Reminiscing in Huancarani

Emily and Wendy, “De Pollera”

A few days ago Doña Máxima, her daughter Vilma, Vilma´s 4 children, and Dorinda packed into a contracted pickup truck for the trip to meet with the weavers of the Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani (CAH). For the first time in 2 years Vilma´s 2 daughters were dressed as their mother and grandmother in polleras and blusas of their own. It was discovered a week before the trip that they´d long outgrown their rural wear so a sewing frenzy followed so they could be outfitted in new polleras and resized blusas for the planned photo taking session in Huancarani.

Doña Justina at Her Loom Consulting with Doña Máxima

Prior to the meeting with the weavers the women and girls hopped out of the truck for the short walk to Doña Justina´s farmstead. The boys and truck headed down to the soccer field where the meeting would be held. There was an immediate sense of serenity as the dusty road was left behind and the group followed a winding footpath across the green hillside and skipped across the stepping stones in 2 small creeks. A spectacular view opened up of the wide gravel riverbed and small trickle of the Ayopaya River cutting through the steep mountains forming a natural border between the States of Cochabamba and La Paz.

Rolling Up Her Weaving in Progress for Storage

Doña Justina greeted her visitors with bowls of hot boiled corn, a rural staple, and fresh cheese. She had a finished weaving for an order that Doña Máxima measured and collected. Although Doña Justina´s leaning frame loom appeared empty, she had a work in progress rolled up and secured at the top of the loom. She unrolled it to consult Doña Máxima about the specifications. While they talked about the weaving, Vilma had her daughters wet their heads under a water spigot so their hair could be braided and adorned with “tullmas”, beaded loops that add about 8” of length.

Doña Justina and Her Youngest, Miriam

Doña Justina´s youngest daughter, Miriam, was coerced into donning a pollera and blusa for the day. While she changed there was a short meeting about the upcoming Tinkuy International Weaving Conference. It will be Doña Máxima´s 3rd Tinkuy and the 1st for Doña Justina. She has been the President of the CAH for 3 years and was invited by PAZA to participate in the Tinkuy because she has proven her interest and commitment to leadership through the organization of CAH and Spinzilla activities in Huancarani.

Armloads of Medicinal Plants to Take Back to Town

On the walk back to the road Doña Máxima and Vilma collected 4 varieties of medicinal plants. Vilma used her sweater as a makeshift aguayo which enabled her to carry the plants on her back. A few weavers were chatting and spinning in the shade of the church which sits alongside the soccer field, and more drifted in until there was more than a quorum of the 28 members to have an official CAH meeting.

Dusting Off Old Memories

The topics of the day were Spinzilla Spinning Week in October and Doña Máxima´s presentation at the Tinkuy in November. Many of the weavers have expressed interest in attending the Tinkuy, but most would have found the logistics of leaving their farm and livestock for a week impossible. Doña Máxima and Doña Justina will be representing all of them and so PAZA has tasked them all with sharing their weaving history so that Doña Máxima´s presentation is representative of everyone. The meeting was the starting point for what the weavers want to share with a bigger weaving world about their weaving tradition.

Wendy Weaves and Emily Watches the Herd

Photos are needed in a PowerPoint to accompany the presentation. That is a challenge because there are no historical photos of the weavers as girls or teens. Cameras were rare until the recent arrival of cheap cell phones with cameras. The meeting in Huancarani was scheduled for the school vacation so that kids would be available for the photo session.

Doña Maxima´s granddaughters had their first weaving classes the week prior during the Club de Artesanas (CdA) meetings. Nine year old Wendy sat through the meeting working on weaving a strap with figures she´d learned. Her mother Vilma kept an eye on her progress and after the meeting her great-aunt Narciza worked with her.

Wendy Getting Help from Her Great Aunt Doña Narciza

Doña Narciza is Doña Maxima´s older sister by 7 years, and during the meeting she told the group how she learned to weave. As a girl she was intrigued by the woven figures and learned on her own from others. While she pastured the family´s flock she would seek out friends who knew how to weave various motifs. She also befriended an “abuelita” (elderly woman) who taught her. It was Doña Narciza who taught their mother how to weave the figures. Years later Doña Máxima learned how to weave from her mother, not wanting instruction from her impatient older sister. It was at this meeting that Doña Máxima learned that their grandmother did not know how to weave figures and that their mother learned as an adult from her teenage daughter Narciza.

