Cultural

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

October in Independencia

Post Spinzilla Meeting, PAZA Store/Workshop

Post Spinzilla Meeting, PAZA Store/Workshop

Ten members of the Cloth Roads team Warmis Phuskadoras held an impromptu meeting in the PAZA store/workshop on October 16th.  All were curious about their standing in the results. Doña Casimira was unhappy she´d dropped from last year´s champion to 4th place this year. That led to a discussion of outside influences affecting their spinning during the week. There had been 2 community meetings and an inauguration of a potable water project that piped water to a spigot in the yard (not into the home) of every home in Huancarani. One family member had to attend each of the events, and in many cases it was a spinner. That led to a broader discussion about lifestyles of spinners on other teams. They were surprised to learn that the majority drive themselves to a job outside of the home, and only spin in the home.

Spinzilla Spinning Week, CdA, Independencia

Spinzilla Spinning Week, CdA, Independencia

It was pointed out that the team had spun roughly the same amount all 3 years. The total this year of 68,056 was down 455 yards from last year. That led to what will be an ongoing discussion of what the team can do to spin more. Their Spinzilla team was compared to a soccer team and one could see in their expressions that the concept of “team” finally resonated with them. They were asked to bring ideas for team building to vote on at the annual Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani (CAH) meeting in December.

The women in the Club de Artesanas spent the first 2 weeks of October immersed in the spinning and measuring for Spinzilla. All have sewing, knitting or crochet projects to work on during Club days until

Doña Justina, right, 2016 Spinzilla Champion for the Bolivian team

Doña Justina, right, 2016 Spinzilla Champion for the Bolivian team

the end of the year. Due to the lack of success CdA has had with teaching weaving skills, no promises can be made, but Doña Maxima is planning on teaching her daughters Vilma and Zoraida the embedded double weave technique as a CdA activity during the next few months. CdA member Adviana learned the technique from her grandmother. Hopefully she will take advantage of the training opportunity to increase her proficiency.

The Spinzilla results were not yet available when Doña Máxima and Dorinda turned their attention to next year´s Tinkuy International Weaving Conference in Cusco. It will be the 3rd Tinkuy for Doña Máxima and the first for her daughter, Zoraida, and for Doña Justina, the President of the CAH. Zoraida is the best of the PAZA sales team trio which includes her mother and Dorinda.

Doña Maxima, Granddaughter Zuni, and Zoraida, Cochabamba 2011

Doña Maxima, Granddaughter Zuni, and Zoraida, Cochabamba 2011

Doña Máxima had planned to weave a 3rd aguayo last year while her husband was mayor of Huancarani, because the one she´d hurriedly woven for herself did not include the motifs possible when using the embedded double weave technique. The yearlong mayoral obligation ended and weaving the aguayo was no longer a priority. The Tinkuy offers a reason to weave that aguayo.  Seven dollars of PAZA funds were used to buy the yarn she needed to supplement what she had on hand to create a masterpiece that will debut at the Tinkuy in November 2017.

CdA Chicas, a Jewelry Making Saturday Morning

CdA Chicas, a Jewelry Making Saturday Morning

The CdA chicas picked up a new member following Amanda´s September jewelry making classes. First grade teacher and Independencia local, Profesora Prisma, delighted in Amanda´s classes and joined the chicas the first 3 Saturdays in October for a morning of jewelry making. Gabriela, the CdA trainer, laid out the supplies and books Amanda had donated and all were soon engrossed in their projects. The complexity of their work increased after 2 of the chicas had to disassemble bracelets they´d made repeating a basic technique.

Delighting in their Jewelry Making Efforts

Delighting in their Jewelry Making Efforts

Dorinda traveled to the U.S. to spend time with family following Spinzilla, and will return to Independencia in mid-December. Doña Máxima will be holding CdA activities on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the PAZA workshop. She will have the workshop open on Sunday mornings to meet with the Huancarani weavers. The CdA chicas ended for the year. Gaby, the trainer, graduates in early December and 200 Bs. ($29) in PAZA funds were given to her as a graduation gift. She had hoped to attend the university, but the 5 years investment wasn´t practical. Instead she will enroll in a 2 year sewing and design program at a vocational institute.

Headed to 2013 Tinkuy, Doña Maxima Wearing a Factory Made Aguayo!

Headed to 2013 Tinkuy, Doña Maxima Wearing a Factory Made Aguayo!

Spinzilla Spinning Week was a blast and the repercussions will ripple out into next year. Thanks again to all of you who sent good wishes and who supported the Cloth Roads team Warmis Phuskadoras. Thank you Lyn Lucas and Dorothy Thursby for your ongoing support which made it possible to prepay for the next 2 months of PAZA activities so that Doña Maxima can keep the momentum going in Independencia. Thank you to Karen and Jan Krieger and Shannon Dutcher for your generous support. Dorinda Dutcher, October 28, 2016

Measuring, Spinzilla Spinning Week

Doña Maxima and Vilma Compare Measuring Owwies

Doña Maxima and Vilma Compare Measuring Owwies

Jubilant and exhausting sums up Monday and Tuesday’s measuring of yarn spun during Spinzilla Spinning Week. Three spinners including Team Captain Doña Máxima and her daughter Vilma turned in their ovillas (balls of yarn) for measuring and weighing on Sunday evening. The average ball of double strand yarn weighed 550 grams (1.21 lbs.) Vilma, who is the youngest spinner on the team at age 27, moved up from 24th place on the 2015 team to 15th place this year! Vilma said she is going to make up this week for the diet of soup her 4 children had to be satisfied with during Spinning Week.

