One more student finished her rug on Friday evening, bringing our total of finished pieces in our two October sessions to an incredible and record-breaking 10. We have never had more than one student in a class finish during the week, so when we had six people finish in our first one week session, we were floored. When four out of five pieces were finished in our second week, Jennie and I started wondering what was behind the trend.
First, I think we’ve gotten better at explaining what it takes to finish during the class. For students who have never used Navajo techniques before, this means keeping designs simple and regarding the first piece as a sampler. We try to do that without locking students into a rigid design so that they can draw on their own creativity. I think that another factor is the determination of the students themselves. Once they set their sights on finishing and can see that it’s possible, it seems to be a powerful incentive to make it happen. The third factor is the support that our students get from the Navajo community in Window Rock. We always have a wonderful group of visitors who encourage the students in every imaginable way, especially when they are finishing. “You can do it, you’re almost done”, they’ll say, and the politicians will joke with the students about getting them married off to a Navajo. A weaver in the family is still a valuable asset. As Stella Cly from Monument Valley would say “Now with the comb, you are not only batting a design together, you are also chasing away the evil spirits of poverty”. In the Navajo sense, poverty is not only a lack of money or material things; it is a lack of balance and harmony, and Jennie and I hope all of the students got at least a glimpse of that concept along with their weaving lessons!
Here’s a picture of Diana Frawley with her finished rug! This was Diana’s second foray into Navajo techniques and she did a great job. Her previous experience let her plan out her design and place the design elements where she wanted them.