Center for Traditional Textiles Launches New Online Store

Andean Textile ArtsUncategorized

This fall, the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC) opened an online store, bringing the weaving of Peru’s Sacred Valley direct to the world! For the first time, shoppers anywhere can browse CTTC products—from bags and backpacks to clothing, household textiles, toys, and jewelry—and order online. The new store is a significant step for the communities of CTTC and a great (if too tempting) opportunity for everyone who loves Andean textiles. Until now, the CTTC website displayed photos of some types of products and invited visitors to contact the center to arrange for purchase. Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez, CTTC director, knew that the website needed a full e-commerce capability, but a busy schedule of teaching, travel, and organizational development had … Read More

What’s Up in the Andes?

Andean Textile ArtsUncategorized

While the coronavirus has prevented us from hosting our tours to Peru and Bolivia this year, we’ve been keeping up on developments in the Sacred Valley with reports from Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez, director and founder of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC) and from our tour leader, Raul Callañaupa.  The pandemic has brought great hardship to the weaving communities, as it has everywhere. According to Nilda, the biggest problem has been a lack of food. Some households have doubled or tripled in size, as family members laid off from jobs in the cities and college students returned home to their villages. The families were not prepared with enough food for everyone, and without tourism and the income it … Read More

Week of the Women Who Spin with Drop Spindles

Dorinda DutcherUncategorized

Every October, childhood memories are rekindled in the Bolivian Andes during Spinning Week, a competition honoring a life-long skill. The spinners are the last generations of women born into the farmer subsistence lifestyle when the education of females was considered unnecessary. Doña Maxima Cortez remembers her youth in her rural community of Huancarani as idyllic. She knew where to herd the family flock to encounter her girlfriends, and they whiled away early adolescence shepherding, spinning, talking, and laughing.  In 2014, Doña Maxima was asked to query the weavers in Huancarani about participating in the international Spinzilla Spinning Week Competition. The response was enthusiastically affirmative. Spinzilla was organized by a group of volunteers under The National Needlearts Association (TNNA) umbrella to … 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

2020: A Tale of Two Communities

Andean Textile ArtsBehind the Scenes

To paraphase Charles Dickens, “It was the worst of times, it was the best of people.” This year has brought challenges that never figured into most of our worst-case scenarios.  Pandemic, lock-downs, and, for some, loss of contact, financial security, or loved ones. Yet, through it all, the ATA community has remained steadfast in its commitment to support Andean weavers in preserving their textile traditions and their sustainable way of life. And the Andean communities, in turn, have been brave and creative in helping themselves to weather this storm. Last spring, as the coronavirus took hold worldwide, tourism shut down and Peruvians were told to isolate at home. The quarantine cut off income for the weavers and sales that support the … Read More

Fundraising Auction A Huge Success!

Andean Textile ArtsBehind the Scenes

Special thanks to all of you who participated in our summer fundraising auction, A Bid for the Future, a benefit for the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC). By the time the auction closed on September 2, you and other ATA supporters had purchased sixty-three beautiful handmade Andean textiles, contributed to 270 phone cards, and with your additional donations helped us raise a total of $26,362. That’s more than 131% of our original $20,000 fundraising goal! Your purchases and donations are vital to the weaving communities around the Sacred Valley of Peru, now more than ever. In the last few weeks, we learned that the coronavirus epidemic has reached the mountain villages, and some communities are facing not only infection and loss … Read More

How to Safely Store (Most) Textiles

Christina GartonHow-To

Keeping your textiles on a shelf away from light and potential water damage isn’t enough when it comes to delicate antique or heirloom cloth. Sometimes improperly storing cloth can cause as much damage as improperly displaying it.  Roll, Don’t Fold The biggest mistake made with many heirloom/antique textiles—especially those brought out infrequently, such as extra-special table linens—is folding them before storing them. Any time you fold a piece of cloth, you’re creating places of weakness at the folds and especially at the corners. For modern pieces of cloth or those used regularly, folding isn’t a big deal, but for fabrics that are already brittle or that will be in storage long-term, folding causes damage to the cloth. Anyone who frequently … Read More

Donor Profile: Jean Cleavinger

Jannes GibsonMeet Our Donors

Spirited conversations with ATA donor Jean Cleavinger revealed that we both grew up in Iowa so it was hard not to spin off into tangential conversations. Jean’s father was director of the Iowa State Historical Museum in Des Moines from 1959-1980. Her mother worked at the Des Moines Register. As an only child, she spent time in her father’s taxidermist shop at the museum. He was well known for his work on birds; together her parents wrote the book Waterfowl in Iowa. Her mother’s father from Spirit Lake went on to be the doctor at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Jonas Poweshiek, a Mesquakie Indian from Tama, Iowa, who adopted her father, was like a grandfather to her. The … 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

Cultural Loss and Revitalization

Stefanie BerganiniIndigenous Connections

ATA’s mission statement is focused on helping the people of the Andes preserve and revitalize their textile traditions. What does that mean? Why do these traditions need preservation or revitalization? All cultures change over time. The fact that culture is not a fixed monolith is one of the most fundamental concepts in cultural anthropology. Instead, a group or society’s culture constantly evolves as group members experience and respond to the world around them. When cultures shift as a result of two different groups coming into contact, that sharing or blending is what anthropologists call “acculturation,” and it’s a process that’s been happening for about as long as there have been humans on this planet. In many cases, the process of … Read More