Laverne Waddington

Huancarani Weave-In

Weave-In, Huancarani

Weave-In, Huancarani

The weavers of Huancarani were thrilled upon hearing that “La Laverna” would be visiting. They asked if arrangements could be made for her to visit Huancarani because they wanted to meet her. Laverne has placed orders since 2011 for weavings she uses in her weaving workshops. Her specifications were instrumental in the weavers learning about quality expectations when selling to a foreign market. Almost all have learned how to use a measuring tape instead of hand spans.

Laverne Teaches Doña Narciza Using a Diagram While Doña Felicidad Learns Using a Sample

Laverne Teaches Doña Narciza Using a Diagram While Doña Felicidad Learns Using a Sample

On Friday, Laverne, Doña Máxima, and Dorinda loaded into a hired van for the ride to Huancarani. Laverne immediately set up her back strap loom on the lawn in front of the church and began weaving while waiting for the weavers to arrive. They arrived singly coming from all directions; many of them were spinning or plying with their drop spindles as they walked. All arrived with huge smiles, stopping to shake hands and take a good look at La Laverna. They sat around the first back strap loom they had ever seen pointing and talking among themselves. When they are weaving a strap using body tension they tuck the end into the waistband of their pollera (skirt). Later Doña Máxima translated the Quechua and said the only strap the weavers had associated with weavings was the strap they make to secure the weavings used for cargo padding onto a horse or burro. Doña Máxima also related that she

Maribel Makes a Copy of the Figure Diagram

Maribel Makes a Copy of the Figure Diagram

had told them that while she did the exposition weaving at the 2013 Tinkuy the Peruvian weavers who use a back strap loom said they liked the idea of working without a back strap because it would be easier to leap up and attend to other tasks such as pots boiling over onto the wood fire.

It wasn´t long before the weavers´ fingers began to twitch and they wanted to learn new figures by doing. Doña Máxima warped straps and she and Laverne began teaching using diagrams from Laverne´s book, “More Adventures with Warped Face Pick-Up Patterns, A Follow-Up to Andean Pebble Weave”. This was a new approach for the weavers who have all learned by looking at a sample and memorizing the patterns. They prefer that method and said as grandmothers they are too old to learn a new way. However, 19 year old Maribel quickly understood how to read the pattern diagram and moved herself away from the others to be able to focus and weave, well as much as one can focus with a 2 year old.

Group Photo with Laverne

Group Photo with Laverne

In 2015, Maribel had briefly joined the Club de Artesanas (CdA) in Independencia but moved to Huancarani to live with her in-laws. During her time with the CdA learning to weave did not click, so the diagram was a breakthrough for her. By the end of the day she was reciting the pick-up pattern from the diagram to help her elders! She joined the Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani (CAH) in 2015 and is always the first to pay her dues. She wants to be part of the community and that means being a weaver. Because she is generations younger

Doña Narciza Walked 4 Hours To Independencia to Learn More Figures the Day Laverne Left

Doña Narciza Walked 4 Hours To Independencia to Learn More Figures the Day Laverne Left

than the weavers her youth was spent in school not shepherding and weaving. Another young mother walked uphill from a nearby community with her husband and daughter to learn more about the possibility of weaving as an income generating possibility for the family.

There were a lot of “Aha” moments as the weavers figured out new figures by examining an example or learning how to read a diagram. Some of the weavers had brought examples of their work and taught figures to others. July will be 10 years since the first PAZA meeting in Huancarani and it was a shock to realize that this was the first Weave-In! Thank you, Laverne!  Dorinda Dutcher, January 13, 2017

Independencia Weave-In

Laverne Demonstrating on Her Back Strap Loom

Laverne Demonstrating on Her Back Strap Loom

Laverne Waddington crosses continents in her annual travels to teach weaving workshops. Early in January she crossed Bolivia to visit Independencia. The flight from her home town of Santa Cruz in eastern Bolivia to Miami is shorter than the bus ride from Cochabamba where Dorinda met her to Independencia. Laverne, Doña Máxima, and Dorinda were roommates at the 2010 Tinkuy in Cusco Peru having connected as the only Bolivian based Weave a Real Peace (WARP) members. Doña Máxima and Dorinda have tried to lure Laverne to Independencia ever since.

