Volunteers

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

Advertisements

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

July, Back in Independencia!

Alison and CdA Women Knitting Rabbit Face Booties

Alison and CdA Women Knitting Rabbit Face Booties

There is no place like home, and after a 3-1/2 month absence it seemed like Paradise to settle back into the PAZA rooms at the Casa Callejas in Independencia. Thanks to Laverne Waddington and the orders she drummed up through her weaving workshops in the U.S., the weavers had stayed busy. Doña Máxima had carried on the Club de Artesanas (CdA) once a week and had managed the orders, but she was relieved that activities would return to normal at the PAZA workshop.

Alison Teaching the Chicas How to Weave Bracelets

Alison Teaching the Chicas How to Weave Bracelets

Former volunteer and friend, Alison Walsh, arrived for a 2 week visit in mid-July. She made a sample of a babyt bootie with a rabbit face from a new pattern book in the PAZA library. All the CdA women decided they had a little one for whom they wanted to knit a pair. When Alison wasn´t knitting she was weaving bracelets in bright colors. One Saturday morning the CdA chicas admired the array of bracelets adorning Alison´s arms and asked if she would teach them, which she did immediately. Why haven´t the chicas shown any interest in learning the local traditional weaving techniques? Is it because it´s something grandmother used to do, thus old fashioned and not “cool”?

Alison & Doña Máxima Enjoy Campo Hospitality

Alison & Doña Máxima Enjoy Campo Hospitality

It’s time to think about prepping the house gardens for summer’s rainy season. Alison and Doña Máxima were game for an adventure, so a truck was hired to head to Doña Gregoria´s farm to buy “fertilizer”. Sheep are corralled every night, and the manure is raked out and piled high outside the corral, where it is allowed to age. There was no way to contact Doña Gregoria, but she hurriedly appeared in answer to the shouted greetings and her frantically barking dogs. Her alpacas and llamas were disappearing from view having been let loose earlier to graze. It´s dry season so they cover a lot of territory each day to feed. Doña Gregoria doesn´t have much company so she talked animatedly to Doña Maxima while serving her unexpected guests steaming plates of boiled potatoes and boiled corn.

Note the Weavings Used for the Cargo Rigging

Note the Weavings Used for the Cargo Rigging

Doña Máxima was handed a rope and sent her off in search of a burro to haul the gunny sacks of “fertilizer” up the mountain to the truck. Alison, 5 year old Cristian who is Doña Máxima´s grandson, and Dorinda began filling light-weight plastic gunny sacks they´d brought along. Prior to the appearance of plastic sacks, rural women wove “costales”, gunny sacks, out of llama fiber or local wool. Doña Máxima returned having had no luck in finding the burro.

Fiber or plastic gunny sacks are sewn shut for transport, so women´s sombreros are usually adorned with fake flowers and a large sewing needle or two. Doña Gregoria came out of her courtyard bearing rope halters, cargo padding, and straps. She picked out 2 nearby small horses that she and Doña Máxima quickly captured and loaded with the bags of fertilizer. Weavings are often used as part of the cargo rigging and wrap around under the tail of the horse or burro. The walk back to the truck didn´t look steep, but at the higher altitude the horses´ pace of walk 10 steps then take a break was ideal. Once the bags were loaded on the truck, the horses were let loose to roll and wander off. The humans all plopped in the shade of the pickup to enjoy a campo picnic – a communal pot of rice, potato, and fried eggs.

Hey Dad, This Is a Lot More Work Than a Trip to Home Depot!

Hey Dad, This Is a Lot More Work Than a Trip to Home Depot!

Team registration for Spinzilla Spinning Week took place on Sundays when the Huancarani weavers were in town for market day. Doña Beatriz who is a CdA participant when she´s not farming in her community of Sanipaya confirmed that she and 5 other spinners from Sanipaya wished to participate again. Unfortunately, there has been no response to the request for 2 volunteers for Spinzilla Spinning Week. The team slot for a foreign spinner will be held until the end of August, at which time it will be released to a local spinner. A social media volunteer is still needed in Independencia during the October 2 to 9 Spinning Week plus the 2 additional days to help with measuring the yardage.