Doñas Maximiliana, Eulalia, and Berna Waiting for Their Ovillas to be Measured

Doñas Maximiliana, Eulalia, and Berna Waiting for Their Ovillas to be Measured

The lack of a social media volunteer was sorely felt this year in lost photo opportunities as well as needing more help for the measuring. PAZA contracted Breny Ugarte to travel from her home in Cochabamba to help with the measuring on Sunday night and on Monday in the rural community of Huancarani. Breny is a Quechua speaker with roots in Independencia and a professional with a university degree. PAZA collaborated with the non-profit organization she worked with from 2008 to 2011, so the weavers know and respect her.

Doña Toribia Admires Doña Eulogia´s Black Yarn

Doña Toribia Admires Doña Eulogia´s Black Yarn

In Huancarani, Breny called a short meeting to review the objectives and rules of Spinzilla and to clarify anything that has gotten lost in the English to Spanish to Quechua translation in the past. Although it has been discussed every year, the spinners were still confused about the 15 Bs. they pay to participate. Ten Bs. ($1.45) is their contribution of the $10 entry fee. They said $10 is more than they could afford to pay and expressed their thanks again to those who supported the team. They also said they were proud to be a team of women who spin with drop spindles and part of an international competition.

Breny Using an Ovilla as a Globe

Breny Using an Ovilla as a Globe

Breny used a large ovilla to represent the Earth as she explained that during Spinning Week spinners in many parts of the world are spinning together. She said that Spinzilla would continue until enough yarn was spun to circle the Earth. Since many of the spinners rarely leave isolated Independencia and few have traveled further than Cochabamba trying to convey the concept of a larger world is presented in a different way every year. Spinzilla has brought much more to Independencia than just an opportunity to compete in a skill that has been part of their day for as long as they can remember.

Potluck Picnic, You Could be Here Next Year!

Potluck Picnic, You Could be Here Next Year!

Monday was a cool day and the sky was sullen but just a few sprinkles of the much needed rain fell. Two measuring teams worked across from each other on the wood table carted from Independencia. A third measuring team marked off a yard length on the edge of the church porch. Priority for measuring was given to the spinners who had flocks to herd.  After the photo and weighing of the ovilla the measurer would measure 5 yards then say “cinco” to the person keeping the tally. The spinner rewound her ovilla after it was measured and most kept an eye on the measuring team. The ovillas were 2 strands of yarn which had been wound into the ovilla together off of 2 filled drop spindles. The plying will happen after the ovillas are wound into skeins to be washed or washed and dyed. The measuring for 14 spinners in Huancarani took 6 hours. When the measuring was finished all gratefully plopped onto the ground for a potluck picnic.

Measuring Team Using a Bench, Sanipaya

Measuring Team Using a Bench, Sanipaya

On Tuesday, Doña Máxima, Vilma, and Dorinda again loaded the table and plastic chairs into Don Vicente´s pickup truck for the longer ride to Sanipaya. Doña Beatriz, who is in the Club de Artesanas in Independencia when she is not in Sanipaya, had organized the 6 spinners in that community. The measuring was done on a raised covered earth porch at her home. It was obvious that Spinning Week was a welcome break in the monotony of the daily routine of their farmer subsistence lifestyle . The spinners had gathered in the morning to prepare lunch which was a colorful presentation of boiled potato, chuño (freeze-dried potato) with scambled egg, chicken in a savory broth with vegetables, and a salad of tomato and onion.

Two Measuring Teams at Work, Sanipaya

Two Measuring Teams at Work, Sanipaya

The spinners expressed many times their heartfelt thanks to all who helped make Spinzilla Spinning Week possible. Thank you Marilyn Murphy and Cloth Roads for sponsoring the Warmis Phuskadoras. A hug and thanks to the Spinzilla organizers who have brought this special event into the lives of the Andean spinners. The planning and actual event are empowering for the spinners. Furthermore, Spinzilla has given Doña Máxima in Independencia, Doña Justina in Huancarani, and Doña Beatriz in Sanipaya the opportunity to develop organization and leadership skills.

Doña Beatriz Plating Up Lunch

Doña Beatriz Plating Up Lunch

I am traveling to the U.S. next week for a couple of months and PAZA needs to sell the weaving inventory stored in the U.S. I hope to return to Independencia in December with another order for the weavers, but the revolving fund has stopped revolving… In the U.S. inventory are 2 sizes of yoga mat straps, chuspas (shoulder bags), 14” x 14” pillow covers, belts, guitar straps, camera straps, and zippered pouches. Please consider gifting an Andean weaving possibly spun with 2015 Spinzilla Spinning Week yarn this holiday season. Inquires can be directed to dkdutcher@hotmail.com. Thank you. Dorinda Dutcher, October 13, 2016

Andean Spin-In

Doñas Felicidad & Parciza Accompany Doña Antonia and Her Flock to the Spin-In

Doñas Felicidad & Parciza Accompany Doña Antonia and Her Flock to the Spin-In

Fifteen members of the Spinzilla Cloth Roads Team Warmis Phuskadoras met in the shade of the church tower in Huancarani on Wednesday for a spin in. They wanted to compare their spinning speed with each other.
As they arrived Team Captain, Doña Máxima, measured their waist and pollera (skirt) length for this year’s prize which will be a petticoat. Among the last to arrive was Doña Máxima´s sister Doña Narciza who had slowly made her way from home with her herd of goats. The drought in Bolivia continues and the search for grass while pasturing livestock is getting harder and harder.

