WARP

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

2016 WARP Conference

Everyone Benefits During Informal Gatherings

Everyone Benefits During Informal Gatherings

Nobody remains a stranger for long at a WARP Conference where new friendships take off like wildfire. All the laughter and joy was rejuvenating, although the to-do list from all the brainstorming sessions remains daunting.

Following a three and a half month absence from Independencia, it was wonderful to be able to reminisce with Kelsey Wiskirchen, Katie Simmons, and Susan Weltman who have all made the Andean trek to meet the weavers and to check out the PAZA activities first hand. Life wouldn’t be complete without checking in annually with the hardcore WARP members who attend each conference. A lot of work gets done,

It´s Always Worthwhile to Pay Close Attention to Philis´s Tales

It´s Always Worthwhile to Pay Close Attention to Philis´s Tales

but why can’t work always be as much fun as it is when Teena Jennings-Rentenaar Judy Newland, Jackie Abrams, Linda Temple, Deborah Brandon, Linda Ligon, Carol Pierce, Sara Lamb, Cathie Joslyn, and Adrienne Sloane are involved? The Conference closed with everybody on the edge of their chairs wondering what witty remarks, Cindy Lair, WARP President would come up with as she auctioned off folk art pieces at the fundraising Conference finale. One must always find an opportunity for sitting and chatting with Philis Alvic, who subtly weaves pearls of wisdom into very entertaining stories. Deborah Chandler couldn’t attend this year and was missed. Her mentoring since 2010 has been invaluable in PAZA’s progress. What would one have to pay a life coach for the suggestions and wisdom she so generously and graciously dispenses?

Doña Nilda Callañuapa and a CTTC weaver

Doña Nilda Callañuapa and a CTTC weaver

The annual WARP Conference tends to move around the country, although it’s moving out of country to Oaxaca Mexico next year. Thanks to the scheduling coinciding with IFAM this year the attendance was larger than usual. It had been a few years, so what fun to catch up with Edwina Bringle, Sam Brown, Tara Miller, Dale Fairbanks, Carol Ireland, Judy Krol, Karen Sprenger, and Susie Strauss. Personal thank yous on behalf of the Cloth Roads Team Warmis Phuskadoras were passed on to one of the original Spinzilla organizers, Liz Gipson, who helped with arrangements for the team the past 2 years. A quick verbal exchange with Marilyn Murphy, Cloth Roads cofounder and the team’s TNNA sponsor, set the ball rolling for the team’s participation this year.

Marilyn, Kelsey, and Jon at the Book Signing

Marilyn, Kelsey, and Jon at the Book Signing

A highlight at the Conference was witnessing the arrival of Marilyn Anderson´s new hardback book hot off the press from Guatemala. The book is a text compilation of fading handicrafts drawing on her decades of travel and research in Guatemala and illustrated with her woodcut prints. The books arrived just in time for the Sunday afternoon book signing. Marilyn´s husband, Jon, had joined her this year and hopefully he will attend future conferences.

Marilyn Tries on a Stylish Poncho at the CTTC Booth at IFAM

Marilyn Tries on a Stylish Poncho at the CTTC Booth at IFAM

WARP connections tend to have a ripple effect. It was through WARP that PAZA heard about and received support to attend the first Tinkuy International Weaving Conference in Cusco, Peru in 2010. The Tinkuy is hosted by the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales de Cusco (CTTC) and their Director and WARP member, Doña Nilda Calluñuapa. In 2010, Dorinda and Doña Maxima roomed with WARP member Laverne Waddington. Laverne has placed annual weaving orders ever since and her exacting specifications have been fundamental in the improvement of weaving quality over the years. This year a number of weavers who host Laverne´s U.S. weaving workshops placed orders as well, including Marilyn Romatka, founder of Taproot Folk Arts. The WARP Conference provided the opportunity for several brainstorming sessions between Marilyn and Dorinda that went beyond what email correspondence would have provided.

Thank you Kelsey, Jackie, and Katie For Your Years on the Board!

Thank you Kelsey, Jackie, and Katie For Your Years on the Board!

Nancy Meffe has been a WARP member and a PAZA supporter for years, and attended this year’s WARP Conference. She sells her own weavings through craft fairs and donates the proceeds doing business as “Weaving for Women of the World”. When I’m asked about what one can do to be involved with weavers in marginalized communities because moving to a remote mountain village isn’t practical I cite Nancy’s work as an excellent example of weavers helping weavers.