Doñas Felicidad, Justina, and Toribia Waiting to Measure

Doñas Felicidad, Justina, and Toribia Waiting to Measure

The Spinzilla expenses are estimated to run about the same as last year which was $1,005, and those funds must be raised so that the event doesn´t impact other PAZA activities. PAZA has currently raised $0…. HELP?!  All the spinners win first prize to encourage teamwork and to recognize all of them equally for their phenomenal spinning ability. The prize they chose for this year is a new petticoat. The other expenses are vehicle contracts for 4 trips to the rural communities, extra days of wages for Doña Máxima, and the end of the year awards ceremony and feast. Please note on the Paypal form attached to the “Donate” button above that your contribution is for Spinzilla. Thank you from the Spinzilla team Warmis Phuskadoras!  Dorinda Dutcher, August 8, 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.

Shopping “Campo” Style

Llamas in a Variety of Colors

Llamas in a Variety of Colors

Susan Weltman, a weaver, who had listened to Dorinda´s tales at Weave a Real Peace (WARP) Conferences for the past 5 years, decided to check out Independencia for herself. Her husband, Steve Jervis, thought Bolivia sounded like a grand adventure and in late February they were Independencia bound. Although their stay was short, the Club de Artesanas (CdA) squeezed in 2 dye days. Susan and Steve treated Doña Máxima, Doña Antonia, and Dorinda to a “shopping” day in the campo. The other CdA members had kindergartners to pick-up mid-day so had to decline the excursion invitation.

Doña Máxima and Susan Examining the Alpaca Fiber

Doña Máxima and Susan Examining the Alpaca Fiber

The persistent chill rain stopped the afternoon before the excursion giving the road time to dry out. The air was fragrantly herbal and sun bright on the morning all climbed aboard the chartered pickup truck. The +1 hour drive headed up the mountains to the farmstead of Don Franciso and Doña Gregoria, owners of a variety of fiber on the hoof – alpacas, llamas, and sheep. The last fiber shopping trip to their farm had been in 2014. PAZA bought 3 kilos of tan alpaca fiber for $17.24. Doña Gregoria was firm on her price which hadn´t gone up since 2014, and she had no interest in raising it.

Towers that have Eclipsed the Vistas

Towers that have Eclipsed the Vistas

One huge change since the last visit was the intrusive electricity towers that marched through the family´s farmstead. The towers first appeared on the horizon to the southeast of Independencia in October 2014. By April 2015 the cable was being strung along their path through the Palca River Valley where Independencia is situated. The sheer speed and efficiency with which the towers were erected was an amazing feat to witness. Alas, there is no tower-free vista and the electricity generated by a new hydroelectric dam is traveling the cables to be sold outside of Bolivia, bypassing communities and farmsteads such as that of Doña Gregoria´s that lack electricity….

After the selection, weighing, and purchase of the alpaca fiber the group

Weighing the 3 Kilos of Alpaca Fiber Purchased

Weighing the 3 Kilos of Alpaca Fiber Purchased

ambled leisurely up the mountain following the grazing llamas and alpacas. A short break was spent watching the babies frolic. Doña Máxima identified her former llamas that she had sold to a llama broker for a pittance to help cover the costs of hosting Carnaval in Huancarani last month. Culturally she has more faith in ownership of livestock than money in the bank, so it saddened her to know the llamas were no longer hers.

Digging up Potatoes Without a Shovel

Digging up Potatoes Without a Shovel

The group continued uphill to the top of the world where the truck awaited. The next stop just past the crossroad to Huancarani was the potato patch belonging to Doña Antonia´s father. The ground was moist enough so that Doña Antonia and Doña Máxima could gently pull on the plants bringing the small white potatoes out of the rich black soil. Susan, Steve, and Dorinda walked along the side of the road picking the sunny yellow flowers, misiq´o (Bidens andicola) for the next day´s dye pot.

Steve and Susan Headed for the Picnic Spot

Steve and Susan Headed for the Picnic Spot

All loaded back into the truck to move a little lower in altitude to where the misiq´o flowers and suyku (Tagetes graveotens Schultz) could both be harvested along the side of the road. The truck headed down to a picnic spot, while the group walked downhill enjoying the views and harvesting dye plants. Susan’s comments of awe reminded the locals of their good fortune as to the abundance and variety of dye plants.

