Monday, July 13, 2009

Saraguro Beadwork in Santa Fe

This is Zoila Alexandrina Chalán Lozano, a Saraguro woman from a beadwork cooperative in Educador. Although it was her first time at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, the Saraguros have attended before, thanks to the help of Ann Severine, a bead artist in Santa Fe who has sponsored them each year, helping with their applications and other intricacies of bringing the women here and hosting them once they get here.

This is the awesome booth of designs from the cooperative of , I think Ann said, about a dozen women. I noticed that both young women and older women were trying on the collars, each one finding just the perfect design for their wardrobe and personality.

Ann (above) is one of two beaders that I know of (there may be more, if so let me know and I'll link to them here) who do not just reverse engineer the Saraguro designs and techniques for their own benefit, but who contribute significantly to the Saraguro cooperatives. Ann teaches some of the Saraguro designs and patterns, and sends a portion of her income from that back to the Saraguro cooperatives.

Chris Prussing from Juneau, Alaska, sells her tutorials (last I checked there were about 15 of them!) of Saraguro designs on and donates half the money from sales directly back to the four Saraguro beading cooperatives.

(FYI, there are now patterns and designs available that mention "Saraguro" but they are only "inspired by" the designs and they don't use the traditional stitching. Not being fussy, I just mention this because the above designers have been to Ecuador and taken classes from the women, use their very unique stitching techniques, and donate directly back to the coops.)

Income from the Folk Art Market and donations from Chris and Ann (among others I'm sure) have had a significant impact on the Saraguro women's lives. They have literally built housing for their cooperative, maintain a healthy bank account which is used for micro-loans to themselves, so that they can get bulk pricing on beads and supplies, and of course derive an income for their families.

I might never get to Ecuador, but I was happy to meet Zoila and see how she and her coop partners are taking control of their craft, on an international scale.

P.S. If I got any info wrong in this post, it's all my fault, LOL! Ann shared a lot of info with me but I wasn't exactly taking notes. ;-)

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