The Chicas Finally "Got It" by Using Laverne´s Diagrams

The Chicas Finally “Got It” by Using Laverne´s Diagrams

Laverne´s first day in Independencia dawned sunny and Club de Artesanas (CdA) members began arriving casting shy glances at the foreign weaver they had heard so much about. Nobody knew what to expect because none of the local weavers had seen a foreigner weave. She worked with the adult weavers Adviana, Doña Antonia, and Doña Máxima and they worked with the teens. FINALLY, it happened! The weaving fever was contagious and the teens caught it and chose to weave all day along with the women. Not only were they weaving and enjoying it but the barrier between the adults and teens disappeared as all worked together.

Warping the Leaning Frame Loom

Warping the Leaning Frame Loom

Doña Máxima remembered that there were still a few spools of  Pearly Perle cotton yarn that Irene Schmoller, founder of Cotton Clouds, had donated in 2013. She used it to warp straps for the chicas. The cotton yarn is smoother than the handspun wool yarn making it easier to move the heddle strings and less frustrating for beginners. Doñas Máxima and Antonia warped a short leaning frame loom so Laverne could teach one of the larger motifs from her book.

Doña Máxima Getting One on One Instruction from Laverne

Doña Máxima Getting One on One Instruction from Laverne

The CdA members had a day off while Laverne went to Huancarani. On Saturday which was her last day Adviana, Doña Máxima, and the chicas returned to learn more figures. The weavers sat every which way on the walkway weaving and enjoying the quiet camaraderie and crisp freshness following the night´s rainfall. Laverne wove on her back strap loom when not helping others. Doña Máxima sat on a low stool in front of the leaning frame loom. Adviana and the chicas worked figures using body tension looms tied to the flower garden railing or their big toes. The scene was everything the Club de Artesanas was supposed to be when it began as the Club de Chicas in 2010 to teach teens to weave.

Laverne Picked Up Her 2017 Faja Order in Independencia

Laverne Picked Up Her 2017 Faja Order in Independencia

Laverne began placing weaving orders in 2011 with specifications and an expectation that the quality meet her standards. She has critiqued as necessary sending accompanying photos which have been Doña Máxima´s main learning tool on working with the weavers to improve the quality of the weavings for the foreign market. The weaving orders for “La Laverna” are given to the weavers who have listened and learned through the years and who have progressed from weaver, as are all women in the rural communities, to artist. In 2016, Laverne let it be known in her U.S. weaving workshops that weavings could be ordered from the Independencia weavers and those sales helped to make it the best year for sales so far. Laverne is too modest to ´fess up to all the help she has provided the Independencia weavers, but she has been instrumental in their growth as artists. Her visit was an inspirational and extraordinary three days for everyone involved. Dorinda Dutcher, January 15, 2017

Happy Holidays to All!

A Day with CdA - Crocheting, Warping a Weaving, Playing

A Day with CdA – Crocheting, Warping a Weaving, Playing

Doña Maxima is keeping the Club de Artesanas (CdA) activities going twice a week and is opening the PAZA workshop on Sundays to meet with the Huancarani weavers. PAZA activities will kick into high gear when Dorinda returns to Independencia next week laden with activity supplies.

Veronica In Tank Top She Crocheted and Necklace She Made

Veronica In Tank Top She Crocheted and Necklace She Made

The Club members will discover the world of micro-organisms using the new PAZA microscope. Have you ever checked out the difference between llama, alpaca, and sheep fiber at a microscopic level? New books and puzzles will enchant the kids who will attend the CdA with their moms now that summer vacation has begun. The teens will be excited about the new jewelry making supplies. Although piñatas are not a Bolivian tradition, the CdA members will be making piñatas to take home for family fun along with the cookies they bake for holiday cheer. A batch of basic soap is waiting to be milled into fragrant fine soap.