Doña Alicia Being Measured for Her Petticoat Prize

Doña Alicia Being Measured for Her Petticoat Prize

Each spinner reported how many phuskas (drop spindles) they had filled by this Day #3 of Spinzilla Spinning Week. Doña Justina was way in the lead with 12 filled, Doña Eulogia had completed 9, and everybody else had filled between 2 and 5. However, using the measurement of a “filled” phuska may be misleading as to how many yards it will measure in the end. The women will wind the yarn from 2 phuskas together into the balls of yarn they present for measuring on Monday. That will be quickly done by placing a phuska between the big toe and the next toe of each foot and winding the 2 strands of yarn together into a ball.

Doñas Maxima, Narciza, Toribia, Goats and Sheep

Doñas Maxima, Narciza, Toribia, Goats and Sheep

A few of the women said they were behind due to their attendance at community meetings on Monday and Tuesday. There will be another meeting on Friday in regards to the completed potable water project that supplied each house with a water spigot. The new water spigot beside the church was festooned with streamers and flowers due to its inauguration ceremony. It came in handy before and after the potluck lunch where all used their hands to dip into the bowls of boiled corn with cheese and sheep jerky and macaroni with scrambled eggs.

The Spinners from Huancarani with the Ayopaya River in the Background

The Spinners from Huancarani with the Ayopaya River in the Background

One of the spinners announced a meeting coming up Saturday night for market vendors in Independencia, which many of them are and so must attend. The suggestion was made that they can spin at meetings and so they should continue to spin through Sunday regardless of where they are.

All the spinners except Doña Eulogia were spinning white fleece. She was spinning brown. Only Doña Antonia who arrived with her flock of sheep was using fleece from her flock. The majority of the spinners had purchased their fleece from a butcher in Independencia. Many of the spinners pasture their sheep at a lower elevation and the walkspinchatspines of the vegetation ruin the fleece for spinning. Doña Alicia complained that the fleece of her sheep is like goat fiber. Vertical agriculture is practiced in this Andean area. At the lowest altitude along the river the farmers grow citrus, tomatoes, peanuts, and produce to sell. Midway up the mountain which is where the school, soccer field and church are located the grains and cereals are raised. Continuing up the mountain and above the tree line the many varieties of tubulars are grown. It is interesting to pass so quickly, well when walking downhill, from one ecosystem to another. Doña Eulalia was nowhere to be found, so she had probably made the trek down to work on her farm by the river.

The Warmis Phuskadoras (Women Spinners) are thoroughly enjoying the camaraderie of Spinzilla Spinning Week, and wish the same for all the other Spinzilla teams! Dorinda Dutcher, October 5, 2016

Spinzilla Preparation

Vilma Beating The Debris from a Sheep Skin

Vilma Beating The Debris from a Sheep Skin

Spinzilla Team Captain, Doña Maxima Cortez, of the Cloth Roads Team WarmisPhuskadoras, along with her daughter Vilma and Doña Antonia had been checking on sheep skins at various local butcher´s for weeks. Three weeks before Spinning Week they finally found the fleece they wanted to spin during the competition. Each purchased 2 at 10 Bolivianos ($1.45) per sheep skin, which happens to be the same amount each spinner paidto register for Spinzilla.

 

Doña Antonia Relaxing While Her Sheep Skin Rinse on the River Bottom

Doña Antonia Relaxing While Her Sheep Skin Rinse on the River Bottom

Following their purchases half a day was dedicated to washing the sheep skins. The process began at Doña Maxima´s house where they mixed 2 cups of ash into a large pot of waterand brought it to a boil over a fire. The boiling mixture was poured into a large wash tub, and a short wide board was used to work the hot water through the wool. It took two pots of the water and ash mixtureto scour the 6 sheep skins. For the next step theyloadedthe heavy wet sheep skins into a wheelbarrow and headedto the Palca River a mile away. River access above the bridge provided a number of conveniently placed boulders that served for draping the sheep skins so that they could beat clingy debrisout of the fiber. The final step was to weight the sheep skins on the river bottom for a final rinse.The sheep skins were trundled back home to be dried in the sun in preparation for cutting off the wool.

Vilma Examing Her Sheep Skin Prior to Cutting the Fleece

Vilma Examing Her Sheep Skin Prior to Cutting the Fleece

Doña Maxima and Vilma spent all day during the Club de Artesanas (CdA) Tuesday prior to Spinzilla preparing their fleece for spinning. It took half a day to cut the fiber off one sheep skin using a sharp knife. As Doña Máxima cut the fleece off her sheep skin shewas surprised to find various tones of gray mixed in with the white. As she prepared the roving she separated out the colors to spin each separately. Most of the traditional weavings are warped with the gray yarn on the outside borders and to break up the color blocks of the dyed yarn. The columns of motifs are almost always woven with undyed black yarn for the figures on a background of natural white yarn. As Vilma closely examined her sheep skin prior to cutting off the fiber she was pleased with the fiber´s length and whiteness, although she could have done without the stickers.

Doña Màxima Cutting Fleece

Doña Màxima Cutting Fleece

After lunch the women followed the shade around the yard as they worked the fiber with their fingers into coils of roving. By day´s end they were tired but pleased with the proof of their efforts lying at their feet.On Thursday, both worked all afternoon to finish turning the fleece from their first sheep skin into airy coils of roving.

