While I love structure, color, texture, the mechanics of all kinds of looms, and pretty much everything else about weaving, what made my love affair grow from fling to lifetime commitment was what it does for people. Weaving is good for both body and soul, (though the body part needs to be handled carefully). And while it sounds far-fetched, in my experience people who weave are, as a rule, kind, generous, and in many other ways truly fine human beings. I like spending time with them, and I like what they contribute to the world. What’s more, I have found the same to be true in every culture with which I have come in contact. People who handle yarn or thread shine. And that is good for everyone.
On my first trip to Guatemala I met a man who was “born under a loom,” his father having been a weaver, as was his father, and his father before him. Weaving oozed out his pores. Just being near him felt different from anything I had ever experienced. I was in awe, and thought he must be unique in the world. If someone had told me then that in subsequent years I would come to know an entire race of people like that I would have thought you were talking about a story from Madeline L’Engle and some other universe. Now, almost a quarter of a century later, I have lived in that alternative universe long enough to get it. Three thousand years of weaving being an integral part of life makes it a part of one as much as blood and bones are.
My friend Teresa Cordón and I have spent the last three years listening to Guatemalan artisans who work with fiber. The fruit of our labor is now hot off the Thrums press: Traditional Weavers of Guatemala – Their Stories, Their Lives. With the breath-taking photography of Joe Coca to help tell those stories, we share with you the lives of twenty weavers, spinners, embroiderers, jaspe (ikat) tiers and weavers, a basket maker, and a looped bag maker. To put it in context we have interspersed the stories of the artisans with historical information going back to the time before time and contemporary views of the textiles themselves.
Now we want to continue the story telling – of artisans, of their textiles and tools, and more gifts of a weaver’s life in Guatemala. There will also be stories about other experiences of life here: situations of special needs kids, education and health care realities, why fair trade matters, the glories of this beautiful country and why you should come and visit – all that and whatever else strikes my – or your – fancy.
If any of that interests you, come on along.