A huge thanks to Susan and Steve for an unforgettable week and for the weaving order, as well as for carrying the other orders back to the U.S.! Thank you Lyn Lucas, David Anderson, and Dorothy Thursby-Stern for your continued support. You´ll be happy to know that Doña Máxima has her llamas back. PAZA purchased them for $130 as a way to balance the wages she will not earn when the CdA meetings are reduced to 1 day a week during Dorinda´s upcoming U.S. trip. Dorinda Dutcher, March 12, 2016

Measuring in Sanipaya

Doña Rufina, Doña Beatris´s mom

Doña Rufina, Doña Beatris´s mom

At 8am Tuesday morning following Spinzilla Spinning Week the contracted pickup truck arrived to transport the Warmis Phuskadoras Team Captain, Doña Máxima, Dorinda (PAZA), and Shelby the social media volunteer to the rural community of Sanipaya to measure the yardage spun by 7 team members. The truck was quickly loaded with the measuring necessities including a wooden table with yard long measurement marks, 3 plastic chairs, 2 low wooden stools, 2 plastic buckets, and a bag of beverages. The truck wound its way up out of the Palca River valley and across the mountain tops past the turnoff to Huancarani and continuing on another half hour to the Sanipaya turnoff. It was another half an hour of winding down the mountain past the school and health post before finally stopping at what appeared to be the end of the dirt road.

Doña Máxima Measuring and Shelby Recording

Doña Máxima Measuring and Shelby Recording

Doña Beatris, is a Club de Artesanas (CdA) member, and divides her time between Independencia and her farm in Sanipaya. Last year she organized 2 other women in Sanipaya so the 3 of them could participate in Spinzilla, and this year she had organized 6 other spinners. She waved at us from her house which was on the other side of a wheat field that had been harvested and turned under.

Doña Beatris Winding 2 Strands Together

Doña Beatris Winding 2 Strands Together

Our driver, Don Vicente, was a great help all day. He carted the table through the field to Doña Beatris´s house, and served as a recorder to complete a third measuring team. Shelby worked as she had the day prior in Huancarani by recording for Doña Máxima and Dorinda who sat across from each other at the table calling out after every 5th yard they measured. The spinners rewound their balls of yarn as they were measured. There were breaks to stop and talk since 4 of the spinners were new to the competition this year.

The spinners of Huancarani had experienced Spinzilla last year and had a full year to think and talk about it. They also have worked with PAZA since 2007. As a Peace Corps volunteer in 2008, Dorinda had presented 2 natural dye workshops in Sanipaya. Unfortunately due to local politics a working relationship never developed between PAZA and the weavers of Sanipaya.

Rewinding Doña Rina´s Measured Yarn

Rewinding Doña Rina´s Measured Yarn

The last yarn measured this year belonged to Doña Rina. Her 2 balls of spun yarn were single ply and needed to be a double ply for measuring. Doña Máxima put each ball into a separate bucket at her feet so she could combine the 2 strands for measuring. Because the balls of yarn were different colors, they had to be separated after being measured. Doña Juana sat beside Doña Máxima to keep the measured yarn from snarling and fed it out to Doña Rina and Doña Tomaza who had formed a triangle to each side so they could each rewind a single strand. The standard practice to wind 2 drop spindles of spun yarn into a ball is to place a filled drop spindle between the big toe and the next toe of each foot and wind the 2 strands together. Give it a try….

Fleece to be Spun Draped Over Loom

Fleece to be Spun Draped Over Loom

Doña Beatris and her daughter Adviana who lives in Independencia and is a CdA member have been selling weavings through PAZA since 2012. The other spinners expressed interest in working with PAZA to sell weavings. A few workshops in Independencia will be necessary to teach natural dye recipes and how to weave to size specifications which the Huancarani weavers have been working on for 4 years. The piece missing in the government and non-profit organizations development projects concerning rural women generating income through the fiber arts is the sales and marketing. PAZA´s partnership with the local government to work with the Women´s Organizations in rural communities ended rather dramatically at a public meeting in Independencia in 2010. The results of the Spinzilla competition will be presented to the mayor of Independencia with the hope it will help open the doors to local partnerships.

Measuring Completed, Headed Back to Truck

Measuring Completed, Headed Back to Truck

In December, at the annual Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani (CAH) meeting the prizes and participation certificates will be handed out to the Huancarani spinners. Every spinner wins, and all participants will receive a sweater, which was their choice for the prize for participating. Doña Beatris will award the prizes and certificates in Sanipaya. Both Doña Máxima and Doña Beatris did excellent jobs in meeting their responsibilities for organizing the team. It´s been a joyful experience for the team and they share that joy and send their thanks to their TNNA sponsor Cloth Roads, all of you who made it possible for them to participate, and to spinners everywhere. Dorinda Dutcher, October 15, 2015