloth by pulling threads in a length of cloth and weaving in a bright green ribbon. She said she had 2 sheepskins and offered to sell one to Doña Antonia after washing them the following day. Unfortunately, a neighborhood dog snatched one of the washed sheepskins from where they were drying outdoors, so Doña Antonia was once again in search a sheepskin.

Doña Máxima Shears While Doña Antonia Looks On

The preparation for Spinzilla Spinning Week is a lot of work for the spinners, but it is work they’d be doing anyway. As an event, it recognizes their life long honed skills as spinners and weavers. It has created many learning opportunities for the 25 women, most of who attended few if any years of schooling. These 4 years of empowering experiences would have been impossible without your support.

Thank you Rob Nash for reconnecting in such a supportive way from our carefree youth! The generous support of a former Bolivian Peace Corps volunteer must be acknowledged with gratitude and a hug. The well wishes as well as financial support from other Spinzilla participants goes a long ways in communicating a bigger world’s recognition of the rural womens’ ancient fiber arts techniques and skills. Thank you Sarah Linder and Elizabeth White for once again supporting the Bolivian team. Thank you Taevia Miller. Dorinda Dutcher, September 28, 2017, dkdutcher@hotmail.com

Independencia Update

Club Day – Warping, Crocheting, & Sewing

August was windy, dry and dusty, although the peach blossoms were glorious. Many of the Club de Artesanas (CdA) days were enjoyed out of doors crocheting and warping weavings as winter´s chill still clung to the cement floored rooms. Doña Rufina, the newest Club member worked stoically at weaving a yoga mat strap. She struggled to memorize the pattern often distracted by her active almost-toddler. Her days are divided between town and the family farm near an old growth forest which is a lovely walk up the mountainside unencumbered, but packing a baby and bags of groceries it takes a stout heart and strong legs.

David Opening His Prezzies

The Club members held a potluck lunch and surprise birthday party for David the day he turned 8 years old. He and his older sister bounce back and forth between relatives in town and their rural community below Huancarani since losing their mother 2 years ago. His sister is an honorary CdA member, but spends weekends and vacations on the farm so her participation is rare. It is the first time the Club members have taken the initiative to organize a charitable – or any event on their own. PAZA provided the birthday cake, prizes for the games, and school supplies in a chuspa as birthday gifts for David.

Veronica Spent 1-1/2 Days Making Lanterns for the Lantern Parade

The chicas are progressing in the baking course and complete 3 recipes each Saturday. When not in the kitchen they worked on art projects including making lanterns for the Independence Eve parade in early August, jewelry making using wire techniques, drawing and coloring, and painting scenery for the much talked about “Little Red Riding Hood” puppet show.

Preparation for Doña Maxima´s Tinkuy presentation, “Tales of the Traditional Textiles of Independencia, Bolivia” took place 3 times a week. On Tuesday and Thursday Club days she and Dorinda slowly built a PowerPoint choosing from the thousands of photos taken since 2007. Unfortunately, there are no historical photos due to the rarity of cameras until cell phones with cameras appeared. The presentation outline was sketched out after the July meeting in Huancarani when the weavers talked about what they would like to convey to a bigger world of weavers. The discussion has continued on Sundays when they could visit the PAZA workshop. Each has a different story about how they learned to weave, and rarely did they learn from their mothers. In fact, their words brought to mind the image of a parent in the U.S. trying to patiently teach their teen to drive a car.

Doña Alicia and Doña Máxima, Spinzilla 2015

It was Doña Alicia Solis, now 62, who as a teen was the “go-to” person to learn a variety of weaving motifs. More than 1 weaver mentioned herding the family flock with the goal of tracking down the young Alicia and her flock. Doña Casimira said that her mother died young and her father traded wheat and corn to a neighbor for weaving lessons.

One topic that did not come up when the weavers chatted about their weaving past was natural dyes from the local plants. Natural dyes were not often used as they were growing up except by one extremely poor family. Their interest in rescuing natural dye techniques was piqued by workshops provided by the municipal government and by learning that foreigners were interested in buying natural dyed weavings.

President Evo´s Visit to Independencia

The Spinzilla participants have sheared, purchased, or traded for the wool to spin for Spinning Week. They are looking forward to their special week, but it has been difficult to gather news because special events have interfered with their Sunday visits to Independencia. The 3 days of Independence Day festivities fell over a weekend and the rural spinners feted in their communities. Many of the Huancarani spinners are Evangelists and attended a weekend conference in Cochabamba. President Evo Morales visited Independencia on a Friday and attendance was mandatory (or a $15 fine) so nobody was up for another jarring ride in the back of a cargo truck for Sunday’s market.

