Southern Arizona is blessed with glorious weather right now; the days are in the low 80’s and the nights are cool. It’s perfect weather for outdoor art markets (and spring training too, I guess). The Southwest Indian Art Fair was held last Saturday and Sunday on the grounds of the Arizona State Museum in Tucson. The Museum is on the University of Arizona campus in a beautiful building which also houses the Gloria F. Ross Tapestry Center. The Center coordinates with several weavers to create an area where people can see demonstrations and gain a greater appreciation of the work that goes into Navajo textiles. This year, Martha Schultz, Lola Cody, Melissa Cody and Michael Ornelas were demonstrating and there was also a contingent from Tucson Handweaver’s and Spinner’s Guild on hand each day to help teach weaving and spinning to anyone interested.
Although I was busy demonstrating the hip spindle, I did take some pictures. I was very pleased with the picture of Martha Schultz at the right. She was working on a beautiful vegetally dyed rug and it was one of those unposed moments that happen now and then. I did crop out a pizza box that was in the background. Martha and her family members wove the rugs that you can see behind her.
Martha’s daughter Lola Cody and her granddaughter Melissa Cody were also demonstrating. Lola was working on a handspun and handcarded rug and Melissa was doing a Germantown piece that she’s given herself a year to finish. Melissa said that she enjoys her job as a museum curator in Santa Fe, but it does cut into her weaving time, which is limited to mostly weekends. You can see Melissa at left chatting with some visitors as she works on her rug. It may be a little hard to see in the picture, but Melissa is superimposing geometric patterns over traditional Germantown Eyedazzler patterns. She graciously answered at least 100 questions about how in the world she was keeping the pattern straight.
Lola had just started on her rug, but you can see the pattern emerging in the picture at the right. Her beautiful handspun yarns are in the basket to her left. I’m always glad to see weavers still spinning their yarns, and I hope that collectors will see the added value in pieces like this.
While everyone else was starting a piece, Michael Ornelas, the handsome and affable son of Barbara Jean Teller Ornelas was patiently finsihing a piece with a weft count of (now sit down if you aren’t already doing so) about 114. The yarn was literally as fine as sewing thread. The pattern was a simple and elegant chief blanket variant that promised to advertise any small error, but I certainly couldn’t see any. Michael worked all day and finally decided to complete the last couple of rows at home because his eyes were refusing to focus after six hours of meticulous work. That’s Michael working on the finishing at the left.
To get an idea of how fine Michael’s piece is, take a look at the picture at right. The yarn that looks super chunky is fine warp thread. I’m hoping that Michael brings the completed piece to the Heard Museum Indian Market this weekend. He’ll be there with his mother, aunt Lynda Teller Pete and sister Sierra.
Not demonstrating but also at the show were The Spider Rock Girls (mom Emily Malone and her daughters LaVera, Larissa, Laramie and Alyssa), Isabel and Mark Deschinny and the Laughing family. I didn’t get to visit with the Laughings, but I’ll try to amend that next week at the Heard. It’s getting a little late, so I’ll catch you up on the Spider Rock Girls and the Deschinny’s tomorrow morning, but I’ve got to include a picture from each of them. At left, you’ll see Isabel in her booth, and at right are LaVera and Laramie Blake with some of their Burntwater designs.