Window Rock, Navajo Nation It’s been a whirlwind two weeks for Jennie Slick and me and a time that we will always remember. Last week, we were at the Handweaver’s Guild of America’s Convergence 2010 in Albuquerque, New Mexico where we taught several classes, visited with old friends and met many, many new ones. We were absolutely awed by the interest in Navajo textiles shown by the participants in our workshop and classes and by the people who stopped by our booth to watch as Jennie created a small weaving on a C-Cactusflower loom. We saw several people who have attended our Weaving in Beauty classes here in Window Rock and one of them, Arlene Anderson even brought her finished class rug to show us. You can see Arlene below with Jennie. Other alumni stopping by were Marsha Herr and Jean Walbridge.
Our Convergence experience included coordinating and teaming with Morris Muskett and Rose Dedman to teach a Navajo weaving class attended by a mind boggling 51 people. The class was divided into three groups led by Morris, Rose and Jennie. Volunteers Pat Thalhauser, Sarah Zapata and I circulated among all the groups to provide extra support for the students. Students used small looms made from heavy duty canvas stretcher bars and most took their looms with them. As instructors, we were challenged and thrilled by the response of the students, who warped their looms, started the weaving process and headed home with their work in progress and new insights into the world of Navajo weaving.
Convergence also featured an exciting Navajo rug auction with auctioneer Hank Blair of R.B. Burnham and Co. Native Auctions. There were 201 lots and about 75% of the items sold with competitive bidding. Weavers Nathan Harry and Gilbert Begay stopped by to watch their work being sold. Gilbert, an expert spinner, created yarn for a new weaving as one of his handspun bags found a home during the sale. Because the Burnham’s were doing another auction the same day, they were short a bid spotter in their auction team so they got a short bid spotter: me. It’s so much fun it shouldn’t even be legal.
The Convergence vendor hall was a wonderland of goodies for people like us, but we didn’t have very much time to take in the offerings. Jennie and I realized on our way back to Gallup that we’d forgotten to check out the comfort footwear booth and I never got a chance to get back to see weaving tool makers Al Snipes and Jim Hockett. So many people were going to C-Cactusflower loom maker Caroline Spurgeon’s booth after seeing Jennie weave that she stopped by with a nice gift for Jennie. Thanks, Caroline! Diné bé Iiná (Sheep is Life) had a beautiful booth featuring TahNiBaa Naataanii, Beverly Allen, Sarah Natani and other weavers and Marilou Schultz’s booth featured her incredible hand-dyed trading post yarns.
If you’re thinking that we had a good time in spite of doing a lot of work, you’re very perceptive. Would we do it again? Well, we might ask for one more day with those 51 students. We might have changed a few details of a couple of things, but we’re already talking about a couple of fiber festivals that we might do next year. After we catch up on our sleep and laundry.
We’re in the middle of two weeks of classes here in Window Rock, with one class leaving tomorrow and a our Camp Weave-A-Lot Advanced Seminar starting Monday. I’ll catch you up on last week’s class starting on Monday. I’ll leave with with a picture of Gilbert Begay, Hank Blair and Nathan Harry taken after the auction last Saturday night. Thank you HGA for the opportunity to participate in this year’s Convergence!
Hagoshíí (so long for now)