Traveling Textile Stories Can Weave A Real Peace

Do you ever wonder why we textile folks love to travel the world in search of the chance to meet other textile makers and lovers? What can be accomplished by passing on the techniques of creating cloth and sharing stories with new artisans we meet? Travel offers a bridge to understanding culture through textiles and their place in our lives.

Much of my travel has focused on the cultural study of textiles, both ancient artifacts and contemporary cloth. One such trip to El Salvador stands out because I discovered the many layers of meaning that cloth can bring to a place where history, politics, and people are enveloped in the blue of indigo.

In 2007, after a long journey from Guatemala to El Salvador, members of Weave A Real Peace arrived at Hacienda San Juan Buena Vista and heard Grace Guirola’s personal story, one that spans generations and seemed destined for a bright blue future. Grace’s great grandparents produced and processed indigo in the distant past, but her family fled to the safety of the United States during the civil war in El Salvador, the land taken by cooperatives during the agrarian reform. Years later she was able to buy some of her family’s land from the cooperative, return to her beloved landscape and begin a long journey of restoring her ancestral home and building a life based on indigo and cloth.

We walked the ground where Grace had planted two varieties of indigo, shared stories over a meal and delightfully dyed yarn in her indigo vats after dark. It was a memorable experience that resulted in a small treasure trove of dyed items to carry home. But the indigo had penetrated more than cloth, it had created a memory to carry, one more woven story in my mind.

Indigo memories in cloth.

I have been fortunate to travel many places around the world and these international experiences have completely reshaped the way I think about our global environment. The exhilarating experience of being thrown into the unpredictable miasma of a world market—be it the plaka, the souk, or the plaza—will change a person. And everywhere in these world markets there are textiles, dye plants, and the stories and memories of women.

The textiles in our lives are so much more than beautiful objects, they contain the stories of our lives and the world. You are stitching a part of WARP’s story and each story reflects country, culture, ideas, ideals. Cloth, in all its various forms, is a powerful agent of change in many regions of our world – cloth can be transformative and reach across the widest gap.

So, what can we do? First, how about being a Textile Ambassador? Check into ClothRoads and sign up for their email list and you will be able to download a wonderful pdf on how to be a Traveling Textile Ambassador. Next, pack your bags and get ready to travel to Mexico and meet people who love cloth as much as you do. Let’s go find new friends and create new woven stories to share.

Get out – travel – join us – share your story on FB and Google Groups; together we can Weave A Real Peace

 

Good Reads and Resources for Oaxaca travelers…

Textile Fiestas of Mexico: A Traveler’s Guide to Celebrations, Markets and Smart Shopping, 2016, Sheri Brautigam. Fabulous book and just what you need for Oaxaca. Available at ClothRoads and ThrumsBooks.

Zapotec Weavers of Teotitlan, 1999, Andra Stanton. The culture, legacy and techniques of Zapotec weaving.

The Unbroken Thread: Conserving the Textile Traditions of Oaxaca, 1997, Kathryn Klein, ed. Conserving the textile collection at the Regional Museum of Oaxaca.

Artisans and Advocacy in the Global Market:Walking the Heart Path, 2015, Simonelli, O’Donnell and Nash, eds. The latest on working with artisan groups, including our own Christine Eber’s work in Chiapas. She will be bringing two women to the meeting in Oaxaca.

A Textile Guide to the Highlands of Chiapas, 2011, Walter Morris Jr., if you are going into Chiapas!

Maya Threads: A Woven History of Chiapas, 2015, Morris Jr. and Karasik, a history of the cultural textiles of the Maya of the Chiapas area.

Mayan Hands

Mayan Hands
9607 Dr. Perry Rd. Suite 114
Ijamsville, MD 21754

(518) 729-1900
info@mayanhands.org
www.mayanhands.org

Contact person: Anne Kelly

Wholesale Accounts Available

Mayan-Hands-logoThe mission of Mayan Hands, a nonprofit, fair-trade organization, is to empower Guatemalan Mayan women artisans in their quest to bring their families out of extreme poverty while maintaining the culture they cherish. The Mayan Hands artisan partners create high- quality handmade textile and artisan products that include scarves; handbags and other accessories; home décor such as table runners, placemats and napkins; pine-needle baskets; felted-wool animals; friendship bracelets; Judaica products; Christmas and other holiday gifts.


Marrakesh Express

Marrakesh Express
791 College Ave. #2
Haverford, PA 19041

(610) 649-7717
sdavis@uslink.net
www.marrakeshexpress.org

Contact person: Susan Schaefer Davis

Wholesale Accounts Available

Marrakesh-Express-logoGiving Moroccan women access to a world market by selling their weaving online, thereby retaining more profit as they bypass the middleman, is my focus. On my website, you can “meet” and buy directly from Moroccan weavers in the nonprofit section, Women Weavers OnLine. The rugs are handwoven wool and usually one- of-a-kind; some women can also weave to order. I lead cultural tours where we visit some of the weavers, as well as meet other Moroccans in their homes. When I am in Morocco in the spring, I can shop for a Moroccan rug in the style, colors, and size you would like.


