Club de Artesanas & Spinning Week

The First Club Workshop was a Spinnig Class, 2010

The birth of the Club de Artesanas in 2010 was the silver lining following the politically motivated public humiliation of Doña Maxima, a local, and Dorinda, an American, which ended collaboration with the municipal government of Independencia. The partnership was a continuation of Dorinda’s time as a Peace Corps volunteer and was a program offering a series of natural dye workshops in rural communities and assistance in the sales of traditional weavings.

Volunteer Kelsey Introduced the Chicas to Sewing Patterns and All Made Skirts, 2010

Three of the original four chicas in the Club were interviewed in the first documentary listed in this blog’s sidebar. They all learned to weave, and although they had a sewing class in high school they made many of their clothes on the Club’s sewing machines and through Club crochet projects. The volunteer program began at the same time, and the exposure to foreigners and working on projects not otherwise available to them was empowering. They were 11 to 12 years old when they joined the Club, and turned their interest to other

Reyna with a Completed Club Project, 2013

activities around the age of 16. All of them graduated high school, which is notable due to the lingering belief that there is little value in education girls. They all left Independencia and two of them earn an income through sewing. Reyna was the only original teen who wore the traditional pollera and blouse. She earned a wage on Saturdays during her senior year as the trainer for the younger girls in the Club. After graduation she switched to jeans before moving to the city, and later migrated to Argentina.

For 8 years, the Club had a lot of foreign influence, and the time seemed right in 2018 to turn it over to Doña Maxima and the members. The Club members continue to meet once a week. Dorinda (PAZA) continues to fundraise to cover the expenses of rent, Doña Maxima´s wage, and the Club´s activities and projects.

Weaving Circle, 2020

Three new 30-something members have joined since 2018, and although they’d had exposure to traditional weaving all their lives in their home communities of Sanipaya, they learned to weave from Doña Maxima. Thanks to the generous support of followers of this blog who responded to the last blog and placed orders for weavings, an order and funds were sent to Independencia in July. Two of the new Club members have attained the quality standard required for the orders.

Doña Marleny Grinding Cochineal, 2019

The 3 day natural dyeing extravaganza during Dorinda´s April 2019 visit was an intensive learning experience for the new members. Because skeins were dyed for the Huancarani weavers all have enough dyed skeins for 2020. Cochineal was purchased in 2019, and ground in a grain mill in anticipation of another round of dye days during the rainy season of 2020. Due to the COVID-19 lockdown, that did not happen and the Club met virtually between March and late June.

Zuni Crochets, and Doña Bea Lays Out Her Cubrecama (Bed Cover) Pieces, 2020

In July, the Club began meeting again in the PAZA workshop with 4 to 5 women and 4 chicas in attendance. The time has been split between sewing and crochet projects and traditional weaving. Zunilda (Zuni), who is Doña Maxima´s 11 year old granddaughter and Zoraida´s daughter has shown the most interest in the Club activities. As a toddler and little girl she slept away many an afternoon on a makeshift bed under PAZA´s vendor tables at craft fairs in Cochabamba. Her family lives in the city, but they have spent most of the past 6 months in Independencia. Zuni has woven numerous narrow weavings to learn the motifs, and announced that she´s ready to weave to sell, and would like to earn 130 Bs. by weaving a strap. The weavings purchased by PAZA have to be woven on a standing frame loom because using body tension to weave tends to lead to uneven edges. To encourage Zuni to tackle the standing frame loom, and so that she can serve as an example for the other chicas, a price will be set and funds sent to purchase her initial attempts.

Doña Claudia Warping a Weaving for a PAZA Order

Two of the new Club members participated in La Semana de las Phuskadoras (The Week of Women Who Spin) last year. They were on the team Phuskadoras Alegres with the 6 long-time participants of Sanipaya. It appears that the event will eventually become a competition between the spinners of Huancarani and those of Sanipaya, which can be viewed in the far distance to the north of Huancarani. The team Phuskadoras Alegres won last year. It was the first time the original Spinzilla team Warmis Phuskadoras had local competition.

Zuni Weaving with Assistance from Doña Claudia

This year’s Spinning Week is scheduled for October 5th to the 11th.  Of the 2 teams of 16 spinners, there are only 3 slots remaining to be filled. It is the second time the event will be managed by Doña Maxima, Doña Justina, Doña Beatris and members of the Club with no foreign influence. The budget is set for $800, and the organizers are tasked with figuring out what to do about prizes this year. The recognition of the spinners’ skills through the tangible awarding of prizes is important. The participants of the first place team will win a prize worth 100 Bs. ($14.50), and the value of the 2nd place prizes is set at 30 Bs. ($4).