Palca River, 2007, Access for Washing Everything is Just Above the Bridge

Palca River, 2007, Access for Washing Everything is Just Above the Bridge

Hallelujah! Doña Máxima reported that the rains have arrived! The Bolivian President, Evo Morales, declared a State of Emergency late last month due to the continued drought and water shortage caused by disappearing glaciers and 2 years of low precipitation. Water is life. It can also be full of life. What will be observed in water samples taken from the Palca River above and below where laundry and vehicles are washed and from the water sources folks use for drinking water? The microscope may provide that missing piece that will make the PAZA basic sanitation classes more effective.

Annual CAH Weavers' Meeting, Huancarani, 2015

Annual CAH Weavers’ Meeting, Huancarani, 2015

Doña Máxima and Doña Justina have scheduled the annual Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani (CAH) meeting for December 22nd. The topics to be discussed are Spinzilla, weaving pricing for 2017, and the upcoming Tinkuy International Weaving Conference. The weavers will enjoy the annual feast and Spinzilla Award´s Ceremony after the meeting. Many thanks to Constance Hall, Spinzilla Team Captain Coordinator, for her help in drawing attention to the support needs of the Cloth Roads Warmis Phuskadoras team and for providing each spinner with a Certificate of Participation.

Thanks to Karen Sprenger, a backstrap loom weaver living in Kansas, the time Dorinda will be spending in Kansas will be a boon for PAZA. In 2013, Karen met Doña Máxima and Dorinda at the 2nd Tinkuy International Weaving Conference in Cusco. Last July, she and Dorinda crossed paths at the annual WARP Conference. She asked what she could do to help, and what fun wonderful help she´s providing!

pillowcoversIn November, she made arrangements for Dorinda to talk about PAZA at the KC Fiber Guild meeting. Karen had brought 3 Independencia weavings that she had received at the weaving workshops she´s taken from Laverne Waddington. What a wonderful surprise to see the weavings again and to note how Laverne uses them in her workshops. The visual impact of the more recent weavings was striking due to how the weavers have evolved in their use of color. Karen is making arrangements for a joint presentation with Dorinda in April 2017 and participation in a 1 day craft fair.

These Yoga Mat Straps Found Appreciative Owners in WA.  Photo Credit: Jenny Heard

These Yoga Mat Straps Found Appreciative Owners in WA. Photo Credit: Jenny Heard

A few sales were made at the KC Guild meeting and then Karen took the remaining PAZA weavings to sell alongside her work at the Craft Fair in Burlington, Kansas. This is exactly the help the weavers desperately need. Thanks to Laverne Waddington 2016 has been the year of highest sales.

There is quite a bit of weaving inventory in the U.S., so if you are looking for a handcrafted gift for the holidays or anytime please send inquiries via an e-mail to dkdutcher@hotmail.com. The 2 sizes of yoga mat straps fit a ¼” thick exercise mat ($22) or a 1/8” thick sticky mat ($21). Other items include wallets ($15), zippered pouches ($16), and there are 2 chuspitas ($25) woven by Doña Maxima. Also available are the pillow covers ($27), belts ($16), and guitar straps ($20).

The CdA Cookie Baking Will Bring Holiday Cheer to Many Families

The CdA Cookie Baking Will Bring Holiday Cheer to Many Families

Thanks and a holiday hug go out to PAZA´s longtime supporters Lyn Lucas, Dorothy Thursby, and Nancy Meffe. Thank you Krieger Family and Shannon Dutcher for your support. Joyce Dutcher, PAZA´s earliest and strongest supporter, has again donated to the Dutcher Family Fund which is the revolving fund allowing immediate payment to the weavers for their work. Thanks mom!