Doña Justina, the President of the Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani (CAH) stopped by PAZA on Sunday to make the final arrangements with Doña Máxima for Spinzilla Spinning Week. Doña Justina will arrange for the 16 Huancarani spinners to meet in the soccer field on Wednesday for a photo session and for yarn measurement the following Monday. She said Doña Dionicia, who will turn 85 the last day of the competition, returned to Huancarani after last week´s Sunday market in Independencia with a heavy gunny sack of 6 sheep skins she´d purchased, although she has a flock of her own. Doña Paulina had gone to sell produce at a fair in Oruro last week and

Finally, roving

Finally, roving

returned with 2 gorgeous white sheep skins with long fibers. Doña Maxima said she´d tried to buy one, but Doña Paulina wasn´t interested in selling. Doña Paulina had also purchased ph´uskas (drop spindles) in Oruro to sell in Independencia at 5 Bs. (72 cents) each. The last ph´uska maker in Independencia died about 5 years ago.

Doña Justina shuddered at the suggestion that a Spinzilla participant could ask for help in preparing the roving. Doña Máxima said that the spinners have a proprietary interest in the quality of the yarn they spin and prefer to do all the preparation and spinning themselves. The quality of their spinning affects the quality of their weavings which are an integral part of their self-identity. They grew up weaving for home and farm use and continue to weave for the home.

The Results of a Long Day´s Work

The Results of a Long Day´s Work

They also weave to sell and thanks to the orders received this year through Laverne Waddington and her weaving workshop hosts and participants the sales have hit a record high!

Thank you Anne McGinn for supporting the Cloth Roads Team WarmisPhuskadoras! When the results come in the following teams will be pointed out as having spinners who have supported the Bolivian team: Team San Diego Country Spinners, Team Lydia Yarns Spinning, Team Shuttles, Team Webs, Team Sweet Georgia. Please let us know if you supported the Bolivian spinners but the name of your team is not included!

Thank you Teena Jennings for your continued support in so many ways! Thank you Lyn Lucas for your generosity and warm wishes.Dorinda Dutcher, October 3, 2016

CdA Activities Back on Track

Doña Máxima Checking on Cochineal Dye Pot

Doña Máxima Checking on Cochineal Dye Pot

It took the Club de Artesanas (CdA) members two dye days to attend to the pile of hand spun skeins of wool yarn that had been dropped off by the Huancarani weavers. All had requested cochineal tones, which was a good thing because this dry season is unusually dry and there are few local dye plant options. The municipality is rationing water and the hours it is available grow shorter weekly. Multiple containers were filled in the early mornings to handle the rinsing of the dyed skeins. Because both stovetop burners were not in use it was decided to premordant some of the skeins. On the first dye day alum was the premordant and on the 2nd dye day copper sulfate was used to dye the first batch of skeins a dark burgundy. There is something very satisfying about watching a clothesline full of newly dyed skeins drip drying.

Amy and CdA Women Working on Lace Knitting Samples

Amy and CdA Women Working on Lace Knitting Samples

Amy Booth played hooky from her volunteer work in Cochabamba with Performing Life Bolivia to volunteer in Independencia for a week. She enjoys lace knitting, so Lynne Watterson’s book, “The Very Easy Guide to Lace Knitting” which Dorinda’s Aunt Laura had mailed to the CdA years ago finally came off the shelf. It is now looking much used and loved. Amy worked with the women to knit a variety of samples from the book, and then they all trooped off to a local yarn store so the women could buy yarn to make sleeveless tops using their preferred stitches from the samples. Amy squeezed in 3 weaving classes with Doña Maxima and worked diligently into the wee hours completing her homework.

Amy´s Weaving Class with Doña Máxima

Amy´s Weaving Class with Doña Máxima

Although Amy had packed light for her week-long stay, she´d brought along 3 juggling clubs. John Connell, the founder of Performing Life, and volunteers teach circus skills to street kids. The kids use the skills to earn money by juggling at intersections around Cochabamba. The program is expanding to include aerial silks and trapeze and classes will be available for a fee to help subsidize the organization´s other programs. Amy is the second PAZA volunteer who spent years of her youth in a circus training program in London. She found out about Performing Life and PAZA through Sustainable Bolivia, a U.S. foundation in Cochabamba that has supported PAZA´s volunteer program and sales of the weavings since 2010.

CdA Kid, Emily, Marching with the 1st Graders

CdA Kid, Emily, Marching with the 1st Graders

August 6th, is Independence Day in Bolivia and the festivities kick off with a lantern parade the night before. A number of the CdA kids took advantage of the Club’s supplies to make their candle lit lanterns. Luckily, it was a lantern parade because the town’s electricity went off just as the parade started and didn´t resume until a few hours after it ended. The flaming “2016” sign of the graduating class was spectacular, as were the stars on the dark walk home. Everybody was dressed in their best for the official parade on August 6th. Volunteer Joey Hentzler arrived on the bus from Cochabamba during the parade and had no trouble finding Amy and Dorinda in the crowd.

Joey and the CdA Kids

Joey and the CdA Kids

Joey worked with the CdA kids teaching them about Día de los Muertos traditions in Mexico. They also used up leftover tissue paper from lantern making to make paper cutouts that were taped to string like prayer flags and taken home to decorate empty walls.

Everyone Smiled When the Juggling Clubs Came Out

Everyone Smiled When the Juggling Clubs Came Out

Alas, CdA trainer and weaver, Doña Maxima, was not sitting on pins and needles waiting to update Dorinda on 3-1/2 months of local gossip. In fact, local news is rarely related unless a topic is brought up that triggers a story. It was a bit of a shock while trolling for recent news to hear 2 year old scoop! While discussing the lack of retention of new CdA members, Doña Máxima said a member lasted only 1 year because her husband told her traditional weaving is something that only poor women do! It shouldn´t be a surprise considering that as rapidly changing rural Bolivia “progresses” the locals who now think of themselves as “modern” would spurn anything that might connect them with being old-fashioned. Doña Máxima didn´t appear disturbed about the attitude, her expression conveyed, “what idiots.” She did say that the CdA would probably be more successful in teaching weaving to young teens who live with female relative(s) who are weavers and can help at home.