The Club´s Annual Fiesta de Don Jorge, 2019

Support for the Club de Artesanas and Spinning Week may be made by using the “Donate” button on the blogsite, https://pazaboliviablog.com/. Thank you Lyn Lucas for your unwavering support of PAZA that has allowed the Club to carry on through the years. Thank you and hugs to George Dutcher (Don Jorge) who’s been supportive in so many ways. Thank you and hugs to Joyce Dutcher for contributing to the “Family Fund” that is used exclusively for placing and purchasing the weaving orders.  Dorinda Dutcher, August 22, 2020

PAZA in Transition

April Dye Day

April was a frenzied bittersweet month for the Club de Artesanas (CdA) members and the weavers of the Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani (CAH). Emotions were held in check by the need for action to vacate PAZA headquarters within 3 weeks. Two dye days and a soap making day were squeezed in as well. Doña Maxima and Doña Antonia wasted no time in locating another space a block away which they had repainted and with the help of Doña Beatris and Vilma turned into CdA´s new workshop/store. The goal is for the space to be used to create products that will sell locally. Doña Maxima will hold regular hours two mornings a week so local women wishing to learn how to weave can learn on a drop-by basis. She will continue to open the store on Sunday mornings for the Huancarani weavers.

Breny Explaining Changes

PAZA held a meeting in Huancarani on April 4th to answer questions about the abrupt change in routine with Dorinda moving to the U.S. and Doña Maxima taking on the leadership role. A million thanks to Breny Ugarte who miraculously managed to hitch a ride from Cochabamba to Huancarani in time to facilitate and translate the Spanish to Quechua. There were tears because the weavers haven´t realized that they don´t need constant foreign influence to carry on. Faces brightened as Breny explained the bonus program for master weavers to teach younger women to weave. Each weaver present promised to teach 1 younger weaver. Doña Casimira was so excited she stated that she will not retire from weaving after all and will teach as well.

Maribel Proudly Displays Her 1st Faja

The following Sunday Maribel, who at 21 is the youngest CAH weaver, arrived at the PAZA workshop/store with teen Angelica in tow. Angelica is the 1st bonus program student and is learning to weave from her partner´s aunt. Maribel had brought in a yoga mat strap and wanted to show Angelica how to work with Doña Maxima in turning in a weaving for payment. Maribel left with the CAH file of paperwork in her bag and the responsibility to keep it up to date. Dorinda had fulfilled the Secretary role at the request of past CAH Secretaries who had not had the opportunity to learn to read or write.

The Chicas Working Cross Stitch on Bags with Rebecca, 2017

The CdA women, chicas, kids and past members spent time reminiscing about the volunteers which made taking down the “Volunteer Photo Wall” a fun affair with laughter instead of tears. The photos were fairly divvied up. The cross stitch projects with Rebecca and embroidery work with Surya were mentioned by all of the chicas. Emily broke out in song with the chorus of “La Cucaracha” that she had learned from José a volunteer from Mexico. Stories of Amanda´s 5 years of jewelry making workshops were shared between the women, chicas, and kids. Emily and Linneth took home the puppet making materials from Profesora Judy´s class.

Lizeth Learned to Sew a Quilt with Marian, 2014

Although much of the CdA equipment and supplies went to the new workshop, some was divided between CdA members. Veronica and Nelva each took home one of the portable sewing machines. Of the 5 original CdA chicas, 2 of them are making a living by sewing. They learned at school but used the CdA sewing machines on a regular basis to make their own clothes. Reyna, who spent her senior high school year as the trainer for the CdA chicas is loving life and sewing for a company in Argentina. Lizeth, who wandered away from the Club her junior year and migrated to the city after graduation put in an appearance at the CdA workshop for the first time in 4 years and said, “I am buying an industrial sewing machine so I can work at home, I learned so much here, thank you.” Gabriela, who is studying hair styling in the city, was a CdA chica trainer her senior year. She dropped by for a plier set so she could combine jewelry making techniques she learned from Amanda, founder of Ruraq Maki, with hair adornments she learned how to make from volunteer Michelle Burdette in 2015.

Vero, Nelva, and Jhesica Selected 4 Sewing Patterns to Take Home

The word “democratica” was used many times as the chicas divvied up jewelry making and art supplies. Jhesica received the silkscreening supplies donated by volunteer Surya and the hair adornment supplies. Being cousins and neighbors, she and Nelva worked out an arrangement for sharing Nelva´s sewing machine. Dorinda and Doña Maxima´s will be shopping in Cochabamba next week for a new portable sewing machine for the workshop.