¡Wishing all of you a Merry Holiday Season and all the Best in 2017! Dorinda Dutcher, December 7, 2016

Spinzilla Preparation

Vilma Beating The Debris from a Sheep Skin

Vilma Beating The Debris from a Sheep Skin

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

 

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

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

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

Vilma Examing Her Sheep Skin Prior to Cutting the Fleece

Vilma Examing Her Sheep Skin Prior to Cutting the Fleece

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

Doña Màxima Cutting Fleece

Doña Màxima Cutting Fleece

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

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

Finally, roving

Finally, roving

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

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

The Results of a Long Day´s Work

The Results of a Long Day´s Work

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

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

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

Doña Máxima in Charge

Ah… Technical difficulties, always a learning experience. The April posing is duplicated to connect it to this current blog.

Doña Máxima in Charge

Doña Máxima in Charge

Doña Máxima took over at the helm of PAZA following Easter weekend when Dorinda made a hasty departure from Independencia in response to a family emergency in the U.S. The women of the Club de Artesanas (CdA) will meet once a week at Doña Máxima´s house. The Saturday morning program working with the teen girls will be discontinued until Dorinda´s return in July. The chicas know they can work on their weaving skills during Club days at Doña Máxima´s house.

Thanks to Jenny These Yoga Mat Straps Found Appreciative Owners in WA

Thanks to Jenny These Yoga Mat Straps Found Appreciative Owners in WA

Doña Máxima will open the PAZA store/workshop on Sunday mornings to work with the rural weavers who will be dropping off and picking up orders. Three months was spent in 2009 to simplify an accounting and inventory system that she could manage on her own. Although daunted by the responsibility and amount of money she must account for over the next 3-1/2 months, her body language said she accepted the challenge and she would strive to excel. The weavers have been riding high on the momentum built up thanks to the weaving orders received and completed the past 3 months. The momentum will continue as PAZA uses this opportunity to figure out how to operate if Dorinda needs to spend more time with family in the U.S.

Adviana & Her 3 Kids Enjoy Their 1st Easter Egg Hunt

Adviana & Her 3 Kids Enjoy Their 1st Easter Egg Hunt

Easter weekend went off as planned so Doña Mäxima´s grandchildren who had counted down the days until the Saturday for dyeing Easter eggs were not disappointed. CdA member Adviana was invited to bring her children for their first Easter egg hunt. The prowess of those who had the experience last year was noticeable, but when the hunt was over the kids voluntarily divided up the treats in an equitable manner.

One More Dye Day Is Needed This Month

One More Dye Day Is Needed This Month

On Monday, Dorinda and Doña Máxima discussed what needed to happen over the next few months and figure out a budget. One of the sewing machines, sewing notions, material, and a table were carried up to her house so the CdA women could work on sewing wing notions, material, and a table were carried up to her house so the CdA women could work on sewing projects. Funds were left for the CdA women to buy 5 skeins of yarn for crochet or knitting projects ($7 each). They will need to haul the dye equipment up the hill to Doña Máxima´s house for at least 1 more dye day for the popular cochineal reds.

Spinzilla 2015 Prizes Being Handed Out in Huancarani

Spinzilla 2015 Prizes Being Handed Out in Huancarani

Travel expenses were figured for Doña Máxima to travel to Cochabamba to collect a wire transfer, drop off weavings for travel to the U.S., and to get cost estimates for the petticoat material that the CdA members will sew for the 2016 Spinzilla participants. All win first prize, and the weavers voted on a petticoat as this year’s prize. When Dorinda returns to Independencia in July it will be time for the Spinzilla team registration and putting together a budget for the fundraising effort. Last year $975 was raised almost covering the $1,005 in expenses.

Doña Máxima Weaving 2 Yoga Mat Straps at a Time

Doña Máxima Weaving 2 Yoga Mat Straps at a Time

To complicate Dorinda´s last day in Independencia, a transformer in the neighborhood blew mid-afternoon knocking out electricity on the block. Once the sun set the remaining chores to close down the house and pack were done by the light of 3 candles. It is never easy to leave Independencia, but it is a luxury to spend time in the U.S., and always a pleasure to return to Bolivia.