Maribel, the Youngest CAH Weaver, with son Daniel

The “learning to weave” stories seem to have been deeply buried, so more tales will be collected when the weavers drop by the PAZA workshop on Sundays. Although the girls were dressed up for the day their actions didn´t need to be staged. Seven year old Emily and the boys took it upon themselves to keep Doña Toribia´s flock in line, which involved a lot of running up and down the hillside in sheer exuberance of being outside in the country on a sunny day. It´s definitely not the shepherding technique of the weavers who walk and spin, but it would be the shepherding method of children heralding back eons. It was a fun and memorable day, and may the stories that were shared be remembered by the young ones in attendance.

It is with heartfelt gratitude to Dorinda´s college friend Douglas and his family´s P.J. Broderick Memorial Foundation that the Tinkuy expenses for the 3 PAZA participants have been covered. Thank you so much!

Dorinda Dutcher, July 12, 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

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

Carnaval Weavings

Dancers Wearing Aguayos, Chuspita’s, and Ch’ulos

For textile aficionados, Carnaval Week is the best time to see traditional weavings in Independencia. Unfortunately, quiet contemplation is impossible in the chaotic mayhem of sound, swirling color, and in dodging the ongoing barrage of water balloons. Carnaval kicks off on Sunday with a parade in which rural communities compete for prize money. The local authorities seated in front of city hall on the plaza judge each group for their traditional music, dance, and costumes. They mayor of each community adorned with streamers and balloons leads his musicians and dancers into the plaza for 30 minutes of dancing. The authorities are pulled into the dancing after being adorned with streamers and offered a scoop or two of chicha (fermented corn beverage) from a plastic bucket. One must question their ability to judge after an afternoon of scoops of chicha…

Decorative Hand Stitching of the 2 Halves is Indicative of a Handwoven Aguayos

On the 2nd day of Carnaval, the communities dance in the plaza again, but the dancers wear modern polleras (skirts) and pants instead of the scratchy bayeta (woven wool) polleras and pants. There are fewer water balloons flying so it is easier to focus on observing and photographing the woven aguayos (cloth for carrying on the back), chuspitas (small shoulder bags traditionally used to hold coca leaves), and the knitted ch’ulos (caps with ear flaps). No weaving with natural dyes was spotted. All of the aguayos and chuspitas were woven with brightly dyed synthetic yarn. The ch’ulos were knitted with synthetically dyed local wool or brightly colored synthetic yarn.

Llama Fiber Sling

The annual warakanaku competition followed the music and dancing. The warakanaku is a braided sling, often of llama fiber. Rural men and women carry a sling tucked in their waist band while out pasturing their livestock, and keep a few pebbles handy to fling at predators or to use on their livestock to keep them moving.

The Windup

Government officials lugged a bag of powdered chalk into the middle of the plaza and scooped out handfuls to make 2 lines about 20 feet apart. The names of the first 2 contestants were called and the men met between the chalked lines throwing their slings around the neck of the other and dancing to the right and then to the left. They walked to their places behind the chalked lines then turned to face each other cracking their slings aggressively. At the word from the announcer one man turned his back while the other loaded his sling with a peach and wound up. Most of the men had already dipped heavily into the chicha buckets and although there was a lot of power behind their fling their aim was off. Much to the amusement of the spectators the peaches flew down the road splattering the unwary blocks away.

Taking Aim

The women were steady on their feet and danced in place as they sized up their opponent and took aim. Out of the 3 attempts the women consistently had a higher percentage of hitting their target than the men. The contestants were not young, so as entertaining as the warakanku competition is its days are probably numbered. On the bright side, there seem to be an increase in rural communities dancing and many of the aguayos were not machine made but handwoven and gorgeous. Dorinda Dutcher, February 27, 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

2016 Annual Weavers´ Meeting, Huancarani

Tarp For Shade Already Engaged

Tarp For Shade Already Engaged

Overcast skies did not give way to rain during the annual meeting for the Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani (CAH) members on December 26th. The weavers had chosen to meet at the site of Doña Toribia´s old house. A fire was roaring in the beehive shaped wood burning oven when the truck load of participants from Independencia arrived at 10:30am. The oven was the only structure at the site with a roof so rain or sun would have made for an uncomfortable day. The tarp used for shelter in 2015 was in use for drying sprouting corn that will be made into chicha, the sacred beverage of the Incas, for Carnaval.