Thanks to the WARP Board and to Rita Chapman the WARP Administrator the Conference was incredibly fun and productive! Wouldn´t you benefit from a few days a year spent with kindred spirits who stand together in defiance of the gaping maw of global cultural homogenization? What are you waiting for? Join WARP! Dorinda Dutcher, July 20, 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

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

Ruraq Maki Visits Independencia

Amanda Working With the CdA Teens and Women

Amanda Working With the CdA Teens and Women

The Club de Artesanas (CdA) activity focus in September was learning new jewelry making techniques. Amanda Smiles, founder of Ruraq Maki, made her annual 4 day journey to Independencia from Ayacucho Peru where Ruraq Maki (RM) offers craft training workshops to incarcerated women in the Yanamilla Prison. It was her 4th year teaching wire jewelry making techniques and working with Doña Máxima as the local trainer. The 4 new chicas in the Club had looked forward to Amanda’s arrival with increasing anticipation. The earrings they´d not sold at the Harvest Fair last May were reviewed and praised by Amanda. She showed all the jewelry makers how to correct a few minor flaws in their workmanship.

Doña Máxima Modeling a Yoga Mat Strap

Doña Máxima Modeling a Yoga Mat Strap

Ruraq Maki has helped with the product design of the traditional weavings over the past 5 years. The yoga mat straps were Amanda´s idea during a brainstorming session in 2012. The yoga mat straps and zippered cosmetic bags began being assembled in-house last year thanks to the industrial sewing machine funded by Ruraq Maki. Additional training is needed to tackle the larger lined fashion bags. PAZA is searching for a Quechua speaking sewing instructor to teach a series of short intensive workshops in Independencia. PAZA needs help to get the yoga mat straps into the hands of yoga practitioners. The hope is that a climb in sales will allow PAZA to get the word out encouraging more weavers to weave and teens to learn to weave.

CdA Dye Day

CdA Dye Day

Doña Juana, the newest CdA member, was introduced to the magic of cochineal during a Club dye day. She´s already sold her first weaving, a yoga mat strap, to Ruraq Maki. She lacks natural dyed yarn for the weavings PAZA sells, so had handspun enough wool for 8 skeins to take advantage of PAZA´s upcoming dye days. A few of the Huancarani weavers had sent skeins to the CdA for dyeing. All requested an orange dye, which was easily done with the addition of citric acid to a cochineal dye bath.

Doña Juana admiring her cochineal dyed skeins

Doña Juana admiring her cochineal dyed skeins

The cochineal PAZA uses was purchased from Potosí Bolivia through PAZA´s natural dye trainer. He had the cochineal lab tested and the highland Potosí cochineal had a higher carminic acid percentage than the cochineal from Cochabamba (local). PAZA´s first purchase of cochineal in 2009 cost $14.50 a kilo, and luckily the 5 kilos purchased held out through the rise in pricing to $86.50 a kilo in 2010. When the next purchase was needed the price had dropped to $36 a kilo. Rumor had it the spike in pricing was due to the demand of the food and drug industry for an organic colorant. Perhaps the demand diminished when consumers discovered the organic colorant was a bug, or they may have found the distinctive odor off-putting.

Doñas Máxima and Beatris, Measuring Day in Sanipaya, 2014

Doñas Máxima and Beatris, Measuring Day in Sanipaya, 2014

Club member, Doña Beatris, who spends the majority of her time in her rural community of Sanipaya, was able to participate in the dye day. She sells weavings to PAZA regularly and is doing a great job in organizing the 8 spinners in Sanipaya who will be competing in the Spinzilla spinning competition. Six of the spinners are entering for the first time and will have a better understanding of the competition after spinning week. Doña Máxima will visit to measure the yardage of spun wool and resolve the lingering doubts of why it costs the spinners $2.15 each to participate. Please consider donating to support the Spinzilla Team Cloth Roads/Warmis Phuskadoras so the event doesn´t financially impact the other PAZA activities.

RM Tote Modeled by Adviana, the Weaver

RM Tote Modeled by Adviana, the Weaver

The soap making project began anew. The 3rd recipe for basic soap was made using a new recipe that includes cocoa butter and vegetable oil along with the rendered tallow that was the only fat used in previous batches. The cocoa butter was purchased in the U.S., although an effort will be made to find a Bolivian source since cocoa is harvested in the Amazon area of the country. Although coconut trees grow in Bolivia, coconut oil is outrageously expensive, so it´s possible there is no processing done in Bolivia. Such possibility, such poverty, ah, Bolivia….