Thank you Lyn Lucas and Dorothy Thursby-Stern for your ongoing devotion and support of the weavers. Doña Máxima is ready to take on the responsibilities laid on her shoulders, but it has taken all these years of training and experience to set her up for success. Thank you Linda Switzer for your timely help. A huge hug and thank you to Susan Weltman for the donation she sent which is due to her savvy marketing of the weavings. She not only marketed the weavings but came to Bolivia to pick them up!

Warping a Faja for Laverne´s Order Last January

Warping a Faja for Laverne´s Order Last January

Thanks to Laverne Waddington, an order was received by Dorinda in the U.S., communicated to Doña Máxima in Independencia, and will arrive in the U.S. with the yoga mat straps Dorinda had ordered and originally planned to bring to the U.S. in May.

PAZA Friend Dorothy and Doña Máxima at 2013 Tinkuy

PAZA Friend Dorothy and Doña Máxima at 2013 Tinkuy

The expenses needed to cover Dorinda´s emergency trip and extended U.S. visit would have been difficult to meet without the generosity of family members. Thank you all. Her sincere gratitude goes to Nancy La Scola for the visit and the PAZA support. The past month has been a reality check as to the financial imprudence of 10 years of volunteering. More help is needed in the funding of the PAZA activities. Spinzilla 2016 is rapidly approaching. Looking further ahead the expenses to take 3 weavers to the Tinkuy International Weaving Conference in Cusco in 2017 will need to be met.  Please help by purchasing weavings, making a donation, or helping to get the word out about the volunteer program. Inquiries for purchasing the weavings can be sent to dkdutcher@hotmail.com.

The monthly blog postings will continue and feature photos and tales from the past that disappeared into a black hole in cyberspace along with the original blog site in 2013. Dorinda Dutcher, April 20, 2016

Festivities and Visitors

2016 Carnaval in Independencia

2016 Carnaval in Independencia

The month of February flew by due to the week-long Carnaval festivities. Visitors Katie Simmons and Chris McNulty arrived in time for Independencia’s Carnaval parade. Local communities competed for the 5 cash prizes awarded for the best traditional dress, music, and dance during their 20 minute performance in the plaza. Spectators kept one eye on the dancing and one eye on the lookout for incoming water balloons. The dancers were prey to the water balloons, water guns, buckets of water refilled from the plaza fountain, and foam from spray cans. The muddy and slippery streets made for treacherous footing. The spectators were attired in raincoats or covered with sheets of blue plastic that sell for $1.00 per meter and effectively warded off the rain and wetting from the water balloons.

Doña Antonia Adding Potatoes to the Copper Pot

Doña Antonia Adding Potatoes to the Copper Pot

The following day Katie, Chris, and Dorinda chartered a truck for the trip to the Carnaval fiesta in Huancarani. It was Doña Máxima’s finale as wife of the mayor of Huancarani, and an end to the year-long responsibilities and expenses. Two of her sisters and her daughter had arrived from Cochabamba to help with the cooking to feast the community for 3 days. Her oldest daughter and 2 eldest sons were also lending a hand. Her youngest son spent the day lobbing water balloons at other

Raising the Carnaval Banner

Raising the Carnaval Banner

youths. Weaver Doña Alicia was among the women peeling a mountain of potatoes. Later she told Doña Máxima that although her family is Evangelic Christians and don´t participate in events serving chicha, she came to help as a way to repay Doña Maxima´s guidance in improving the color combinations of her weavings. Doña Máxima and family looked on the verge of collapse, and she admitted to not having much sleep for two weeks. The chicha (fermented corn beverage) preparation the week before had involved a couple of long nights of stirring the corn mash mixture.

Doña Máxima Adorning Katie with Streamers

Doña Máxima Adorning Katie with Streamers

Two meals were served before the music and dancing started in the late afternoon. Six sheep had been butchered and the meat was boiled in a huge copper pot heated with firewood. Many women of the community had arrived early to peel that mountain of potatoes that were boiled in the adjoining copper pot. The Organization of Men´s Clubhouse had been turned into an indoor kitchen, serving area, and dormitory. While the women cooked the men drank chicha and held a ceremony prior to raising the Carnaval banner.

