Last week we returned from the yearly “pilgrimage” to the Santa Fe Folk Art Market. This year’s market felt especially fresh, mostly attributable to a third of the artisans being first-timers which meant new textile treats and new friends. Imagine these new artisans being in the U.S. for the first time and having 22,000 people visit them in just twenty-one hours to honor their handmade and timeless cultural traditions.
Long-time Textile Friends Our long-time friends and weavers from the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco were represented by director Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez and Gregoria Huaman. Everywhere Gregoria went, she found a place to secure one of her many weavings (backstrap, belt, or braids.) All it took was a stable upright and her body. Talk about mobility. We brought a pile of books authored by Nilda and published by our sister company, Thrums Books–Faces of Tradition and Weaving in the Peruvian Highlands–but it wasn’t enough. They sold out in one day. We had a good catching up with Jo Smith from the social enterprise of Ock Pop Tok about their new products we were eagerly awaiting back home. (The Market is focused on traditional-based products so the weavings OPT brings to Santa Fe can be quite different than what we carry in the ClothRoads store. Check the New Arrivals section in the store in a few weeks.) Plus we visited our other artisans: Guatemalan Amalia Gue of Ixbalem Ke, Indian bandhani artist Ajabbar Khatri, ikat master Rasuljon Mirzaahmedov from Uzbekistan, and a few others–all of whose work will be replenished in the store in coming weeks.
Always Learning My partner Linda Stark religiously carries a woven bag from the Bolivian Cooperative Cheque Oitedie (meaning the best weavers). It’s traveled to many parts of the world with her. So this year, she was especially pleased to learn about the significance of the patterns which belong to the seven clans of the Ayoreo society defining surnames. You’ll learn about them too in an upcoming interview with Ines Hinosaja, an ethnobotanist who has worked with these artisans for many years.
There’s Always One Textile This year we helped bring Herlina of the Indonesian cooperative “Koperasi Jasa Menenum Mandiri” to the market for their first time. The weavers of the Dayak Deas Tribe create traditional ikat textiles woven of naturally dyed cotton. And since I allow myself to buy one special textile, it had to be one of Herlina’s. You’ll get to see it soon, I promise. Also from this same area, we were able to meet the makers of the Anjat baskets I blogged about here. These rattan baskets have such a contemporary look that the notion of “timeless design” really holds true.
First-Timers I introduced you to Dahyalal Kudecha from the Kutch region of India in my blog Hand Weaving, A Common Language Between Cultures after meeting him during the weaving gathering in Peru. It was so gratifying to learn he had been accepted into the Market, but was even more so when we worked together during the Mentor-to-Market training program. (This is the training that all new FAM artisans go through before the market begins.) He told me that he had been very nervous the first day but now all the artisans felt like family.
We met many others over the course of a few days—some feeling like family in just a short time together. These artisans traveled thousands of miles, endured countless adversities, had little sleep, struggled with language barriers, but they smiled through the whole weekend. The impact of this experience in terms of the high appreciation of their heritage of making, and the income they derive from selling these high-end textiles sustains them for a period. But the top key to sustainability is the ongoing selling of their products. This is why ClothRoads exists, why we invite you into our shop to purchase these artisanal treasures, and why we need you to continue to spread the word. Share this on and ask your friends to do likewise. Plus you have the added benefit of meeting these artisans, learning about their communities and their traditions, and getting first peek at new arrivals in the ClothRoads shop–all through this blog.