Cataloging & Using Traditional Designs

Marilyn MurphyBehind the Scenes, Indigenous Connections, Textile Traditions

The Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC) has long understood the importance of documenting weaving designs, techniques, and other textile traditions that were disappearing over time. One of the early goals was to create a simple design catalog as a physical archive documenting a woven example of each design and its name. In 2020, the CTTC completed the documenting of the designs from all ten communities, finishing it during Covid, which helped to maintain contact with the weavers. In 2021, the CTTC expanded the design catalog from a physical archive to a digital database, taking photos of all the designs and collecting histories from the weavers about each design. By the end of this year, all of the CTTC’s … Read More

A Long-Awaited Visit to Peru’s Weaving Communities

Marilyn MurphyBehind the Scenes, Indigenous Connections, Travel Tours

During a recent ATA board visit to weaving communities in Peru, the village of Mahuaypampa was our first stop. Of all our visits, this community was the hardest hit by illness and low morale over the past few years. But this day, we were warmly greeted by the weavers who showered us with rose petals, followed by an honorable request to be padrinos (godparents) of their weaving shelter (we were the first group they welcomed into their center). With hammer in hands, held jointly by at least five of us, we smashed a clay jar filled with chicha, a corn-based beverage, and entered the compound. Construction of their weaving shelter was still underway (a project begun in 2019 with the … Read More

Book Review: Life and Death in the Andes

Marilyn MurphyBook Reviews

Furry friends: 2018

All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.” -T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom From the moment of my reading this opening quote, Kim MacQuarrie had me riding along with him as he traveled up and down the vein of the Andes gathering well-researched historical and current facts. I was drawn into his stories about legendary figures—Pablo Escobar, Hiram Bingham, Che Guevara, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Abimael Guzmán, and Charles Darwin—and others we might consider … Read More

The Finishing Touch for Andean Textiles

Marilyn MurphyHow-To, Textile Traditions

It’s rare to see an Andean textile without an added border, whether an attached band, braid, or fringe, or an exquisite, embellished seam. So much care and attention go into the finishing details, that many weavers in the Andes look forward to these finishing touches. Finishing details are also very practical. Seams hold two handwoven cloths together for items such as ponchos, blankets, and mantas, while borders and fringes prevent edges from fraying. When borders, edges, and seams wear through, a weaver will carefully take them out and put in new ones, extending the life of the textile for many more years. Joins & Seams Since Andean textiles are woven on a backstrap loom, the width of the cloth is … Read More

Funding a Seed Bank

Marilyn MurphyUncategorized

In August, Andean Textile Arts received an unusual grant request from the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC)—to assist in funding a seed bank, a cooperative project between the ten CTTC weaving communities. While this request was not directly related to textiles, helping to ensure food security for the weavers was deemed well within our mission and we approved this funding.   At the very beginning of COVID, family members from the Highland villages who worked in Lima and others cities returned to their communities, thereby creating a lack of food. For example, a family of two increased to seven with the addition of a son, his wife, and three children. There soon wasn’t enough potatoes and no income to … Read More

Tips and Techniques for Hanging Textiles

Marilyn MurphyHow-To

“How do I hang this?” Without a doubt, this is one of the most frequently asked questions we hear. Displaying textiles on your walls allows you to be surrounded by exquisite artisan beauty at all times. But by the very nature of this art being constructed of fiber, there are inherent characteristics requiring specific ways to mount and display textiles in order to preserve them. So what are some of the considerations for displaying a textile? Do you want it framed on a background cloth, hung on a decorative hanger, or mounted so just the piece shows? Each of these requires a different preparation. A proper mount needs to account for any weakness in the cloth, be aesthetically compatible with … Read More

Volunteer Profile: Karen Sprenger

Marilyn MurphyMeet Our Volunteers

Textile tours of all kinds can make a weaver out of you. It certainly did for Andean Textile Arts (ATA) volunteer, Karen Sprenger. In the mid-80s, Karen dabbled with weaving rag rugs on an old two-harness floor loom (this type of loom is still widely used in many indigenous communities). However, a floor loom is anything but portable. So while traveling on a few textile-related tours to Central and South America, she became intrigued with the backstrap loom. The simplicity of the loom was certainly similar to her floor loom, but it’s portability was a draw and one came home with her. Not many U.S. weavers in her area of Kansas City were studying backstrap weaving in the years following … Read More

Young Weavers Spend a Day Celebrating Their Cultural Heritage

Marilyn MurphyUncategorized

Imagine an entire day where you could spin, weave, dance, sing, and play—all devoted to sharing your traditions and bonding with other communities. That’s exactly what 225 young weavers from the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC) did this past August. Last year, a few young leaders from each of CTTC’s ten weaving communities came together to plan their first official cultural gathering. The young weavers enthusiastically wanted this event and were ready to lead the charge. So why not? With the assistance of CTTC’s education department and funding from an Andean Textile Arts (ATA) grant, they made it happen. Their day started early as most traveled hours to the town of Pisac, the designated location for the event. … Read More

How ATA Supports the Revitalization of Textile Techniques

Marilyn MurphyUncategorized

Can you imagine recreating a textile technique of the Nazca people who lived on the southern coast of Peru from 100 BC to AD 200? I recently saw an example of this technique in a detailed border fragment at the Art Institute of Chicago exhibit “Super/Natural: Textiles of the Andes.” The stitch used to make the three-dimensional plant and animal forms (shown in the picture above) is a complex looping and cross-knit looping technique. There is an ATA link to this pre-Columbian technique. For the past two years, your donations have been supporting weavers at the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC) in revitalizing this cross-stitch looping. They have spent hundreds of hours bent over tiny needles, working with … Read More