Doña Eulogia & Doña Justina, Spinzilla 2016

We are almost halfway to our goal of $930 in expenses for this year’s Spinzilla Spinning competition. The expenses include the annual prize that recognizes all of participants. This year the prize is a shawl, nobody so far has chosen the option of yarn to crochet their own. Other expenses are transportation to the rural communities, the wage for Doña Máxima for those travel days, photo development so each spinner has a “recuerdo”, and the beef for the celebratory feast and awarding of the prizes.

Thank you Jenny Heard, Lyn Lucas, and Dorothy Thursby for continuing to support the spinners and weavers. Thank you to the Spinzilla participants of other teams who have sent support to the Cloth Roads Team Warmis Phuskadoras! A map will be needed to show the Bolivian team from where they are receiving good wishes. Thank you to Marion Gibson the Canadian Koigu Team Captain. Thanks are sent across the Pacific to Jane Cooper and Janet Ellison of the Team Hand Spinning News U.K. and to Katie and Anja Britton of the U.K. Team Hilltop Cloud. Patty Tompkins of Team Louet North America thank you for supporting the team since their first competition in 2015. Dorinda Dutcher, September 12, 2017

Dancing and Gatherings in the Plaza

Virgen de Carmen

Day to day activities including Club de Artesanas (CdA) gatherings were disrupted throughout the month of July for fun and politics. The people of the municipality of Independencia held numerous meetings to allow their elected mayor every opportunity to give an honest accounting of himself in the regards to an alarming amount of funds missing from the municipal bank account. The meetings and investigation were interrupted in the middle of the month for the annual 5 day Fiesta del Virgen de Carmen. The Fiesta fell over a weekend so many city folk with roots in Independencia arrived for the festivities. The idea of Club members working together in an income generating activity during the Fiesta was vetoed because of family responsibilities.

Diablada Dance Fraternity

The Virgen de Carmen is the patron saint of Independencia and a lovingly attired idol resides year around in a glass case above the altar of the Catholic Church. During the Fiesta she is taken down to hold reign at the front of the church, and to be carried through the streets in a procession on July 16th. The 5 folkloric dance “fraternities” danced through the streets accompanied by brass bands for 2 days in devotion to her. The plaza was packed for 3 nights with the young and old dancing to popular music bands.

Tobas, Fé y Alegría School System

The Fiesta and winter vacation ended and life returned to normal the 3rd week in July. The Club women warped weavings for orders and worked on crochet projects. The Club chicas were all present for the first time in a month and they pulled out the bag of unfinished “Little Red Riding Hood” puppets to finish. That project was begun by a volunteer, Profesora Judy an art teacher in 2015, whose stay was too short for all the project ideas she brought with her. The chicas are working their way through a baking course where each will learn 4 recipes then teach them to each other. Upon demonstrating competence in the 4 categories that include cake, cookies & crackers, sweet bread & pastry, and a yeast bread they will be rewarded with a set of measuring cups and spoons.

Warping an Order, Vilma Showing Crochet Strip for a Shawl

Independencia was thrown into turmoil the 4th week in July when the increasing evidence of fiscal wrongdoing demanded action. Doña Máxima found herself locked inside a packed auditorium of concerned citizens at city hall until 4am on Saturday morning. They voted to close down the municipality except for the schools and hold a public meeting in the plaza on Monday. Late Sunday night the gate entering into the town of Independencia was chained shut. Trucks and buses were parked crosswise across all streets in and out of Independencia, and so began 3 days of blockades and strikes.

Jhesica Drawing Wolf Pattern

On Monday, the surrounding rural communities sent representatives to Independencia to participate in the decision making. They arrived in the back of cargo or dump trucks prepared for a 1 day meeting in the plaza that stretched out to 3 days. Those who did not have a place to go at night camped out in the plaza probably regretting that warm woven wool ponchos have gone out of common use.

Blockaded Street Near PAZA Workshop

Doña Máxima dropped by PAZA on Tuesday with a report. The general strike called for all businesses to be closed. Neighborhood vigilante teams had been organized to patrol their neighborhood to make stores did not open. Stores in Independencia are a room in homes with a door opening to the street and shelves of staples inside. If a store opened the vigilantes were to strip the shelves in punishment. However, people have to eat so between 6am and 7am a blind eye was turned as some covert transactions of eggs, rice, and flour took place. The vendor market was padlocked shut, but on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings in front of the market women sold meat out of wheelbarrows. Locals were allowed to prepare pots of food, sardine salad, empanadas, etc. to sell out of baskets or wheelbarrows to those without a means to cook for themselves. A delicate balance between policy and meeting basic needs was reached. Doña Máxima cooked for the representatives from Huancarani and PAZA donated rice and vegetables to her efforts.

3rd & Final Day of Meeting in the Plaza

It took 3 long days of speeches, votes, and collective hardship to arrive at an interim plan of action until elections can be organized and held to replace the former mayor. There were dramatic twists and turns throughout the 3 days including his arrest in Cochabamba and 2 small districts going renegade after being stirred up by his brother. Representatives of the miners of Kami arrived in Independencia during the final day of meetings and brought dynamite as their bargaining chip. An accord was reached, so windows just rattled instead of broke when they bade their usual farewell by setting off a few sticks well outside of the town’s border. The blockades were lifted and it was business as usual on Thursday.