Spinning with Joy, Photo Credit: Shelby Deaton

Spinning with Joy, Photo Credit: Shelby Deaton

Thank you Dorothy Thursby and Susie Strauss for your ongoing support of the PAZA activities. Thank you George Dutcher for your contribution to the soap making project. The smelly chore of rendering a mix of beef and sheep fat was done last week so the CdA members will be making lovely scented milled soap in the weeks ahead.

Thank you Jere Thompson for your help in getting the word out in our search for 2 volunteers for Spinzilla Spinning Week! We do need to raise funds for this year´s expenses which are estimated at $1,000. That account is currently in the red. Please consider supporting the Team Warmis Phuskadoras by clicking on the Donate button above. Thank you! Dorinda Dutcher, August 19, 2016

2016 WARP Conference

Everyone Benefits During Informal Gatherings

Everyone Benefits During Informal Gatherings

Nobody remains a stranger for long at a WARP Conference where new friendships take off like wildfire. All the laughter and joy was rejuvenating, although the to-do list from all the brainstorming sessions remains daunting.

Following a three and a half month absence from Independencia, it was wonderful to be able to reminisce with Kelsey Wiskirchen, Katie Simmons, and Susan Weltman who have all made the Andean trek to meet the weavers and to check out the PAZA activities first hand. Life wouldn’t be complete without checking in annually with the hardcore WARP members who attend each conference. A lot of work gets done,

It´s Always Worthwhile to Pay Close Attention to Philis´s Tales

It´s Always Worthwhile to Pay Close Attention to Philis´s Tales

but why can’t work always be as much fun as it is when Teena Jennings-Rentenaar Judy Newland, Jackie Abrams, Linda Temple, Deborah Brandon, Linda Ligon, Carol Pierce, Sara Lamb, Cathie Joslyn, and Adrienne Sloane are involved? The Conference closed with everybody on the edge of their chairs wondering what witty remarks, Cindy Lair, WARP President would come up with as she auctioned off folk art pieces at the fundraising Conference finale. One must always find an opportunity for sitting and chatting with Philis Alvic, who subtly weaves pearls of wisdom into very entertaining stories. Deborah Chandler couldn’t attend this year and was missed. Her mentoring since 2010 has been invaluable in PAZA’s progress. What would one have to pay a life coach for the suggestions and wisdom she so generously and graciously dispenses?

Doña Nilda Callañuapa and a CTTC weaver

Doña Nilda Callañuapa and a CTTC weaver

The annual WARP Conference tends to move around the country, although it’s moving out of country to Oaxaca Mexico next year. Thanks to the scheduling coinciding with IFAM this year the attendance was larger than usual. It had been a few years, so what fun to catch up with Edwina Bringle, Sam Brown, Tara Miller, Dale Fairbanks, Carol Ireland, Judy Krol, Karen Sprenger, and Susie Strauss. Personal thank yous on behalf of the Cloth Roads Team Warmis Phuskadoras were passed on to one of the original Spinzilla organizers, Liz Gipson, who helped with arrangements for the team the past 2 years. A quick verbal exchange with Marilyn Murphy, Cloth Roads cofounder and the team’s TNNA sponsor, set the ball rolling for the team’s participation this year.

Marilyn, Kelsey, and Jon at the Book Signing

Marilyn, Kelsey, and Jon at the Book Signing

A highlight at the Conference was witnessing the arrival of Marilyn Anderson´s new hardback book hot off the press from Guatemala. The book is a text compilation of fading handicrafts drawing on her decades of travel and research in Guatemala and illustrated with her woodcut prints. The books arrived just in time for the Sunday afternoon book signing. Marilyn´s husband, Jon, had joined her this year and hopefully he will attend future conferences.

Marilyn Tries on a Stylish Poncho at the CTTC Booth at IFAM

Marilyn Tries on a Stylish Poncho at the CTTC Booth at IFAM

WARP connections tend to have a ripple effect. It was through WARP that PAZA heard about and received support to attend the first Tinkuy International Weaving Conference in Cusco, Peru in 2010. The Tinkuy is hosted by the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales de Cusco (CTTC) and their Director and WARP member, Doña Nilda Calluñuapa. In 2010, Dorinda and Doña Maxima roomed with WARP member Laverne Waddington. Laverne has placed annual weaving orders ever since and her exacting specifications have been fundamental in the improvement of weaving quality over the years. This year a number of weavers who host Laverne´s U.S. weaving workshops placed orders as well, including Marilyn Romatka, founder of Taproot Folk Arts. The WARP Conference provided the opportunity for several brainstorming sessions between Marilyn and Dorinda that went beyond what email correspondence would have provided.

Thank you Kelsey, Jackie, and Katie For Your Years on the Board!

Thank you Kelsey, Jackie, and Katie For Your Years on the Board!

Nancy Meffe has been a WARP member and a PAZA supporter for years, and attended this year’s WARP Conference. She sells her own weavings through craft fairs and donates the proceeds doing business as “Weaving for Women of the World”. When I’m asked about what one can do to be involved with weavers in marginalized communities because moving to a remote mountain village isn’t practical I cite Nancy’s work as an excellent example of weavers helping weavers.