Group Photo, Huancarani, April 2018

The biblioteca (library) was PAZA´s pride and joy. Many of the books had been purchased or donated by the Peace Corps when the Bolivia program closed in 2008. Because the majority of the books were in English concerning development project themes 4 heavy bags and 2 box loads were lugged back to Cochabamba to a former Peace Corps volunteer who works for a youth service learning program and who also has ties to Biblioworks in Sucre. Many children´s books written in Spanish had been donated through the years. Some of those books went to the new workshop and some were divided between the CdA kids whose interest in reading has been sparked by those books. May ownership encourage them to continue to open book covers and disappear into the tales within.

The monthly blog postings will continue with Vilma being the Independencia news correspondent. Thank you Lyn Lucas and Dorothy Thursby for continued support as PAZA works through this transition. Dorinda Dutcher, April 21, 2018

A Time of Change

Meeting With Weavers, Huancarani, 2007

PAZA can be divided into 2 distinct phases reckoning back to its birth as a Peace Corps development project in 2007. The project objectives were the same that the weavers of Huancarani had stated as their needs at their first meeting with Dorinda that year.

  1. Preserve the weaving tradition
  2. Rescue natural dye techniques
  3. Access to a foreign market

Rural Workshop#5, Doña Maxima Teaching Color Coordination for warp, 2009

Phase #1 ran from 2007 through 2009 and was a time of collaboration and partnerships forming then falling apart. The Peace Corps left Bolivia in 2008. Dorinda carried on the work on her own partnering with Doña Máxima and they created a series of 5 natural dye workshops in 5 rural communities, barely keeping a step ahead of their students. The local government provided the transportation. A Bolivian non-profit organization began working in Independencia in 2008 and supported the 2 three day intensive dye workshops that grounded those interested in knowledge of local dye plants and the mordanting process.

Phase #2 began in 2010 when all local partnerships ceased due to petty local politics in Independencia. There were a few sleepless nights for Doña Maxima, the weavers of Huancarani, and Dorinda on how to move forward. The Club de Chicas (now Club de Artesanas) rose like a phoenix out of the ashes. Dorinda´s attendance at a Weave a Real Peace (WARP) Conference that year opened the door to a network of support that has flourished into friendships through the years.

1st Craft Fair, Cochabamba, 2009

Phase #1 sorted out the local players. Phase #2 has run for 8 years and has been a focus on training through activities and experiences. Volunteers have offered workshops on all sorts of fiber arts activities. A dye pot failure is just a challenge to be turned into a success. More Huancarani weavers dye small batches on their own for the unique colors they desire in their weavings. Doña Máxima and her daughter Zoraida participated in numerous craft fairs, taking home buyers´ comments to share with the weavers. There was a phase of product design through those years so there would be something new on the vendor table. The weavers formed their first Spinzilla team in 2014, and came to understand the responsibilities of team participation with each passing year. Doña Maxima attended the Tinkuy International Weaving Conference in 2010, in 2013 she did a weaving exhibition, and in 2017 she stood on stage along with Huancarani weaver Doña Justina and made a presentation. When it was over it left PAZA in a state of “now what?”

Volunteer Selina Teaching a Knitting Class, Huancarani, 2013

Change is scary and for PAZA it always comes as the evitable conclusion following sleepless nights. As Maria said in “The Sound of Music”, “where a door closes a window opens”. Forget about a window because the upcoming changes for PAZA will blow open many a door of possibility. Phase #3 will begin in late April. All the years of training in fiber arts skills need to be turned to entrepreneurial efforts. Doña Máxima and the Club women will step up into leadership roles and Dorinda will make a graceful exit and relocate to the U.S., specifically Bozeman, Montana. After a 11 year hiatus it is time for her to go back to work for a wage, and a foreign market for the weavings can be better

Breny Talking With the Weavers, Huancarani, 2010

pursued from the U.S. Long time PAZA collaborator, Breny Ugarte, is a native of Independencia but a Quechua speaking professional with experience working with development projects for women. She is ready, willing, and able to help Doña Maxima and the core Club members leap into the entrepreneurial phase. The traditional weavings don´t sell in Independencia, so having a line of fiber arts products that will sell locally can help more women earn an income. PAZA is leaving the Independencia based activities in good hands.

