Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sharing Traditions: Interviews from the 2013 Weavers Teaching Weavers

Last month, I was invited to attend and observe at the 2013 Weavers Teaching Weavers conference. There is something very special about Native American textile and basket weavers.  It was apparent at every turn when I walked into the longhouse at Northwest Indian College on the Lummi Reservation the week before last.   I especially love weavers because they are usually brilliant of mind, have a great sense of humor, and are meticulous when it comes to their work. It is fun to see how they break down the wefts and the warps for their eager pupils, some of whom are accomplished weavers in their own right.  
Puyallup textile weaver Misty Kalama at her loom
at 2013 Weavers Teaching Weavers
(Photo: Paul Niemi)

Weavers also have beautiful hearts.   Husband and wife textile weaving team of Misty Kalama of Puyallup and her husband Kendall Archer of Skokomish (the nephew of famed weaver Bruce Miller) have a gentleness and eagerness to teach people the art of Coast Salish weaving.   Over the two days, they taught people how to weave traditional regalia in smaller form to fit dolls.  Their students? Six year-olds to elders.  The adults were rewarded by feeling the satisfaction of completing a challenge and tapping into the spirituality that one feels during the weaving process  The youngsters...well, they received dolls upon finishing their pieces.  There is a fine line between getting kids to take on the past and moving traditions forward.  It is necessary to meet them half-way with toys.  After all, they have yet to arrive at a mature moment in time when they understand the importance of weaving traditions like a master does.
Puyallup weaver Sharon Reed shows
off one of her creations-in-progress
(Photo: Paul Niemi)

In the basket making realm of the Weavers Teaching Weavers conference, you never know who you are going to see.   This year was like the "Hollywood" of basket least for me.  I saw old friends, made new ones and came away with a better understanding of how they learned their art (which isn't an art at all, but a way of life!) and the time involved to bring such beautiful pieces to market.
(L to R) Haida basket weavers Diane Douglas-Willard,
Dolly Garza, and Lisa Telford with Paul Niemi
(Photo: Copyright 2013 Uncle Paulie's World)
This video features conversations with master weavers such as Lisa Telford (Haida), Bill James (Lummi), and Karen Reed (Puyallup) with wonderful photos of others.  Get to know the teachers of the 2013 Weavers Teaching Weavers HERE:

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