» We’re very close to sending Maya Gods & Monsters to press, when we get a frantic message from our author, Carol Karasik: “Wait! A lot of those little designs around the edges are Aztec, not Maya! Not to mention that calendar wheel!” We do a hasty but thorough search for strictly Maya motifs, and find the last existing copy of Diseno e Iconografia Chiapas at an obscure bookseller who wants major dollars for it. We get author permission (thank you, Chip Morris) to use the motifs. Now all we have to do is redesign a lot of the book and still meet our press deadline. We do.
» We’re in the catacombs of 17th century San Francisco de Asis Convent in Cusco. The occasion is the launch of our new book, Secrets of Spinning, Weaving, and Knitting in the Peruvian Highlands. The room is filled with weavers from the villages, weavers from abroad. A quintet of young Quechua musicians (listen to them here) tunes up: violin, cello, Andean flutes, Western flutes. The acoustic quality of this ancient stone room is thrilling. And looking down over all, a depiction of the Last Supper, complete with main dish of roasted guinea pig. I take this as an omen.
» The opening hubbub of the Santa Fe Folk Art Market. Thousands of eager, happy people are jostling to see the best of the best in international artisanal goods. Peeking through the throng, I spot Malaithong Bounyaxi, who was our patient and intrepid interpreter when we visited Houaphon Province, Laos, in preparation for publishing Silk Weavers of Hill Tribe Laos. With her are Souksakone and Phout, two of the finest silk weavers on the planet. This is their first trip outside their homeland, and they look a bit dazed. It’s a long, long way to Xam Tai Village.
» Some 120 young Quechua weavers from the villages of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco crowd in shifts into a small room at Tinkuy 2017. They’re here to learn about book publishing. They’ve already taken hundreds of photos and written about their culture. Now what? They choose their favorites from among a few dozen select photos, with a preference for alpacas in a green pasture. They vote to have the book written in Spanish AND Quechua (oh, and English if we must), and confer diligently on an appropriate title. How about This Book Tells About Our Culture of the Past and Why We Should Preserve It For the Future? I love these kids.
» We’re in Window Rock, New Mexico, on a cold September morning. One of the finest of the older generation of Navajo weavers and her elderly husband have made a special trip into town so Joe Coca can photograph her with some of her rugs. He futzes around with his camera set-up, she looks pretty chilly, he does the chivalrous thing and approaches her with a Pendleton blanket to throw around her shoulders. Oops! Men don’t put blankets on other men’s wives! Horrified glances are exchanged among the Dine’. Joe obliviously lays the blanket over her. Whew! The motifs are upside down! It doesn’t count! We’re happy not to lose our photographer to tribal justice. It’s going to be a wonderful book.
» I’ve never been in an embassy before (except once to beg replacement of a stolen passport); the Afghan Embassy in Washington, D.C. is lovely. Elegant but not overdone. Just like the First Lady of Afghanistan, Mrs. Rula Ghani, who by sheer coincidence of timing has arrived to help us celebrate the launch of Embroidery Within Boundaries: Afghan Women Creating a Future. Interestingly, she is the first First Lady of her country to have ever made public appearances, yet she is poised and articulate. The handsome young ambassador speaks. Author Rangina Hamidi speaks. Co-author Mary Littrell speaks. Mrs. Ghani speaks. The messages are clear: Afghan women need a voice, and they need a livelihood. Our book, and Rangina’s Kandahar Treasure embroidery co-op, provide both.* It’s a more dignified party than our book launch celebrations often are, but so gratifying. Photos are taken, the guests depart, and we go around the corner to a local bar.
It seems that every day is a new adventure in this fascinating world of traditional textiles, traditional artisans, and old-school real-paper book publishing. We feel so fortunate to continue our work with our deeply committed authors, our photographer Joe Coca, our designers Michael Signorella, Susan Wasinger, and Anne Clarke, our coterie of copy editors and proofreaders; our sisters at ClothRoads who urge us on and help sell our books; and of course you, who read our stuff and tell your friends about it. May your 2018 be filled with stories and adventures of your own.
–Linda and Karen
*We were especially pleased to present Mrs. Ghani with a copy of the beautiful, hard-cover, embroidery-embellished Collector’s Edition of this book. If you collect very special textile books, you will want this one. It’s still available for $150.00 only at ClothRoads. This is a shameless promotion. When they’re gone, they’re gone.Δ