A SURPRISING ENCOUNTER
I spent my Friday goof-off day and all weekend working on a slide presentation and then woke up on Monday morning to my boyfriend reading to me from the newspaper over breakfast about an Encuentro de Tejedores (gathering of weavers) that was going to happen right here in my home Santa Cruz.
Oh darn I thought with a sinking heart, I bet it’s on when I am due to be away in the US. So, when does it start? I asked, dreading what would surely be a disappointing response.
was the shocking reply. Maybe we just missed all the previous announcements. I really had no idea and so there was a mad rush to gather information and make sure that I could be a part of it. The conference is officially entitled…
ENCUENTRO DE PORTADORES DE TRADICION DEL UNIVERSO TEXTIL ANDINO Y DE TIERRAS BAJAS
(A meeting of the bearers of the traditions of the Andean and lowland textile universe)
which brought weavers, artisans, anthropologists and academics from Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina and other parts of Bolivia to my lowland home. Now this sounds like an enormous gathering but it wasn’t really. Only two to four people came from each place which has made it an extremely intimate experience with plenty of space and time to spend chatting with and getting to know people.
Only a handful of outsiders such as myself have attended which makes me feel even more privileged but at the same time alarmed and saddened although not totally surprised by the apparent lack of local interest in this event. Perhaps it wasn’t widely advertised in order to preserve this intimacy and make it more possible for the weavers themselves to interact more closely. Either way I feel extremely blessed to have been able to participate.
So, this means that this week’s blog post will be rather short as there are still two more evenings and one more day of conference to go. I will give you a few tidbits here to whet your appetite for a full report next week. I am still in the process of gathering information, facts, etc…and would hate to get anything wrong and I apologize if I have misspelled names.
I will tell you now that this whole event was organized by three wonderful Chilean ladies, the idea for which had its roots in an exhibit by Chilean artist Natasha Pons, which will run here for a month, called “Relatos Migratorios”. The Centro Cultural Simon I Patiño made it possible for people like me to experience all this for free. I still haven’t gotten over this fact!
The inauguration of the conference and exhibit took place on Tuesday. I went along and met up with my Guarani weaving teacher Angela. Walking up the stairs at the cultural center, my heart skipped a beat when I saw two ladies from Chinchero, Peru right behind me.
Last November after a little weaving class with Angela we had to part for some time as I was leaving for the Tinkuy de Tejedores in Peru and she was going to her home of Isoso to organize the weavers to make an enormous order of woven Christmas cards. I had told her about the exciting event in Cusco all the time wishing that I could have gotten my act together and taken her with me although I doubt that she would have gone with the extra responsibilty she was carrying at that time to fulfill the Christmas weaving orders.
So, here now was a little part of Peru coming to her instead! along with Colombia, Chile and Ecuador. And, on top of the beautiful pebble weave bag that she is carrying in the picture above, she brought one her wonderful works-in-progress in the Moisy technique to show to the highland weavers.
The program comprises three mornings of four-hour workshops along with audio-visual presentations and conferences in the evenings. The first day’s workshop was backstrap weaving which was offered by the ladies from Chinchero along with Celinda and daughter Isobel, Aymara weavers from the northern Chilean highlands.
Organizer Cristina introduced the workshop and put it very well when she explained that there are many roads that can lead to a single destination and many ways of achieving the same objective. The warping, set up and weaving techniques used by the Aymara and Quechua weavers teaching us here side by side have their differences but our goal, she explained, would be to learn to weave narrow bands, called jakimas in the Quechua language of Chnichero, and what the Chilean weavers call cintillos.
The artisans from Ecuador, Colombia and Oruro in Bolivia joined in enthusiastically as well as a small group of outsiders such as myself and staff from the cultural center. Most outsiders were non weavers and were terrified to beat hard and pull at the warps fearing they would break. The handspun wool was of course wonderfully resistant which was a good thing as there was the usual amount of beginner heddle-sawing going on.
I didn’t have to worry too much about missing out on Celinda and Isobel’s (the Chilean weavers) instruction on day one as today Angela and I got to spend a lot of time with Celinda as she wove. I found her very tranquil and lovely to watch. Daughter Isobel, on the other hand, is a live wire! You will see and hear more about her next week.
The technique that Celinda was demonstrating is a variation of the Moisy that Angela weaves except with three patterning colors which requires a fourth set of string heddles to manage. This does not create a double faced textile but there are no long floats on the back of the band either.
Angela noted that Celinda’s heddle order arrangement was quite different to hers and asked many questions. I could see her soaking it all up.
Finally she wasn’t asking questions but rather pointing things out to confirm that she did indeed understand. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her adding this to her repetoire and you can be sure that if she believes that any of Celinda’s ways are better she will adopt them. She is already using a stick for her lower set of heddles on her narrow bands after asking me to teach her how to make them on a stick – something she said she had always wanted to learn.
I can’t go without giving my thanks to my online weaving friend Kristina Krenzer who has worked hard to translate my e-book Andean Pebble Weave to German. It is now available on Patternfish. It looks so weird and, at the same time, so great in another language! Of course you can get the English version on Patternfish too.
Ich danke Kristina Krenzer für die Übersetzungsarbeit. Meine Monographie über die Stippenweb-Technik der Anden, auch bekannt als “Pebble Weave”, ist nun auch in deutscher Sprache bei Patternfish erhältlich .