Cultural Cloth

Cultural Cloth
W3560 State Rd. 35
Maiden Rock, WI 54750

(715) 607-1238
info@culturalcloth.com
www.culturalcloth.com

Contact Person: Mary Anne Wise

Wholesale Accounts Available

Cultural-Cloth-3Cultural Cloth collaborates primarily with women throughout the developing world to produce exquisite home textiles and personal accessories. Our colorful retail shop is filled with gorgeous textiles. The shop is a test kitchen where we cook up products that have a sustainable chain of production. Products that test well become eligible for wholesale production targeted to a select group of nationwide retailers. As lifelong textile artists, we understand the demands of our market and are available for consultation on product feedback, design, and development. We offer tours to Guatemala to "buddy up" with the Mayan women whom we’ve taught to hook rugs and successfully shepherded them through the International Folk Art Market application process.


Traditions Mexico Cultural Journeys

Tour Operator

Traditions Mexico Cultural Journeys
1117 Garfield #7
Ashland, Or 97520

(541) 646-0496
traditionsmexico@yahoo.com
www.traditionsmexico.com

Traditions-logo Traditions Mexico has been creating pioneering cultural tours focused on indigenous textiles and lifeways in southern Mexico since 1996. Our tours introduce you to the people and places of another land, another way, and another pace. We take you across the cultural gap by creating encounters around common interests such as weaving, pottery, or food creation. In this way, we share and participate, creating dynamic encounters and breaking down barriers. Our knowledgeable guides take travelers to places of rich, ancient, and little-known traditions to meet the last of the Mixtec shell dyers, Zapotec silk producers, backstrap weavers, and cotton spinners.

Tia Stephanie Tours – Cultural Journeys

Tour Operator

Tia Stephanie Tours, Cultural Journeys
1260 Patricia Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48103

(734) 769-7839
info@tiastephanietours.com
www.tiastephanietours.com

Contact person: Stephanie Schneiderman

Tia Stephanie-logoWe design and operate textile art and cultural journeys to Mexico, parts of Colombia, and Panama. Our tours focus on natural dyeing and ikat dye resist, and the weaving techniques woven on backstrap and pedal looms, such as brocade, gauze, and tapestry. We explore textiles and dress as ethnographic expression that forms an essential part of the cultural landscape of the country. Our tours explore the coast and isthmus of Oaxaca, La Chinantla, Oaxaca, the Sierra Norte and Valley of Tehuacan, Puebla, and the Maya highlands of Chiapas. We also offer a unique program on the Mexican Rebozo: Ikat Techniques and Traditions.


PUCHKA Peru

Designer, Tour Operator, Internships

PUCHKA Peru
Urb. Brisas de Santa Rosa Mz. I, Lt. 17III Etapa,
San Martin de Porres Lima 31, Peru

Canadian address:
2645 Mt Stephen Ave.
Victoria, BC V8T 3L5

51 (991) 368-938
giancarlo@puchkaperu.com or sasha@puchkaperu.com
puchkaperu.com

Contact person: Giancarlo Soldi or Sasha McInnes

PUCHKA-logoWe are a small service company built upon fair/ ethical-trade ideals. Our purpose is to share some of the extraordinary, fascinating, and magical history, sites, textiles, folk art, and traditions of Peru via tours: Twenty-two days in enchanting Peru with nine days of workshops visiting Lima, Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Cusco, Machu Picchu, and much more or twelve-day tour to Ayacucho/Huamanga to see the WARI/Huari archaeological sites; visit villages, markets, museums, and workshops of many textile/folk artists. Internships with Living National Treasure and master weaver Maximo Laura and other Indigenous Peruvian textile and folk artists available.


Joan Noble – Noble Journeys

Consultant, Tour Operator

Joan Noble/Noble Journeys
5435 E. Placita Del Mesquite
Tucson, AZ 85712

(800) 566-9228 or (520) 319-1929
joan@noblejourneys.com
www.noblejourneys.com

Contact person: Joan Noble

Noble Journeys logoWe offer creative, enlightening, and delicious journeys to Morocco, Peru, Italy, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Mongolia, and more. Meet artisans in their homes and villages, shop in local markets, and dine in private homes as well as local restaurants. Stay in charming small hotels typical of each locale. Great guides, excellent private transportation, unique activities thanks to longtime friendships with local people eager to welcome us and share their daily lives and culture. Hands-on workshops can be arranged and programs customized to your specific wishes. We specialize in working with small groups and individuals.