Laverne Waddington

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

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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