For the past few weeks I’ve been immersed in weaving traditions from all over the world. It started with a trip to the Folk Art Market in Santa Fe hosted by the International Folk Art Alliance. Hundreds of artisans from around the globe come to this event to represent their countries’ finest folk art traditions, sell their wares, take classes, and meet with other artisans. An overwhelming majority of the artisans work in fiber. Every culture has some kind of weaving tradition and they were on full display at the market.
From time to time I do projects for WARP (Weave A Real Peace). I first encountered WARP nearly twenty years ago when I was digging around for information on artisan cooperative structures as part of a project I was working on with the weavers of the Navajo nation.
WARP is a networking organization for those who support global artisans at a grassroots level. In 1992, spearheaded by Deborah Chandler of Learning to Weave fame, a group of weavers gathered at a Convergence. All of these individuals were working with or wanted to support artisans in other countries who were eeking out a living practicing their trade. The weavers at the meeting felt like they were always reinventing the wheel when they tried to offer assistance and wouldn’t it be great if they had a forum to share information? WARP was the answer to this challenge.
My current project is to take their old traveling slideshow and convert it to video, a process that has also immersed me in the global language of weaving. At the same time I’m sampling, sampling, sampling for the book and I find all these global traditions so inspiring. If you speak weaving you can go anywhere in the world and find friends.
P.S. Each year WARP holds an annual meeting in a different part of the country. I hear next year’s meeting will be held in Santa Fe in conjunction with Folk Art Market. Syne Mitchell of WeaveCast visited a meeting in 2009 and produced this podcast.