Katie Dancing with Doña Maxima´s Granddaughter, Emily

Katie Dancing with Doña Maxima´s Granddaughter, Emily

The women and girls were in a mix of western wear and polleras (skirts), although many who prefer western wear had donned a pollera for the dancing. Katie was outfitted with one of the bayeta (loosely woven wool cloth) polleras Doña Máxima had made for Carnaval. Dorinda wore the bayeta pollera that was made by CdA members and dyed with cochineal during a Club dye day. In the midafternoon residents from the city with roots in Huancarani began arriving. The teens brought water balloons and spray foam. One weaver commented that she didn´t want her woven aguayo hit with either. The music began long before the dancing, and many a young man from the city picked up a drum or pipe. All were in western wear. Culture is dynamic, what will the young retain and what will they abandon?

Annie and the CdA Weavers

Annie and the CdA Weavers

Street life in Independencia returned to normal the week after Carnaval which also marked the beginning of the school year. The Club de Artesanas (CdA) began a new session for the women on Tuesday the 16th. Sixteen year old Gregoria, a single mom, is trying out the Club because she is motivated to learn how to weave so she can care for her daughter. She and Annie Trowbridge, a PAZA volunteer began learning how to weave figures under Doña Máxima´s tutelage. Annie taught a drawing class which engrossed the women once they got over their initial reticence.

Laverne´s 2016 Order

Laverne´s 2016 Order

February was the all-time record month for sales since PAZA began in 2007. Thanks to Laverne Waddington´s annual faja order and the yoga mat strap orders for Susan Weltman,  Jenny Heard, and Mary Ann Zelinsky plus the purchases made by Katie and Chris the weavers are smiling instead of stressing out over how they are going to pay for school supplies and uniforms this year. Katie is the proud owner of the natural dyed aguayo woven by Doña Justina a few months ago. She also bought 3 of Doña Eulalia´s

Sampling of Susan´s Yoga Mat Strap Order

Sampling of Susan´s Yoga Mat Strap Order

weavings. Doña Eulalia is the most photogenic of the weavers because she normally sports a beautiful smile. She arrived at the store in panic mode yesterday clutching the lists of school supplies for her sons. The worry lines and tension visually melted when she was handed a payment envelope. The heartfelt “thank yous” went on until she flashed her signature smile and was out the door and on her way to the shops. Thank you Lyn Lucas, Laura Dutcher, and Dorothy Thursby-Stern for helping to make PAZA´s slow but steady progress possible! Dorinda Dutcher, February 22, 2016

Sleepy January

¡Happy Birthday, Don Jorge!

¡Happy Birthday, Don Jorge!

The Club de Artesanas (CdA) held the Fiesta de Don Jorge on January 12th to liven up the month. Most CdA members had fled to the city or rural communities for this last month of the school vacation, so the few members in town brought all their kids or siblings. Eight year old Zuni and 10 year old Veronica made a lime cake and a chocolate cake so that the end result would be a 4 layer cake of alternating flavors. While the cake baked they moved into the biblioteca (library) to join the other kids in making masks, crowns, and sombreros locos for the “Grand March”. The teen chicos who have participated for 4 years weren´t sure if it was cool but couldn´t resist the lure of Pique Macho for lunch and in no time they´d joined into the spirit of the party.

Prepping Pique Macho

Prepping Pique Macho

According to the story in Emilia Romero´s cookbook, “Cocina Tradicional Boliviana” the origin of Pique Macho began late 1 night when a woman was awaken from a sound sleep to prepare food for her husband and his friends who´d been out on the town. Fuming she cooked with what was on hand and piled high a platter with French fries, sauced meat, chorizo sausage, onion and tomato slices, and swirled ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise over all. She then added a thick layer of fresh hot chili pepper slices. She slapped the platter down in front of the men saying, “Piquen (nibble/snack) now and we´ll see if you´re Macho”. Obviously, it´s a hugely popular dish, but it is a lot of

Fries Over Fire

Fries Over Fire

work. Doña Máxima insisted that the best way to cook the fries was outside on the firewood grill. They were heavenly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. The kids loved garnishing their own plates from the assortment of condiments.

