Weave a Real Peace (WARP) held its annual gathering in Washington D.C. last week. It was terrific. For the uninitiated, WARP is a networking group of crafters, academics, entrepreneurs, and anyone (including book publishers!) who value the importance of textiles in communities around the world. The annual meeting is an important time to connect with old friends, catch up on the work of a wide array of artisan groups, and to learn what’s new.
This year’s program featured a variety of speakers who shared with us just a fraction of the meaningful work they’re doing. For example, Laura Lemunyete has worked for over twenty years with a basket weaving cooperative in Kenya; Lebanese artist Yasmine Dabbous, spoke of her personal journey on the way to creating Kinship Stories, her jewelry line fusing tribal art and cultural stories. And there were demonstrations of Ghanian kente cloth weaving and cotton spinning from Khadi Oaxaca, and more. And there was a marketplace filled with glorious textiles, including handwoven Lao silk from Maren Beck, co author of Silk Weavers of Hill Tribe Laos: Textile, Tradition, and Well-Being.
One of my favorite aspects of WARP is being able to spend time with Thrums authors. One evening we enjoyed a bubbly toast and some shenanigans in celebration of author Deborah Chandler’s newest book, A Textile Traveler’s Guide to Guatemala. We included our friend Deborah Brandon in the party and her terrific new book Threads around the World. Amidst participating in all the activities, author Susan Schaefer Davis managed to find time to sign copies of her book Women Artisans of Morocco and tell tales from her recent journeys in Morocco.
D.C. is a great place to have a conference for a bunch of fiber junkies if for no other reason than all those museums! Many of us wandered off on our own to see various textile exhibitions around town, but we all began our adventures together at the George Washington University Textile Museum. Here Curator of East Asian Textiles Lee Talbot and Professor of Art History Cristin McKnight invited us to bring items from our personal collections to the most amazing sort of show and tell. Whether it was folded piecework from China or a skirt from the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh, they generously shared their knowledge—as did our super smart WARP crowd.
There’s so much more that happened over the weekend as we all formed connections, made new friends, learned more skills, and found inspiration.
The final session of the meeting was a panel featuring four representatives from various artisan groups, including Brenda Rosenbaum, the founder of the venerable Mayan Hands. Brenda ended her remarks with this poem by contemporary Maya poet Gaspar Pedro Gonzalez. It captures beautifully what WARP is all about—feeding dreams and hopes and connecting all we create with the tree of life. Brenda kindly shared the poem with me, so I could share it with you. Enjoy!
To weave is . . .
to be a maker, a modeler
to bring the invisible to light
to trap dreams and hopes in a web of threads
Is to practice magic by catching images
in the jungle of memory.
To weave is
to continue creating the world with the fingers of one’s hands
through tiny vertical and horizontal paths that are etched into the umbilical cord
tied to the tree of life.
Learn more about WARP and discover the benefits of being a member. Maybe we’ll see you at next year’s gathering in Montana.