Thanks to the WARP Board and to Rita Chapman the WARP Administrator the Conference was incredibly fun and productive! Wouldn´t you benefit from a few days a year spent with kindred spirits who stand together in defiance of the gaping maw of global cultural homogenization? What are you waiting for? Join WARP! Dorinda Dutcher, July 20, 2016

PAZA Attends IFAM

WARP Members Enjoying IFAM, Sara is a Hoot!

WARP Members Enjoying IFAM, Sara is a Hoot!

The Internet access in Independencia has dwindled to just email text, so it is back to blog postings once a month from Internet cafes in Cochabamba. A lot has happened since the last posting written from the U.S. in June!

The 2016 WARP annual conference was held in Santa Fe, NM to coincide with the 13th annual International Folk Art Market (IFAM). Thank you, WARP! The thought of applying for a vendor booth would have remained just a thought if PAZA hadn’t had an opportunity to visit and evaluate IFAM as a possible sales venue for the Bolivian weavings. Dorinda volunteered 2 shifts at the booth of the only Bolivian artisans out of the 165 vendors. Bolivia is a small landlocked country, but it is a jewel due to the diversity, be it biological or ethnic and cultural.

Ines and Doña Ique

Ines and Doña Ique

Doña Ique Etacore represented the Cheque Oitedie Cooperative, a group of women who weave bags with plant fiber. She is an Ayoreo woman from what was once the heavily forested area of Santa Cruz which is a world away from Andean Bolivia. She was accompanied by Ing. Ines Hinojasa, an ethnobotanist from La Paz. This was their 6th IFAM year. Ing. Ines was outgoing, spoke excellent English, and remembered shoppers who had bought bags in past years. Doña Ique sat weaving with a needle or “spinning” the plant fiber by rolling it along her leg using a touch of ash to soften it, shyly responding when addressed. She and Ines made an excellent team.

The Stunning Guatemalan Hooked Rugs

The Stunning Guatemalan Hooked Rugs

One of the most eye catching booths was the hooked rugs made by Guatemalan artists using traditional motifs. The beginning of their fascinating success story goes to WARP member, Mary Anne Wise of Cultural Cloth.

The 2 days at IFAM did alleviate some concerns about applying, but the big question of what type of weavings to submit with the application was not answered. The folksy welcoming ambience of IFAM would help with the cultural shock of Doña Maxima and another weaver´s first visit to the U.S. Two weavers would have to make the trip together as a Quechua support system for each other. Through years of sales experiences PAZA has learned that the traditional products such as the ch´uspas (shoulder bags), fajas (belts), and tapa bancas (runners), don´t have a national or foreign market. Although the techniques for making the weavings for the yoga mat straps and zippered pouches are ancient, the end product is not traditional. So, the products that have a market aren´t appropriate for IFAM.

Doña Maxima Weaving a Motif Using the Embedded Double Weave Technique

Doña Maxima Weaving a Motif Using the Embedded Double Weave Technique

The most exquisite examples of woven folk art from this Andean area are the aguayos. Two identical weavings are woven on the rustic loom and stitched together forming a square that is used by men and women to carry cargo, infants, or toddlers on the back. Today, most of the aguayos in local use are one piece of inexpensive factory woven cloth. Last year the blog postings included Doña Máxima´s progress in weaving 2 aguayos as part of the required mayoral regalia for her husband’s term as mayor of Huancarani. She used brightly colored synthetic yarn which is “traditional” for rituals and celebrations as opposed to naturally dyed local wool yarn. She wove only one with a column of motifs using the embedded double weave technique. She hadn´t used that time consuming technique in over 20 years. IFAM seems like the ideal event to showcase that disappearing weaving

WARP Member Katie Simmons Bought Doña Justina´s Natural Dyed Aguayo in Independencia

WARP Member Katie Simmons Bought Doña Justina´s Natural Dyed Aguayo in Independencia

technique, but would the aguayos have a market? Should they be woven with synthetic yarn instead of the natural dyed wool used in all weavings currently sold through PAZA? The synthetic yarn wouldn´t be attractive to moths. Weaving production would have to begin a year before the application acceptance would be received. How could PAZA afford to prepay for weavings, especially considering that they haven’t found a market outside of an event like IFAM?

Hmmm, what are your thoughts? There is a need for some collective brainstorming. In the meantime, PAZA needs to focus on covering the 2016 Spinzilla expenses and then look ahead to taking 3 weavers to the November 2017 Tinkuy, International Weaving Conference, in Cusco, Peru. Dorinda Dutcher, July 18, 2016

Rescuing Andean Natural Dye Techniques

Tradition Use of Weavings with Synthetic Dyes and Natural Wool Tones

Tradition Use of Weavings with Synthetic Dyes and Natural Wool Tones

The Huancarani weavers grew up using brightly colored synthetic yarn for weaving and knitting festive wear and cheap easy to use powdered synthetic dyes for dyeing their local wool for colorful blankets. Undyed wool was frequently used for functional products such as woven gunny sacks and ponchos with the variety of natural colors allowing for contrasting stripes and designs. In 2007, the knowledge of natural dye techniques were fading but not lost when they asked Dorinda, a Peace Corps volunteer, if she could help them to rescue their natural dye techniques.

Smushing Macha Macha Berries, Huancarani, 2008

Smushing Macha Macha Berries, Huancarani, 2008

The first natural dye workshop in Huancarani took place in mid-March of 2008 and was a collaboration between the municipal government who supplied the transportation and a Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP) grant that paid the wages for a local woman who was hired as the local natural dye trainer and Doña Máxima who was contracted as the workshop coordinator and translator. The trainer had walked high into the mountains to harvest the macha macha berries for the workshop. Upon arrival in Huancarani the women took off to harvest suyku which was in full bloom. The leaves and flowers were stripped into a second borrowed dye pot. The trainer´s knowledge stemmed from a workshop a non-government agency had provided not from natural dye techniques handed down through generations. She had no knowledge of mordants and added a handful of salt, half a dozen halved limes, and a cup of vinegar to every dye pot. Today, suyku is the favorite local dye plant because of the range of hues the weavers have learned how to achieve through Ph manipulation.