The month wrapped up with weavers of Huancarani dropping off weaving orders and picking up their payments. All were carrying shopping lists of needs for their school age kids who will be marching in the parades and dancing in folkloric dance expositions in Independencia and Huancarani during the 3 days celebrating Bolivian independence beginning on August 6th. Dorinda Dutcher, August 1, 2017

Winter and Weaving

Doña Beatriz Teaching Herself new Figures

During June, the women of the Club de Artesanas (CdA) focused on weaving. Dorinda had returned from the U.S. with 3 orders for weavings from Laverne Waddington’s spring workshop students. The CdA members signed up to fill the orders and warped during Club days working in pairs. The weaving will be done during odd hours at home. Doñas Máxima, Antonia, and Beatris take turns using PAZA´s short demo loom to teach themselves new figures from Laverne´s book “More Adventures with Warp Faced Pick-Up Patterns”. When not involved in weaving activities the women of the Club keep their hands busy with crochet projects. Adviana´s working on a bedspread and a shawl. Doña Máxima put the finishing touches on a pink blouse that incorporated crochet stitches she learned from two-time volunteer Selina Petschek. Vilma and Doña Antonia are crocheting squares for shawls. All 6 women had sewn blouses and wanted to get the photo session over with so they could take possession and begin wearing them.

Doña Rufina Working on Her First Weaving with Figures

Doña Rufina the newest Club member has spent the past few months weaving narrow straps to learn a variety of figures from Doña Máxima. She has woven blankets for her family so has a rustic loom at home, but had never learned to weave figures. The two warped a yoga mat strap which Doña Rufina took home but brought back the next Club day not ready to weave on her own. Doña Máxima attached a stick crosswise to 2 limbs of a peach tree to serve as a support for PAZA´s 12’ leaning frame loom (2 notched poles). The other Club members who are all competent weavers keep an eye on Doña Rufina´s progress offering help if they spot her going awry. Sunny Club days are spent outside so everyone can soak up the warmth. The adobe and cement construction of the homes holds in the winter´s chill temperatures in rooms that don´t receive any solar heat.

Doña Máxima Giving a Weaving Class to Her Granddaughters and Veronica

The teens in the CdA spent the Saturdays in June organizing the huge bag of jewelry making supplies, drawing, learning how to use the microscope, and baking. Veronica was the only chica who did not spend the July vacation working on the family farm in a rural community. She was able to take CdA weaving classes with Doña Máxima and warped her first yoga mat strap, which PAZA will buy to encourage her to continue learning.

Veronica´s 1st Experience Weaving on a Leaning Frame Loom

The yoga mat straps have not proven to be the hoped for “hot” seller. PAZA continues to order them from new weavers to encourage them to learn a variety of motifs and improve their skills. The standard is high for the weavings to fill the orders of Laverne´s students because the buyers are weavers. This has forced the Huancarani weavers who have woven all of their lives with not a lot of attention to detail to improve their skills.

Doñas Maxima and Adviana Wrapping Up after Warping 2 Fajas

The registration for the 2017 Spinzilla spinning competition opened on Sunday July 2nd, and 11 of the Huancarani weavers were in town to sign up. There are 6 spots reserved for the spinners of the rural community of Sanipaya who were invited to join in 2014, the first year the Cloth Roads team Warmis Phuskadoras participated. There was a bit of grumbling from the Huancarani women that their community should have all 25 spots. Spinning week has become an annual highlight for the Spinzilla participants in Sanipaya as it has to the Huancarani spinners, so eliminating any former participants is not an option. Adviana, a CdA member, and Maribel who lives in Huancarani and began weaving to sell earlier this year are in their early 20´s and are anxious to spin during Spinzilla Spinning Week. How will they fare on a team composed of spinners who have whirled their drop spindles for a lifetime while pasturing their flocks?

New Blouse Photo Session

What can be done to include everyone and keep the young women motivated? If the young aren´t encouraged to learn the ancient textile techniques how can the weaving traditions be preserved? The decision was made to create a waiting list for 5 extra spinners whose names will not appear on any Spinzilla form, but who will win the annual prize along with the 25 official entrants. The annual prize this year is a factory made shawl. The option of yarn for anyone wishing to crochet their own didn’t have any takers.

A huge thank you to Cloth Roads for the sponsorship and help with registration fees for the Spinzilla team Warmis Phuskadoras. Thank you Dorothy Thursby for your ongoing support so that the Club activities continue without interruption. Fundraising is not one of PAZA´s favorite activities, but a necessity none the less especially with the projected Spinzilla expenses of $820 not too far into the future. Hint, hint…. Dorinda Dutcher, July 5, 2017