I’ve been checking in with Thrums Books authors to see how they are living their lives in these turbulent times. With unwavering purpose, is what I learned. Read on.
HEART-FELT IN AFGHANISTAN
Mary Anne Wise, in addition to being a co-founder of Multicolores rug hooking cooperative in Guatemala and co-author of Rug Money: How a Group of Maya Women Changed Their Lives through Art and Innovation, has a magical (and I don’t use that term lightly) retail store in Maiden Rock, Wisconsin. Cultural Cloth is comprised of room after room of textiles from all over the world: India, Nepal, Morocco, Madagascar, Peru, the list and the rich collection go on and on. (It spills over into a website, too—culturalcloth.com. Check it out.)
One ongoing project Mary Anne and her business partner, Jody Slocum, have been supporting is the work of women who are making felted rugs in northern Afghanistan near the Turkmenistan border. This work has been fraught with interference from the Taliban and subject to stresses of the general geopolitical climate: threats, kidnappings, explosions, famine, coronavirus. Mary Anne and Jody work with Ghulam Ullah Muradi, a young doctor, who at considerable risk to himself takes food to the women’s village and brings out rugs for export when it’s possible. Mary Anne reports:
“I have been working on the designs for our 2021 rug order with Dr Ghulam’s felted rug makers, including rugs with the words “truth beauty love” written in Turkmeni. He asked them to make a sample—and a day later he sent me photos. They’ve laid out the design, black wool roving on top of felted natural white fleece, and now they are rolling up the layout to begin the felting process of adhering the black roving to the background.”
Cultural Cloth is accepting pre-orders for these durable, affordable, inspiring rugs at https://culturalcloth.com/peace-love-truth-afghanistan-felt-rugs. And if you would like to make a direct donation to Dr. Ghulam for his aid to the women, email Jody Slocum at firstname.lastname@example.org
But if you also just need a good read for these dark times, you really should get a copy of Rug Money. The women rug hookers who are profiled in it, and the innovative program that has brought them so much success, will give you a lift. You can order the book from Amazon.com, Bookshop.org or Schifferbooks.com.
MEANWHILE, IN GUATEMALA
Deborah Chandler and Tere Cordón, authors of Traditional Weavers of Guatemala: Their Stories, Their Lives, have been working hard to soften the impact of serial hurricanes, non-stop rain, and the ubiquitous coronavirus in villages in eastern Guatemala. If you’ve read their book (you should), you’ll remember the delicate picbil weaving, the calm demeanor of the weavers, and the lush landscapes of that side of the country. That was then.
More recently, after Guatemala became thoroughly locked down, Deborah was doing some serious weaving—overshot bedspreads and wall hangings, twill shawls. “I was slowly becoming agoraphobic,” she says, “happy to never leave the house, but it became evident that I needed to get used to the world again. So I did, and shortly thereafter a large section of Guatemala was hit by two major hurricanes, Eta and Iota, just two weeks apart.
“Staggering damage, tens of thousands of people losing everything as floods and mudslides inundated five departments (states). Thanks to generous friends in the US, we (Tere and I and members of her family) became relief workers overnight, first delivering food and hygiene supplies to half a dozen communities, then graduating to the bigger task of providing recovery supplies, so far to 112 families, with more planned for the months ahead. Our first round included shovels and hoes for mud removal, household items like pots and pans, plastic dishes, blankets, and balls for the kids, and because we delivered just before Christmas, a Magdalena, a traditional Christmas cake. People can see more pictures on my Facebook page if they want. Think endless mud, as it is still raining, not has hard, but just as wet.
“Because it is where we have contacts and help, we are working in the lowlands around Lake Izabal. There are people helping weavers specifically, for now with roofing materials and the like. In time several of us are planning to put together a fund just to help with looms and yarns, but that will come after people have homes to live in again. First things first.”
If you’d like to help with donations, you can write to Deborah at email@example.com and she will tell you how to send money to her US bank account, either via check or PayPal. You can be sure every penny of it will go directly where it’s needed.
To read the personal stories of Guatemalan weavers, along with great photography, you can order Traditional Weavers of Guatemala from amazon.com, bookshop.org, or schifferbooks.com. It’s all about connecting.
AND THIS JUST IN:
The Textile Society of America has just named Lynda Teller Pete to the position of Director of Equity and Inclusion. It’s a new board position, and we salute TSA for creating it and for naming this dynamic, wise citizen of the Navajo Nation to lead the new initiative.
Lynda is co-author, with her sister, Barbara Teller Ornelas, of two best-selling Thrums Books: Spider Woman’s Children and How to Weave a Navajo Rug: Lessons from Spider Woman. Both are filled with inspiration and insights that you won’t find elsewhere.