1st Suyku Dye Pot Results, Huancarani, 2008

1st Suyku Dye Pot Results, Huancarani, 2008

The second dye workshop in Huancarani was the focus of the PCPP grant that paid for the Arte Andino Board of Directors who were all rural weavers to visit Independencia for 3 days of workshops. They brought cochineal for dyeing and alum, iron sulfate, and copper sulfate to teach the mordant process. The Huancarani weavers were intrigued with cochineal having participated in a cochineal workshop, but there had been no follow-up to the 1 day of training and they had no knowledge as to the cultivation of cochineal. It grows in Bolivia on the nopal cactus that resides at lower drier elevations. The mordants used regularly today are alum and millu a local mineral salt. Copper sulfate is used occasionally with plants and citric acid with cochineal for orange tones. Salt and chicha vinegar are also used on occasion.

1st Dye Workshop in Chuñavi Chico, 2009

1st Dye Workshop in Chuñavi Chico, 2009

Everyone´s interest in local natural dyes was piqued but Dorinda´s Peace Corps service ended abruptly and a few months later the Peace Corps left Bolivia. Three months later she returned on her own to carry on the natural dye workshops, and continued to call her volunteer efforts PAZA. Although Peace Corps had left a non-profit organization called KURMI had begun working in Independencia funded by a development contract for the empowerment of women. The local government continued to provide transportation to rural communities so that Dorinda, the local trainer and Doña Máxima could offer dye workshops in 5 rural communities. KURMI staff would occasionally participate in a workshop to present topics on women´s rights.

Don Jorge Teaching Intensive Course, Independencia 2009

Don Jorge Teaching Intensive Course, Independencia 2009

The mordant processes learned from Arte Andino were well practiced and in July of 2009 thanks to the collaboration of the municipal government, KURMI, and PAZA an extraordinary 3 day intensive natural dye workshop was held in Independencia to train local trainers. KURMI brought weavers from other highland communities with whom they worked. The trainer, Don Jorge Gandarillas, had been the Arte Andino natural dye trainer and had over 50 years of experience working with Andean textile revival projects. He was a tough taskmaster and at the end of the course he assigned the participants the task of teaching a dye class in their community and returning in October to share their experience with the group.

Group Photo with Results of Don Jorge´s July Workshops, 2009

Group Photo with Results of Don Jorge´s July Workshops, 2009

The group met again in October without the support of the municipal government, and sadly it was the last collaboration in support of the Andean weaving tradition in the municipality. Friendships had formed between the weavers from out of town and the local weavers. Upon meeting again, they exchanged information about their successful and unsuccessful experiments with the plethora of Andean dye plants. Each participant had to role play as a natural dye trainer in front of the class.

Doña Narciza Role Playing as a Local Natural Dye Training, October 2009

Doña Narciza Role Playing as a Local Natural Dye Training, October 2009

Without municipal government support PAZA couldn´t afford to visit rural communities and has worked only in Huancarani and Independencia since 2010. The local trainer did not attend Don Jorge´s workshops and her lack of interest resulted in Doña Máxima taking over as local trainer. The macha macha berry introduced in the first workshop produces a fugitive dye and hasn´t been used since 2009.  In 2011, KURMI´s development project was not renewed and their office closed.

Limited Natural Dye Palette, 2008

Limited Natural Dye Palette, 2008

Through the years the Huancarani and Club de Artesana (CdA) weavers have learned to eyeball their dye pots to make the minute adjustments needed to arrive at the tones they seek for the color coordination of their weavings. The first dye workshop had taken place towards the end of the rainy season when flowers, leaves and berries were at their peak, so it shouldn´t have been such a shock to realize that quick roadside gathering of dye plants wasn’t possible year around.

If called upon, many of the Huancarani weavers and all of the CdA women members could serve as natural dye trainers. The PAZA curriculum for the 5 part progressive natural dye workshop program is waiting in the wings for when collaboration to rescue and preserve the textile heritage of Independencia is once again possible.

Laverne´s May Order

Laverne´s May Order

Thank you Laverne Waddington for your latest weaving order that is keeping Doña Máxima and the weavers in Independencia busy. A hug and thanks to Joyce Dutcher for her contribution to the Dutcher Family Fund that serves as the revolving fund to pay the weavers as soon as they complete an order. Thank you Dorothy Thursby and Nancy Meffe for your long-term support that allows all the PAZA activities to continue day in and day out.

Hallelujah, it´s time to rev up for 2016 Spinzilla! Thank you Marilyn Murphy and Cloth Roads for sponsoring the Team Warmis Phuskadoras for their 3rd annual competition!

I look forward to seeing and/or meeting all of you who will be attending the WARP Conference and/or Santa Fe International Folk Art Mart. Dorinda Dutcher, June 27, 2016.

Looking Back to 2010

Dye Workshop in Huancarani, 2011

Dye Workshop in Huancarani, 2011

This posting reflects back on 2010 which was a roller coaster ride through PAZA´s darkest moments that sowed the seeds of what PAZA is today.

In early 2010, PAZA received a poorly typed letter stating that the gringa should leave Independencia because she was stealing the weaving tradition to take to her country. The author was never publicly identified but a few vocal women rallied to his cause. PAZA began in 2007 as a Peace Corps secondary project. The collaboration with the local government until 2009 made it possible to offer natural dye workshops in 5 rural communities and 2 intensive 3 day natural dye workshops in Independencia.