Games were played between lunch and cake, and although they´re always the same the enjoyment never seems to lessen. There were prizes of school supplies and toothbrushes for all. The great thing about the party is that half of the party and fun is in the joint preparation which makes hosting easy. Don Jorge is Dorinda´s dad, and he receives photos and birthday wishes in time for his February birthday.

Doña Verna Watching Doñas Maxima and Antonia Warping a Faja for Laverne´s Order

Doña Verna Watching Doñas Maxima and Antonia Warping a Faja for Laverne´s Order

The weavers are working on 2 orders which has never happened before. Laverne Waddington who has been a strong supporter of PAZA since meeting Dorinda and Doña Maxima at the 2010 Tinkuy had placed her annual order for the fajas that she uses in her weaving workshops. Her specifications are exacting and her orders have proven to be a great teaching and learning tool for helping the weavers weave to specifications, which is a requirement for selling to a foreign market. Unfortunately there is no national market for the traditional textiles.

Susan Weltman, a WARP friend, took up the gauntlet to sell the yoga mat straps and she will be picking up her order in Independencia next month. Doña Verna who recently resettled in Huancarani said she´d forgotten how to weave after living in the city for 7 years. The orders motivated her to sit down at her loom and she´s working on her 4th yoga mat strap. Fifteen year old Dania who was taught to weave by her grandmother during the vacation has sold 4 and plans to finish 2 more before school

CdA Dye Day Results

CdA Dye Day Results

starts. Hopefully, she will encourage her peers to learn to weave. It´s a wonderful thing to see the weavers so lively and animated when they stop by the PAZA workshop on Sundays to drop off their orders, pick up payments and discover there is another order. This is the time of year mothers are in panic mode trying to figure out where the cash will come from to pay for school supplies and uniforms.

Scooping up Chicha Vinegar for the Dye Pots

Scooping up Chicha Vinegar for the Dye Pots

Two CdA days were spent dyeing skeins because of the request for cochineal red. A few weavers had left skeins to be dyed and others asked to buy dyed skeins from PAZA. Citric acid was used with the cochineal on the first dye day so that orange tones were achieved. Suyku leaves were ready for harvest and gathered for the first time in almost a year to produce green dye baths during the 2nd dye day. The mordant for the cochineal pot was alum with cream of tartar as an assistant to produce pinks. All that was added to the final dye bath was vinegar from chicha (fermented corn beverage) that had turned. Doña Antonia had a 55 gallon barrel of bubbling vinegar leftover from her daughter´s graduation party.

Although not much was happening in Independencia all month, PAZA had a productive month thanks to the orders from Laverne, Susan, Jenny, and Mary Ann. Thanks to Lyn Lucas, Dorothy Thursby-Stern, Susan Long and Laura Dutcher who are long term devoted supporters PAZA can continue to help the weavers help themselves. Dorinda Dutcher, January 25, 2016

Evolution of the Weavings

Textile Fair, Charahuaytu, 2007

Textile Fair, Charahuaytu, 2007

Weavings are an integral part of the farmer subsistence lifestyle. Their importance as to the identity of a woman as weaver is diminishing along with that lifestyle. Today girls spend their day in the classroom not walking the countryside hand spinning while pasturing the family’s flock of sheep. The fierce competition between teen girls to weave exquisite aguayos to debut for dancing in Carnaval no longer happens. Aguayos (the Andean backpack) are still widely used, but tend to be machine made and inexpensive to purchase. The break in the passing of the weaving tradition from one generation to the next widens with each passing year.

