TEXT: TONIA MARIE HARRIS
Weaving in the Peruvian Andes tells the story of its people’s history, and Threads of Peru continues the tale with their 2016-2017 Quechua Collection.
“The process of both design and production has been moving for years now, the culmination of market analysis, our team immersion in the Andes, and ancient Quechua weaving techniques,” Dana Blair, Director of Operations, says. “From this corner of Peru, we believe we’ve been able to create something truly extraordinary, for both modern and traditional tastes, and a truly unique touch of Andean warmth for any home or wardrobe.”
A NFP social enterprise, Threads of Peru bases its model on collaboration and honoring the cultural traditions of the Peruvian people and their dynamic history. Empowering the weavers, mostly women, inspires the Quechua youth to embrace their cultural heritage. This and the demand for natural, handmade products draws interest to the old ways of tradition and skill. However, the company notes more education is needed to uncover all of the values and proficiency of previous generations.
The collaboration doesn’t end with unearthing the story and artisanship of the Peruvian people. The Quechua Collection continues this model in both design and process. In the spirit of weaving modern needs with a rich cultural heritage, designers meet with the weavers. The weavers then offer their expertise in color choice and design, which hold deep meaning to them.
Once the designs are agreed upon, yarn is dyed using natural and local resources such as plants and insects. After dyeing, the yarn is spun twice for resiliency during back-strap loom weaving. This method of weaving has long been a form of story for the Peruvian people. Their textiles proclaim their history, culture, and religion. The back-strap loom is the oldest known. It is non-mechanized and portable, made of wood, string, and bone. The weavers transport them in the carrying shawls traditional in their culture.
After this two-month process, orders are distributed. The weavers then stabilize their looms and begin warping. The warp controls the visible color and artistry of each piece. Warping is social affair, requiring two people to manage the intricacies of color and pallay. Artisans are given a month to complete their work in their own time, allowing for flexibility of schedule.
From design to finish, Threads of Peru conspires with its artisans to bring to the public this new collection. Each piece is all-natural and constructed with great attention to tradition and detail, connecting the consumers to the creators.
Of her experience with Threads of Peru, Blair says, “We are a family of one-hundred and fifty plus working together to make small changes that will not only change the lives of these incredibly talented men and women, but also to change the world through telling our story.”
Threads of Peru will be exhibiting the Quechua Collection at NY NOW Artisan Resource at the Jacob Javits Convention Center from January 31st to February 3rd, 2016. For more information, please visit www.threadsofperu.com.