Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"Women's Meeting"

 Women's Meeting
A Gift to the Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild from the Maseru Tapestries Cooperative in Lesotho

At the end of March, Guild member Linnie Trettin received this message from her husband Carl, who was working in Africa.
I went to the Maseru Weavers today, and they did have a "gift" for the Charleston Fiber Arts Guild. I'm sure the Guild will appreciate the recognition. It's entitled "Women's Meeting." One of the trainees did the piece, which I thought was quite an accomplishment.

Our Fiber Guild met Carl and Linnie when they came to a meeting last May and shared the story of the Maseru Weaving Cooperative and showed us samples of  tapestries made by a small group of women in the African country of Lesotho. Carl's work with the Department of Labor takes him to the area with some regularity. He had become a fan of the fine weavings produced by this small cooperative -- and he had become aware of the barriers they faced to increase their capacity to be able to operate on a more sustainable business model.

By American standards, a relatively small amount of money was needed to train additional weavers so the cooperative could fill more orders and serve more customers. Our Guild decided to help out.
 A member of the Maseru Tapestries Cooperative at work

When the women in Lesotho learned financial assistance was on the way, they immediately made arrangements for an instructor and began to recruit students. Women began to jockey for a place in the class as soon as they heard it would be offered. One woman was so eager to learn a skill through which she could earn an income that she came to the coop daily before the class ever started, and began to learn by watching the other members at their looms. Her initiative earned her a spot in the weaving class that started at the end of July.

Within six weeks, our Guild raised over $800 and contributed another $500 from our treasury -- a tiny bit more than was requested.

 First you make your plan, then you warp. . .

Our contributions helped this young woman take a 3-month tapestry weaving class to become a part of the Maseru Weaving Cooperative. The simple loom propped against the wall has the warp strung over nails at the top and bottom of a wooden face. The "cartoon" taped behind the warp gives the weaver her  pattern to follow.

 Here is her completed tapestry. 

New Weavers -- New Coop Members

These are the students who completed the training class and joined the Maseru Tapestries Cooperative. It is hard to believe these tapestries were made by "beginners."

As Carl's message to Linnie indicated, the students have made and sent us the beautiful hanging seen at the beginning of the post as a thank you gift. It has arrived and we cannot wait to show it off to you personally. You will be amazed at the fine work and the vibrant colors.

Since we do not have a permanent "home" where we can hang our tapestry, we will investigate the possibilities of a small scale "traveling exhibit" to various galley and display spaces in the Charleston area. Our connection with weavers across the world is a good story to share with the larger community.

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