4 of These Weavings Went to France This Month

4 of These Weavings Went to France This Month

All local collaboration ended at a town meeting in October 2010 when the few contra-PAZA women who had been elected into positions of political authority stood on the stage shaking their fingers at Doña Maxima and Dorinda. They passionately exclaimed that they knew all that there was to know about traditional weavings and the market, so there was no need for PAZA’s technical assistance. Only the weavers of Doña Maxima´s community of Huancarani stood with PAZA. They are the only rural community of weavers in the area selling their weavings today.

Celebrating after Receiving the Official CAH Documents

Celebrating after Receiving the Official CAH Documents

The Huancarani weavers were going to hold a hunger strike to force local authorities to support PAZA. They were headed off by the Director of a local radio station. He suggested they form a legal weaving association to circumnavigate local politics. That led to 2 years of working through the bureaucratic red tape to form the Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani (CAH). It allows the weavers to seek financial support outside of the politically controlled municipal budget, which they’ve only done once as a training exercise. The members of CAH are responsible for setting the pricing for the weavings at their annual meeting each December. The Spinzilla Spinning competition is CAH´s biggest event of the year.

The Original Chicas, 2 Graduated and are Moms, 1 is Current CdA Chica Trainer

The Original Chicas, 2 Graduated and are Moms, 1 is Current CdA Chica Trainer

The Club de Chicas was born in 2010 out of the need to provide Doña Máxima with steady work and to help meet PAZA´s and CAH´s objective to preserve the local weaving tradition. The Club began during the school vacation, but when school started the 12 year old chicas didn´t have time to attend. Doña Máxima mentioned that women were interested in joining so several were invited to participate on Tuesdays and Thursdays. A few years later the Club name was changed to the Club de Artesanas (CdA). The original chicas learned to weave and were selling the weavings but by the time they turned 16 they had lost interest in the Club and in weaving. Motivating teens to learn how to weave is probably the biggest challenge facing any textile revival project. It is also the key to sustainability of any craft.

Katie was the 1st Volunteer and Made Her 4th Trip This Year

Katie was the 1st Volunteer and Made Her 4th Trip This Year

The women and chicas are highly skilled in the fiber arts, but have no resources to stretch themselves as artists. The rural communities still don´t have electricity to all homes. There are no magazines or newspapers for sale in Independencia. Few know about the postal service which is only available in the cities. Smart phones and tablets are making the Internet more accessible to youths thanks to data credit packages purchased through the cell phone companies, but the benefits for many adults are limited due to the high rate of illiteracy.

The Chicas Made Many Skirts Using the Pattern and Method Kelsey Taught Them

The Chicas Made Many Skirts Using the Pattern and Method Kelsey Taught Them

The PAZA volunteer program began in 2010 to provide technical assistance. The weavers have learned new fiber arts skills but still have not seen a foreigner weave or spin. For all they know foreigners do need to steal the Andean weaving tradition to learn how to spin and weave.

The CAH members have tossed down the gauntlet asking for a foreigner to join their 2016 Spinzilla team for Spinning Week which will be October 3rd to the 9th. The team has not had any inquiries for what will be an exceptional technical and cultural exchange for a foreign spinner. PAZA also needs a social media coordinator for the week to make the annual video clip.

The Chicas Learning to Weave, 2011

The Chicas Learning to Weave, 2011

Besides providing much needed technical assistance the volunteer program helps offset PAZA expenses. PAZA has no institutional support. Fundraising efforts began in 2010 when Dorinda attended her 1st  Weave a Real Peace (WARP) Conference. PAZA is supported by individuals (mainly women who are weavers) who understand the importance of helping women to help themselves so they can care for their families. Medical costs and school supplies are the two main uses for income generated from the sales of the weavings.

All CAH Meeting Minutes Are Signed by All But 1 Member Who Signs with a Thumbprint

All CAH Meeting Minutes Are Signed by All But 1 Member Who Signs with a Thumbprint

In 2010, PAZA sold 250 weavings for a total of $3,464 that went to 55 weavers in 9 communities. Last year PAZA sold 123 weavings for a total of $2,583 that went to 26 weavers of which 24 live in Huancarani or are members of the Club de Artesanas. Thanks to Laverne Waddington’s annual and additional orders and WARP member Susan Weltman’s February visit and order PAZA has already exceeded the 2015 sales by $300.

The saddest thing about the 2010 political brou-ha-ha is that the folly of a few was detrimental to the preservation of the weaving tradition and to all the weavers who could have been earning an income through the years. PAZA hopes that local collaboration will begin anew in the near future. The past years have been well spent training women who can take leadership roles when that day arrives.

Prepping Skeins for the Dye Pot, Huancarani

Prepping Skeins for the Dye Pot, Huancarani

It takes a village…. You don’t have to travel to rural Bolivia to be part of the weavers’ amazing journey. The purchase of the weavings, the gifting of financial support, fundraising assistance, and help to connect with potential volunteers are needed so that in 6 years we can once again look back in amazement of what a collective grass roots effort can achieve. Dorinda Dutcher, May 22, 2016

P.S. I am in the U.S. and am filling weaving orders from the U.S. inventory, please e-mail inquiries to dkdutcher@hotmail.com. Thanks for the words of comfort! My father is hale and hearty following 3 heart procedures and my mother has a new hip. Doña Máxima is doing an excellent job of keeping the CdA running and managing weaving orders in Independencia.