The Weavers' First Craft Fair, Cochabamba, 2007

The Weavers’ First Craft Fair, Cochabamba, 2007

PAZA evolved from a request from the weavers of Huancarani in 2007 for assistance to rescue natural dye techniques and market their weavings. They were intrigued to learn more about cochineal after a non-profit organization had presented a one day workshop in their community. PAZA was the name of the Peace Corps partnership grant I wrote to be able to contract trainers for our first natural dye workshops. Our first sales effort was a one day fair in 2007 in Cochabamba where we stacked the textiles on the ground for lack of a table. The weavings were crudely assembled chuspas (shoulder bags) in natural wool colors or woven from bright synthetic yarn and knitted chulos (Andean caps with ear flaps). The price tags carried whatever price the weaver had requested, which was around $7 for a ch’uspa (minimum 40 hours of labor to produce) and $3 for a chulo. Since 2011, pricing has been formula based and they approve that pricing annually.

2014 Weavings for Laverne Waddington's Weaving Workshops

2014 Weavings for Laverne Waddington’s Weaving Workshops

Years of improving natural dye techniques, listening to commentary from potential buyers at fairs, and the feedback from fair trade buyers have resulted in the evolution of the weavings. Although we still take a few ch’upsas to fairs, the majority of the products for sell are professionally assembled in Cochabamba to target an external market. The Huancarani weavers no longer weave on speculation, but weave to a specification for an order. Providing the weavers the security of a payment upon completion of an order is possible thanks to the ongoing support from Ruraq Maki and ClothRoads who sell the weavings through their online stores, Laverne Waddington who places an order annually for traditional weavings to use in her weaving workshops, and WARP members who purchase woven products at the annual WARP Marketplace.

Doña Máxima Searched Her Memory for Weaving the Bird Motifs

Doña Máxima Searched Her Memory for Weaving the Bird Motifs

Since 2011, PAZA has tried to debut 2 new test products at the annual WARP Conference (Burlingame, California, May 29-31, 2015). Our failures in new product design outrank the successes, but lessons learned aid future design attempts. The first new products were bags that paired the textiles with leather, and the results were spectacular. Unfortunately, the majority of the cost went to the leather workshop instead of the weaver. After PAZA invested in contracting a weaving instructor for our floor loom it was warped with bayeta spun yarn to weave wool cloth to back pillow covers. The yarn kept breaking which frustrated Doña Máxima and Doña Antonia who were doing the weaving. They never complained, but it took them 8 months to weave a short length of cloth. The results were poor due to the quality of the wool. Purchased bayeta had been dyed and used in the interim, but the majority of the pillow covers remain in inventory for lack of sales.

Doña Máxima´s Woven Bird Motifs

Doña Máxima´s Woven Bird Motifs

Amanda Smiles, founder of Ruraq Maki, has worked with volunteer designers in San Francisco the past few years and has brought patterns for test bags during her past 2 annual visits. Those bags can be viewed or ordered on the RM online store. Topics of conversation during her 2013 visit bounced between new product design and how to motivate pre-teens and teens to learn how to weave. Amanda hit upon the idea of a yoga mat strap after we lamented the lack in sales of guitar straps. The beauty of the guitar straps is that they require a variety of traditional woven figures and the labor is less time consuming but the price to the weaver is higher then what the market will bear for the larger weavings used to make the popular zippered bags. It is the weaving of the figures that is being lost. Rural women continue to weave functional items for the home, such as blankets (phullus), but they forgo weaving figures in order to weave quickly.

Hopefully the yoga mat straps will sell well and provide us with a product we can use to motivate the young to learn to weave, rescue woven figures that are disappearing, and encourage more rural weavers to improve their skills from functional to artistry. Dorinda Dutcher, October 6, 2014  

 

 

Zippered Bags, Photo Credit: Marissa Barnhard

Zippered Bags, Photo Credit: Marissa Barnhard

Yoga Mat Straps, Photo Credit: Ruraq Maki

Yoga Mat Straps, Photo Credit: Ruraq Maki