The Camaraderie of Spinzilla Spinning Week, 2014

There is no word in the English language that can express the deep sense of gratitude to you for your years of support and friendship. It is the goal of development projects to turn the project over to the beneficiaries. PAZA worked without a timeline and the training phase was allowed to run its natural course. Thank you. Dorinda Dutcher, March 29, 2018

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

Measuring the Spinzilla Spinning

Measuring Team at Work, Huancarani

Early Monday morning following Spinzilla Spinning Week the measuring team headed to Huancarani. The back of the contracted pickup truck was loaded with the measuring equipment for 3 measuring teams. Those necessities included a wooden table, 3 plastic chairs, 2 wooden stools, 2 plastic buckets, and a small washtub. It is important to the participants that the same measuring method is used for all of the yardage.

A few of the spinners had already gathered near the porch of the church where the measuring is done each year. Those who had flocks to attend to were given priority by the other spinners. Doña Máxima and Vilma

Cheryl Tallying

sat down on either side of the table and marked off their side with a 1 yard measurement. A bucket was placed to their left to hold the ball of yarn to be measured. As they measured off each yard it was passed to the spinner who stood on their right and rewound her ball of yarn. After measuring 5 yards the measurers hollered out “cinco” to Cheryl who sat at the head of the table tallying the results.

Comparing Balls of Yarn

It works best to have unbiased help in charge of the tallying. This year we were fortunate that Cheryl Cartwright who is volunteering for a few months in Bolivia was able to make a spur of the moment trip to Independencia and handle the tallying. Cheryl comes from Australia, another country with a large sheep population and spinners who participate in Spinzilla. Dorinda marked off a yard on the edge of the church porch and using the small round washtub to contain the ball of yarn measured while Don Julio, driver and husband of Doña Máxima, marked the tally sheet.

Doña Casimira has Won Her 2nd Spinzilla Competition

Measurements were taken for 17 spinners plus 3 on the waitlist. The balls of yarn for 2 other waitlisted spinners were collected for measurement in Independencia, the repetitive action of measuring was wearing. The balls of yarn are 2 strands, so only half of the total is measured. The women wind a ball of yarn by placing the tip of a filled spindle between the big toe and next toe of each foot and wind the 2 strands together. They will ply the yarn after it is dyed.

The measuring took about 5-1/2 hours and a few of the women were able to make a day of it. Doña Justina was wonderful by keeping an eye on the measuring and lending a hand to keep the yarn from tangling when it was not rewound fast enough. There were a few giggling sessions over jokes and some raucous laughter. All had brought a dish to share during the communal lunch. PAZA supplied the drinks. Huge cumulus clouds in all shades of gray rose over the mountains in the afternoon, a spectacular sight not seen in the valley where Independencia lies.

Measuring in Sanipaya

On Tuesday, the truck was reloaded and the measuring team headed past Huancarani to the rural community of Sanipaya. As in the past 2 years the measuring took place at the home of Doña Beatris. She splits her time between Sanipaya and Independencia and attends the Club de Artesanas when she can. The 6 spinners had gathered early to cook up a feast for lunch. A short meeting was held after lunch because it is the only PAZA visit to Sanipaya each year. The women asked if their prize could be different because they have a lot of shawls. There is a fiesta around Christmas time when a tree is adorned with shawls and through the years they have all accumulated plenty. They asked if their prize could be a sweater or a petticoat which they can use every day. The answer was yes, because they didn´t have any input into the prize decision.

Sanipaya Meeting

The results cannot be announced until after the official Spinzilla announcement. The team did spin more than in any of the past 3 competitions. Last year there was a community meeting and the inauguration of a potable water system in Huancarani and the 2 events impacted the amount of yardage spun.

Thank you Cheryl for helping out in so many ways! Cheryl responded to the S.O.S. put out by Milli Spence, former National Director of Sustainable Bolivia, to help with the measuring for Spinzilla. It is with great sadness that the 10 year partnership that PAZA has enjoyed with Sustainable Bolivia ended when they closed their doors in Cochabamba this summer. Many volunteers have found their way to Independencia through Sustainable Bolivia´s volunteer program. A huge thank you to Erik Taylor and all those who have worked in an administrative capacity through the years for your support and friendship, you will be missed. Dorinda Dutcher, October 12, 2017, dkdutcher@hotmail.com

Dye Season is Here

Road Side Suyku Above the Town of Independencia

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

Mordants, Assistants, and Suyku

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

Grinding Cochineal

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

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

CdA Weavers Happy with Their Suyku and Chilka Dyed Skeins

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

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

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

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

Chicas Making Jewelry on a Rainy Saturday

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

Doñas Justina and Máxima, Tinkuy Bound

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

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

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

Jewelry Making and Spinzilla Prep

grpchicas September kicked off with the much anticipated arrival of Amanda Smiles, founder of Ruraq Maki and jewelry making instructor. This was her 5th year teaching jewelry making techniques with wire and beads. She taught 4 morning classes to the Club de Artesanas (CdA) women and 4 afternoon classes to the CdA teens. There was an afternoon class with homework for the 2 CdA trainers, and a class in Huancarani.

