Peru, Oct. 21 2015

A full day today – the morning spent visiting Maximo Laura’s Ayacucho studio.
Maximo Laura (click on his name to learn more about this Peruvian textile master’s wonderful work)
A weaver at work – the warp threads (Peruvian cotton) are set up in Lima and brough to Ayacucho – each warp setup will make a number of tapestries. The detail from the painting (seen taped to the loom above the work in progress) is transferred using a marker to the warp threads – the weaver then refers to the painting for colour and texture information.

The underside of a tapestry shows the ends  of each new colour grouping as it gets tied on. The ends are trimmed after the tapestry is completed.

Maximo showing Sab how to develop texture in a tapestry using bundles of warp threads which are wrapped with weft threads. The tapestry advances for the most part one row at a time.

The alpaca weft is blended to create subtle shading throughout the weaving. The spools of fine two-ply yarn are laid out in a colour progression, then 6-10 threads are blended into small “butterfly” bundles – the colours used slowly changing to alter the tones of the bundles.

Maximo’s sister (whose name I didn’t get) is responsible for all the weft thread blending in the Ayacucho studio – she has a fine eye for colour and produces some very subtle shading.

While we were there one of the tapestries was finished:

A closeup showing detail:
A tapestry in progress seen from above.

All but one of the weavers in the Laura studios are men (there is one woman weaver in Lima) – that is because the weaving is traditionally done by men in Peru, the women dye the yarn, blend the weft and do other preparation and finishing work, but men do the weaving. 

A major purpose of the Laura studios is to train rural workers in the complex artistic processes of tapestry weaving. Maximo himself has been a weaver for 40 years. His goal is to develop skilled tapestry weavers for generations to come.

In the afternoon we visited Manta, a not for profit fair trade knitting enterprise to help rural and other low income women become gainfully employed.

There must have been 150 women, many in traditional garb, sitting and speedily knitting (alpaca shawls, scarves, sweaters, and hats)

I saw a new technique I will try when I get home – passing the yarn through the large pin changes the direction in which the yarn reaches the needles – keeps it from becoming tangled – a lot of the women were knitting in this way.
 

Mantis, a subsidiary of a larger social enterprise, provides day care and after school programs for the children of these women while they are working as knitters. There is also a program for at risk teens (victims of sexual abuse, teen pregnancy, family conflicts) which provides shelter and offers the girls life skills and work skills opportunities for up to two years – the goal is to give these young women a chance for economic independence.

Elaine with a few of the younger after school children.
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All in all a wonderful day.

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