Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Jan 25th- Workshop with the Women Artisans in Chino Village

Raffia for the baskets
Prep is underway!
This is a natural dye being crushed

Peach Palm Fibers being processed

The colors of the palm fibers are beautiful and vibrant!

These is one of the beautiful handmade baskets with some of the seeds ("beads") the women use for ornamentation in the center.

These are the prettiest blow guns I have ever seen (not that I have really seen that many!).
Ben helped to grate the mishquipanga (sp.?) for natural dying of the palm fibers.

This is my teacher on this day, Rosa with some of her work. She was very patient with me even though I was terrible at stringing the seeds for my necklace.

This is the workshop in full swing!


Dolly Beaver was nice enought to organize a workshop, for the guests at the Tahuayo lodge, including Ben and I. We were able to observe the artisans in their craft, learn about the different materials they use to create their beautiful baskets, jewelry, etc. Here are my notes from our visit with Dorila (one of the artisans from Buena Vista) and a list of some of the natural, organic materials that they utilize in their work:

"The women artisans of the Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo are very skilled at the crafts. We had the opportunity to interview Dorila, a woman who was 38 years old and living in the village of Buena Vista with her children and husband, her parents lived nearby in the village. She told us her typical day was going to the farm to harvest, washing clothes, cleaning and during the rainy season weaving and carving items for the women’s art cooperative. She learned the basket weaving and other arts from a counsin who came to live wit her from the Yarapa river valley.

The material that most of the baskets, teapots and jewelry start from is the “Chumbila” palm. (Astrocaryium sp.) The ladies have begun planting these palms as a part of their farms instead of just wild harvesting which is somewhat more sustainable. They cut the shoot of the palm, and wait about 6 months before cutting again to encourage new growth. They use raffia as the basis for tying the baskets together and as the "twine" for the bracelets and necklaces. "

Besides the palm fiber base the coloring for the palms and decorative gourds are also plant based.

List of the plants with their uses and colorings:

1) Achiote/Annatto- “Lipstick Tree” Bixa orellna
Coloring is derived from the seeds inside the pods, turns a reddish orange color. There are also yellow and green achiote coloring.

2) Mishquipanga Renealmia brebiscaba
This is in the ginger family. The coloring is derived from the root, and it is a reddish purple (really stains!) color. You have to grate it prior to boiling.

3) Peach Palm Bactris gasipaes
This creates a green color which is derived from the peach palm leaf.

You have to boil the fibers from the plants with the palm fiber for up to 20 or 3 minutes, then soak for a few more minutes, and hang to dry to let the colors set. There is no mordant used in the dye process.

Seeds for decoration/ornamentations:

1) Oja De Boca/ The “Cow’s Eye”
The name comes from a quechua (or Ketchua not sure which one) word. It is a very large black/brown shiny seed.

2) Good Luck Beads
Ormosia arborea or macrocalyx
These beans are a shiny red color with some black. They are valuable mostly because they are more difficult to come by because they usually only grow in Terra Firme.

3) Gourds/Huigo Crescentia cujete
These gourds are used in making tea pots, containers and as the base for many of the baskets. You can carve them and smoke them to turn them different shades of black.

4) Rosary Beans Coix lacryma
These white shiny seeds have a natural hole or soft spot which makes them easier to string.

5) Watermelon Seeds- You know where these come from and what they look like!

6) Pashaco Enterolobium barnebianum
This is a legume.

7) Achira Canna indica
This seed is in the coca leaf family? I think I was pretty small and non-descript.

8) Marona Bambusa sp.
Similar to bamboo, can grow very large. The shoots are used in jewelry and baskets and can be dyed.

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