Amanda and the Chicas with the Final Results

Amanda and the Chicas with the Final Results

The techniques have gotten more complex each year, and Amanda donated 2 jewelry making books to the PAZA library that contain all the techniques that she has taught in a variety of new designs. The class for the CdA trainers was added this year to teach them how to plan and prepare for the jewelry making days to be held once a month. They need to learn to monitor the projects so the supplies are used responsibly and the students use the techniques in designs that improve their skills. If any of the CdA participants decide to make jewelry to sell they will be able to buy the supplies through PAZA to get started.

Doña Antonia Chasing After Her Flock of Sheep

Doña Antonia Chasing After Her Flock of Sheep

There was a great turnout for the jewelry making class in Huancarani. Eighteen out of the 28 members of the Centro de Artesania, Huancarani (CAH) crowded around plastic sheeting in the shade of the church to make rings. Three women had to bring their flocks of sheep so the hillside and soccer field were full. Doña Antonia Calcina’s flock was ornery and she took off running multiple times as they edged towards the downhill slope towards home.

All Enjoy Making Their Bead Selection

All Enjoy Making Their Bead Selection

After the class there was a brief Spinzilla Spinning Week meeting. Sixteen spinners on the Cloth Roads Warmis Phushkadoras Spinzilla team live in Huancarani and 3 more are from Huancarani but live in Independencia. Many of the women were spinning or plying as Doña Máxima, the Team Captain, went over the rules and reminded everyone to start preparing roving. The rural women learned to spin as girls and it is odd to see them without a phuska (drop spindle) in hand.

Showing Off Their New Rings. The Hands to Beat During Spinzilla! Photo Credit: Amanda Smiles

Showing Off Their New Rings. The Hands to Beat During Spinzilla! Photo Credit: Amanda Smiles

The women and teens all send a hug and thanks to Amanda for the long trip to Independencia lugging the jewelry making supplies. It was 2 fun weeks that all look forward to every year. Many of her students commented on the ease of working this year thanks to the 10 sets of jewelry making pliers that had been donated by Ruraq Maki.

 A huge thank you to Spinzilla Team Coordinator Constance Hall and to Marilyn Murphy the Cloth Roads sponsor for the team for once again getting the word out to rally support for the Warmis Phuskadoras. The budget of $1,000 for the event has been met.

Doña Casimira Set Last Year´s Team Record of 4,680 Yards During Spinzilla

Doña Casimira Set Last Year´s Team Record of 4,680 Yards During Spinzilla

Thank you Debora Petschek and Alison Walsh for your support, all want you to come back soon to visit! Those of you who supported the team last year and again this year helped to convey to the spinners that their skill is recognized and valued. Thank you Margaret Tyler, Sarah Linder, Susan Brady, Katrina Stewart, Victoria Huff, Judy Gilchrist, Penelope Brakenbury, Linda Ligon, and Shani Kari. It has been fun hearing from new friends who are supporting the spinners this year. Your comments will be shared with the spinners during Spinning Week.Thank you Peggy McKoy, Jayne Schafer, Dana Davidoff, Janet Davis, Jeanette Lurier, Anne Bluemel, and Katherine Spitler. All the heartfelt comments and support demonstrate to the rural Bolivian women that there is a bigger world of spinners sharing the camaraderie and joy of Spinning Week.

Doñas Alicia and Narciza Are Highly Competitive with Each Other During Spinzilla. Photo Credit: Amanda Smiles

Doñas Alicia and Narciza Are Highly Competitive with Each Other During Spinzilla. Photo Credit: Amanda Smiles

A thank you is due to WARP member Jere Thompson for being proactive in getting the word out for 2 volunteers during Spinning Week. The spinners really do want to see a foreigner spin and had asked that a foreigner join the team. There were some inquires, so maybe next year… Thank you, Kate Larson, for writing the great article about the Bolivian spinners for the, “Spin Off” blog.

An apology and belated thank you to friend and former Peace Corps volunteer Emily Hooker for her continued PAZA support. As always thank you Lyn Lucas and Dorothy Thursby for your ongoing support that keeps the PAZA activities ongoing! Dorinda Dutcher, September 19, 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