Annual registration for the Club de Artesanas (CdA) is in February after the women and teens settle back into Independencia following Carnaval. The CdA chicas lost teen trainer Abigail who now lives with a family in the city providing child care part time and attending high school. Jhesica who will turn 16 this year has begun her second year as a teen trainer and was thrilled to receive a wage increase. Each of the 3 teens from last year invited a younger friend to join and many bring young siblings so there is a lot of youthful exuberance on Saturdays.
The CdA women will miss Adviana who has been a devoted member since 2012. She and her family migrated to the city during the vacation. She entered the Club as a timid 17 year old mother and through the years she learned to weave and was completing orders regularly to earn income to care for her 3 little ones. It was mainly because of her that the waiting list was added so more spinners could enjoy Spinzilla Spinning Week in 2017. She begged to spin, but not being up to speed with the older women the wait list was implemented to accommodate and encourage her and 2 other young spinners. May her self confidence that grew through the years of CdA activities and with the support and friendship of the other Club women enable her to transition successfully to life in the city.
Club attendance was low in February because of women and teens spending much of the month in their rural communities. That allowed Surya, the visiting artist, to work one on one with Club members as well as with groups. Doña Máxima learned to embroider in primary school and on her first embroidered piece working with Surya she learned new stitches but her designs continued to be just outlines. On her second piece she made the leap to use newly learned stitches to fill in her designs and kept then kept stopping to admire and show off the results.
Surya taught two of the teens how to use the sewing machine, including using the instruction book as a resource when there is a question or problem. Nelva had finished a beaded embroidery piece under Suyra’s tutelage which she sewed into a bag. Veronica learned to sew by making a small shoulder bag with a button closure and a zippered pencil bag. The teens also learned about perspective in drawing and had fun with water colors. Suyra had brought all the supplies to teach screen printing and worked with the teens for 2 months ending with the final project of a printed t-shirt.
The weavers of Huancarani began dropping off skeins to be dyed as rainy season is dye season. The Club held a dye day to take care of the accumulating skeins from the Huancarani weavers. The dye pot of suyku leaves produced light and dark greens skeins. Fresh turmeric root had been purchased from a sidewalk vendor in Cochabamba in October, and although roots were beginning to sprout once mashed up one dye pot of vibrant orange skeins was produced. The turmeric pot was mixed into the fifth dye bath of cochineal to dye skeins a rich dark orange.
Surya taught a batik workshop to Vilma and Doña Maxima and they experimented on cotton cloth, silk scarves, and cotton t-shirts with varying degrees of success. The leftover dye pot of the turmeric and cochineal was almost exhausted so further experimentation will take place with stronger dye pots on the upcoming dye days.
Surya, is the second volunteer in 8 years to take advanced classes from Doña Maxima and complete a weaving on the loom. She is the first volunteer to weave the cloth, strap, and border to assemble a ch´upsita (small shoulder bag). It is surprising there are not more weavers who have visited to take classes with Doña Máxima to learn traditional Andean weaving techniques. Surya taught embroidery stitches and worked on her own pieces for an exhibition at the Kiosko Galería in Santa Cruz Bolivia beginning on March 15th. She cunningly incorporated an end piece of her weaving and used the thrums as embroidery threads, which was a tug of war with each one because of their rough texture. However, the results were stunning with the natural dyed wool blending together for a natural looking portrait.
The PAZA order that will be traveling to the U.S. the end of April is almost complete. It is a bit early to be without an order for the weavers, so any preorders for the woven cloth which are the fajas (70” x 5” bands, $38), weavings (63” x 9.5”, $68), zippered pouches ($16), zippered pouches with a wrist strap ($17), or yoga mat straps ($22/$23) will enable additional orders to be placed over the next 2 months. The sizing may seem odd, but the weavers work in centimeters not inches, well except for Doña Dionicia who at 86 years of age gets away with using hand spans instead of a measuring tape. The weavings that are 63” x 9.5” were sized to be cut up to make 6 zippered bags. If you need a different sized weaving for a project you may place a special order. Contact Dorinda at email@example.com for further information or to place an order. Dorinda Dutcher, February 27, 2018