May 10, 2018
As we've been traveling over the years, we've been amassing a textile collection. After each trip, I put them away in a box and sometimes don't look at them again until I'm adding to the box the next year. Our trip to Guatemala we came home with several beautiful pieces, and knew we had to figure out a way to live with them.
Our solution was to install a curtain rod high on a wall in our place as a a rotating display area. The first of each month we switch out what is hanging. This is also helping with another task on my to-do list, which is to catalog all the pieces we have.
For May we hung up two pieces that we bought in Peru in August 2015, on my 40th birthday. Both of these pieces were woven on backstrap looms in the small town of Misminay, the Sacred Valley. While on a tour of the area, we stopped in Misminay for a delicious lunch, and a demonstration of their textile techniques.
As the oldest woman in the group started her demonstration of weaving on a backstrap loom, I asked our guide to please tell her I was a weaver also. The woman immediately lit up and motioned for the younger women to let me help with their natural dye demonstration. I love that no matter where in the world we are, if we meet a weaver I feel an instant connection. A language barrier becomes less important, because we can speak weaving.
These two pieces that we hung this month are the pieces we bought following this demonstration. The larger piece is a table runner, and the smaller piece we bought as a scarf for David, but eneded up a bit too itchy for him. These pieces are both made with wool, natural dyes, and are woven with warp faced weave effects.
Feb 19, 2018
Our first full day in Guatemala, I experienced something very out of the ordinary. No, it wasn't walking down the street of a colonial city while a volcano was puffing out smoke in the distance. It wasn't peering into ruins of a church ruined by an earthquake and subsequently abandoned. It was answering our guide's question, "Why did you decide to come to Guatemala?" and answering "I'm a weaver." The strange part? He was not at all confused. He just answered, "Oh, nice, you'll enjoy all our textiles."
Saying "I'm a weaver" is something I don't actually do that often here at home, because most people are very confused. While many are often interested, it's a novelty. It is never taken as something normal and valued, not like in Guatemala. Throughout our 10 days there, I told a lot of people I was a weaver. And told a lot of weavers, "Soy una tejedora."
My job and career have pivoted over the years, and led me in directions I enjoy, but would never have anticipated. While I've been working on creative projects all along, I always felt like weaving was tied with industry and tied with a job and an income. It's taken me a while to release that.
These past two years I've been weaving a lot, dyeing with indigo, and engaging more with makers and artists. It's been liberating to explore, improve my skills and separate the making from a job. It's been satisfying to know that I don't regret my education just because I'm not working in the industry I trained for. In fact, I'm doing the best work I've ever done at my loom.
I'm a weaver, soy una tejedora.
Feb 19, 2018
When I used to make a sell travel journals at craft shows, people would always tell me how they never know what to write in a journal. I'd often hear that they sit down at the end of the day to write and fall asleep. Not at all surprising! If it feels like homework, it's not going to be enjoyable.
Travel journaling is never going to be successful if you're treating it like an assignment that you need to complete each day. Rather than thinking of your journal as a record of your itinerary, think of it as a series of snapshots of your trip. Print out your itinerary and tuck that into the journal to remember that you went here on Tuesday and there on Friday. Use the pages of your journal to write about what you're feeling about the trip, what senses are being awakened, and what ideas you're having in this brand place new.
If you save your journalling for the end of the day, you'll never remember all the small details. Instead have your journal on hand and write snippets throughout the day, little snapshots of what you're thinking and feeling. You can always go back and expand on some of those thoughts and experiences later when you have more time, but writing them down will press pause on that moment in time.
For those of you scared of the white page or not sure where to start, here are 5 of my favorite travel journal prompts to get the wheels turning.
Start each day with the same oberservation.
I love this exercise as a way of getting into the journalling mindset each day. Note the view out your window, or from your breakfast table. What's different? What's the same? What details shift a little each day?
What do you smell?
Sit in one place and smell your surroundings. Look around you, can you figure out where that smell is coming from? Is it different from anything you smell at home, the same? What memory does this smell conjure for you?
What do you hear?
Close your eyes and just listen. Where are those sounds coming from? How would you describe them? Are people talking? Listen for a snippet of conversation, and if you don't speak their language try to imagine what they're talking about by intonation and gestures. Are any of these sounds familiar to you?
Note the environment around you.
Is it cold, warm, humid, dry? Write down the time of day and weather. What is it about the physical environment at this moment that sets the season? How do you feel physically right now? Comfortable?
What boring details about ordinary life are different?
Go to a supermarket, pharmacy or post office and note how it's different from at home. What items are sold differently than they are at home? How do the prices compare? How is this experience different from home, and how is it surprisingly the same? Travel isn't always just about taking in the sites, it's also about seeing how other people live in a different country.
Sometimes all it takes in something quick to get you started, and words and sketches will start flowing. Like anything, it takes a while to get into a new habit. If you're not a daily journal keeper in your day to day life, pick up a little notebook and start writing before you leave home. Added bonus: you'll be looking at your regular routine and environment with new and fresh eyes.