Peru, Oct. 23 2015

We visited some very interesting master artisans today. First a master tinsmith Sr. Araujo. As with the other artisans we’ve visited, the Araujo workshop is a family enterprise – sons, daughters, brothers, grandchildren are all engaged in aspects of production. There are very few tinsmith in Peru so support for the work these artisans do is very limited. However, they’re hard working and enterprising.

Sr. Araujo showed how he crafts elements of his works from tin. He starts by tracing a template – traditionally, he would have used an awl (a pointed metal tool) but he was tracing with a permanent marker! How long had he been doing it that way? Maybe 18 months. What fascinated me were the many tiny improvisations that facilitate the production – the permanent marker being just one.

Our second visit was to the workshop of Alejandro Gallardo – a young talented weaver. This visit was an impromptu one – the other day while at the craft market, I got into a conversation with Alejandro’s mother – she speaking no English/me no Spanish we managed to communicate about my knitting and textile work and about her son’s tapestries. Maximo came over and greeted her warmly and took the information about the location of the family workshop. When another visit fell through this morning we made a stop at the Gallardo workshop.

Alejandro allowed us to take photos but asked that we not post them. I wish I could show you the beautiful, fine alpaca tapestries this family makes! Alejandro and his father (now 4 generations of weavers) are hard at work preserving pre-Incan motifs using all natural dyes in their work. They (and a couple of other family members) weave for many hours each day. Each tapestry more intricate than the next. Alejandro spent quite a bit of time walking us through the Wari images, which are his passion, based on textiles recovered from archeological sites. His tapestries draw on these elements. His father was working on an Incan-based weaving building the iconography from memory. With Maximo’s help, the elder Gallardo and I had a lovely conversation about his work as a weaver.

Our third stop after lunch was to Jesus Huarcaya Huamani’s tapestry/embroidery family workshop.

When we arrived the senior Sr. Huamani was working on an intricately braided rope, two of the women were doing embroidery, the third was spinning sheep’s wool using a drop spundle (creating a fine, even spun thread). Elsewhere in the workshop two other male family members were weaving tapestries.

The hand work of this family is beautifully executed. Below an embroidered hanging – the embroidery done with cotton thread:

An alpaca woven tapestry (the depth in this work achieved through weft thread colour alone):

We ended the visit by attempting to
spin ourselves using the drop spindle – it looks easy as the women do it but there is a lot of technique involved. My hands were useless.

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