Prepping Beef for the Oven on a Foggy Morning

Prepping Beef for the Oven on a Foggy Morning

The day´s scheduled events included the Spinzilla celebratory feast and prize awarding along with the annual CAH meeting. The first order of business was preparing the meat and potatoes for the oven. Doña Máxima had made arrangements with a butcher in Independencia to pick up 18 kilos (about 40 lbs. at $2.45/lb.) of beef. Beef is a treat, since cattle are usually trucked to Independencia to be sold and butchered because there is no refrigeration in the rural communities.

All Contributed Potatoes

All Contributed Potatoes

A new water spigot had been installed since last year´s meeting, unfortunately, due to the drought there were long pauses between spurts of water. Doña Máxima and Doña Antonia went to work washing and salting the meat. Doña Toribia took tomatoes, garlic, oil, and dried chilies to her home next door to pound them into a paste for a meat rub. All the weavers brought potatoes which were washed, rubbed with oil, and laid out in long wide tin pans. The oven was filled with the trays of meat and potatoes and the round door cut from a 55 gallon drum was secured to the oven with mud.

Collecting the Annual CAH Dues

Collecting the Annual CAH Dues

Everyone settled comfortably on the ground for the annual CAH meeting. Twenty-one of the 28 members were present when Doña Maxima, the secretary, took roll. Doña Toribia, Treasurer, counted the cash in the tin can of dues. All wanted to be up to date with their 72 cent annual dues so time was taken for the collection. The two main topics were the setting of the weaving prices for the year and Spinzilla. The weavers love Spinzilla Spinning Week and voted unanimously to continue. Cloth Roads has once again generously offered to be the team´s TNNA sponsor.

Doña Justina Receiving Her Prize & Certificate from Dorinda & Doña Máxima

Doña Justina Receiving Her Prize & Certificate from Dorinda & Doña Máxima

The weavers cheered when they heard that the $5,017 in payments for their weavings was the highest year of sales since they began working with PAZA in 2007. What was wonderful about 2016 was that many of the purchases were by foreign weavers who appreciate the skill and culture heritage behind each piece. After years of trying to sell at Bolivian craft fairs and attempting to design and transform the weavings into saleable products for a trendy foreign market it seems possible that the door has finally opened to a niche market that appreciates the evanescent weavings.

Happy Spinzilla Spinners with New Petticoats and Certificates

Happy Spinzilla Spinners with New Petticoats and Certificates

The last meeting topic was the announcement that PAZA has invited 3 weavers to participate in the 2017 Center of Traditional Textiles Tinkuy International Weaving Conference to be held November 8/11 in Cusco Peru. The 3 were chosen based on their contributions to the joint objectives of the weavers and PAZA. Doña Máxima wears the hats of PAZA Coordinator, CdA trainer, and Captain of the Spinzilla Cloth Roads Team Warmis Phuskadoras. This will be her 3rd Tinkuy, and she will make a short presentation as a panelist, which is an honor for all the Independencia weavers! Her daughter, Zoraida, was invited because she is a member of the PAZA sales team. Doña Justina Vargas, the President of the CdA since 2014, has done an excellent job in organizing CAH events in Huancarani was the 3rd invitee.

A Fun Social Day for the Rural Weavers

A Fun Social Day for the Rural Weavers

After a leisurely meal many hands made quick work of the clean-up. The final event for the day was the awarding of the Spinzilla prizes. All Spinzilla participants win first prize and they had chosen a new petticoat as the 2016 prize. Constance Hall, Spinzilla Team Captain Organizer, had printed participation certificates and sent Spinzilla buttons providing tangible evidence that the competition is truly bigger than just their team. The petticoats were sewn by Doña Maxima´s daughter, Zoraida, who requested the work to earn the money to be able to purchase medicine for herself so she would not be dependent on her husband for it.

2017 is looking to be an exciting year for the weavers, although a bit frightening for PAZA due to the additional responsibility of raising the estimated $4,200 in funds for the Tinkuy expenses. Dorinda Dutcher, December 28, 2016