Andean Braiding Peru Chile and Bolivia
In this special workshop, students can choose to learn to recreate some of the beautiful finger manipulated flat braids that were made on the south coast of Peru in Pre-Hispanic times or students can choose to make the beautiful braids used in slings. This workshop is about flexibility and, as much as possible, tailored to each student’s needs.
The many different patterns found on the south coast area of Peru at Paracas date from 1200 BCE. We are going recreate some of these beautiful braids with very simple equipment, consisting of two warping posts, bamboo knitting needles and your fingers! A warp of loops is prepared into which your fingers slip. By manipulating the loops the braider controls the tension on the thread and the pattern that is being made. Working with looped threads, creates an experience that puts the braider in direct touch with the threads. Once the braider has mastered the basic structures, a wealth of pattern can be developed as seen in Rodrick’s braided hangings.
As there is very little written about how to do this, students will work from handouts and will learn the secrets of how to “read” headband samples.
This quote from Anni Albers, On Designing 1937, illustrates the freedom that this method of working can give each individual:
‘Material, that is to say unformed or shaped matter, is the field where authority blocks independent experimentation less than on many other fields, and for this seems well fitted to become a training ground for invention and free speculation. It is here that even the shyest beginner can catch a glimpse of the exhilaration of creating, by being a creator while at the same time he is checked by irrevocable laws set by nature of the material, not by man’.
Rodrick has spent 40 years studying headband braids. For those not interested in creating wall hangings, these beautiful braids can be used to create unique purses and bags.
Terry has learned to make these braids from Rodrick despite preferring to make textiles on equipment. Making these braids with loops instead of loose ends has made the process much more enjoyable and she now enjoys the slower more thoughtful pace. Terry has also translated several headband designs for braiding on the takadai.
Sling braids are becoming more popular with the availability of equipment and books explaining the making process. Traditionally made in the hand, Rodrick and Terry have written two books on making these braids, from simple to complex, on a braiding card or on a marudai with weighted bobbins. Once students have mastered the basic 24-strand Andean square braid, they can learn to use a core frame for creating a wider variety of patterns as colors are swapped between the core and the braid. Sling braids can be used for a wide variety of applications from purse handles, dog leads, garment trims, to elegant jewelry. You will use one of these books (available in the supply shop) as your text.