Thanks to the ongoing support of WARP members Lyn, Susan, and Dorothy and new PAZA supporter Jeane PAZA can offer a variety of Club activities hoping that they will spark entrepreneurial interest for income generating activities for the teens and women. The weekly activities also allow for the continued documentation of an ancient culture in transition. Dorinda Dutcher, September 18, 2015

Catching up with the Club de Artesanas

Doña Antonia´s Crocheted Shawl

Doña Antonia´s Crocheted Shawl

Following is a quick summary of May and June. Doña Máxima held the Club de Artesanas meetings once a week at her house while I visitedtheU.S. Thanks to PAZA supporters the meetings were productive because the women were able to purchase yarn so they could work on crochet projects while chatting. Doña Antonia crocheted a shawl and began wearing it immediately to ward off the cold of the winter months of June and July. Coats are not part of the women´s wardrobe. They layer on acrylic sweaters and shawls.

View of Doña Màxima´s Loom

View of Doña Màxima´s Loom

Doña Máxima spent hours at her loom weaving the necessities for her husband´s regalia as mayor of Huancarani. When her hands weren´t otherwise occupied she had her pushka (drop spindle) in motion to ply the purchased yarn tightly in preparation for the next weaving. In early May, she warped her loom to weave half the aguayo with bright neon colored synthetic yarn, commenting that it made the natural dyed yarn seem dark and boring. The weaving had 4 columns of figures with 1 heddle string and 1 column of figures using the embedded double weave technique that uses 5 heddle strings and 4 weft threads. It was slow going and occupied most of her time for more than 2 weeks. Upon completion she warped her loom to weave the figureless poncho desiring the reward of making quick progress. She completed it in 4 days.

Focusing on the Embedded Double Weave Column

Focusing on the Embedded Double Weave Column

Upon finishing the poncho she immediately warped her loom again to weave the other half of the aguayo. Weeks later she used a decorative stich to sew the two halves together. The final step was a crocheted border.She’d planned on weaving a second aguayo for herself, but lacking time and energy it will be woven without the motifsonly possible using the embedded double weave technique. Her daughter Vilma had expressed a desire to learn the technique, but changed her mind after observing the painstaking process. The technique allows the weaver flexibility to experiment with figures, so weavings are often a motif mix of the ancient and the contemporary such as helicopters. Sadly, the skills to weave with thistechnique that has been used to create beautiful Andean weavings for eons will disappear as the ageing weavers pass away taking with them the skills they perfected as teens.

The Aguayo Still Needing the Crocheted Border

The Aguayo Still Needing the Crocheted Border

The mayor’s wife must also appear at celebrations and rituals properly attired. PAZA purchased material for Doña Máxima to sew a traditional wool pollera (skirt) and a blouse, to help make up for her wage being halved because the Club de Artesanas met only once instead of twice a week for 2 months. Both Don Julio and Doña Máxima will be in full regalía for Bolivia´s Independence Day celebration in Huancarani on August 6th, so photos will be included with the next blog posting.

Kelsey, Katie, Dorinda, Amanda at WARP Conference, 2015

Kelsey, Katie, Dorinda, Amanda at WARP Conference, 2015

The annual WARP Conference is always a highlight of the annual U.S. trip. Amanda Smiles, founder of Ruraq Maki, presented her ongoing design efforts to create woven products that will find a market. She has brought pattern ideas and samples for bags for the past 3 years to Independencia and came up with the idea for the yoga mat straps. At the Conference Amanda met WARP Board members Katie Simmons and Kelsey Wiskirchen who have visited Independencia as PAZA volunteers. Amanda purchased weavings to sell through Ruraq Maki’s sales venues. Katie and Kelsey kindly lugged home weavings to sell so that the PAZA weaving inventory in the U.S. didn´t have to go into storage until next year.

Warping a Weaving that will be a Ruraq Maki bag

Warping a Weaving that will be a Ruraq Maki bag

Marilyn Murphy of Thrums Publications and Cloth Roads was also at the Conference. Those organizations with Marilyn as the PAZA contact will again sponsor the Independencia Spinzilla team, the WarmisPhuskadoras (Spinning Women). Marilyn made purchases of Independencia weavings to sell through Cloth Roads. If you would like to purchase a weaving please contact one of the U.S. connections. Each sale motivates the weavers to keep weaving. The expenses for last year´s Spinzilla competition were $600, and this year´s competition is not as yet funded. Please consider supporting the team.

It was fun catching up with long time PAZA supporter Dorothy Thursby-Stern at the WARP Conference. Thanks to Dorothy and WARP member Lyn Lucas all the June and July PAZA activities were possible.Dorinda Dutcher, July 27, 2015