PUCHKA Peru Textiles/Folk Art/Market Tours
by Aruna Reddy for The British Tapestry Group
Our first meeting with Maximo Laura was at his workshop in Lima where we privately viewed his collection of richly textured colourful tapestries. He talked about the imagery he used; birds, fishes, Andean iconography and more recently the female form and coca leaves, but most importantly his use of colour. For him colour is about light, contrast and emotion. We were given a demonstration of his colour blending technique and all invited to make a butterfly each to keep. We were then taken on a tour of his studio and saw all the hand-drawn cartoons scaled up to size. Then on to rooms where all his yarns are stored from the darkest dark to the lightest light and every colour, shade and tint in between; a feast for your eyes.
In his weaving workshop six weavers were busy on their looms. We witnessed the ‘cutting off’ of a tapestry, this caused lots of excitement, in Spanish! Finally, to his design room where he explained how his design process, iconography and sketches all combined to make the final image which is then coloured and scaled up. Then the technical aspects of weaving are considered which is now done using computer generated software.
The next day we were off to Arequipa for the real thing!
The day began at 8.00am with Maximo going through his colour blending theory, double warping and explaining that we had to work horizontally in a linear format on the loom incorporating texture, plain weave, outlining, and supplementary warp and wefts. Everything was prepared for us; the four-shaft floor looms were warped, marked up with a welt already woven. All the colours we would need were blended and made up into butter- flies with the colour cartoon as a guide, so we began weaving.
There were four of us in the group, two beginners working with Jimi, and us two experienced weavers working with Maximo and he started us off on our weaving journey. As we had our target of 6cm per day it was heads down and no interruptions. There was no time for chit-chat in the first four days as we were determined to meet our daily target! The joy of this experience was that we just got on with weaving.
On this trip we were aiming to complete one weaving over eight days, so after four days of weaving a long weekend break in the Colca Canyon was a refreshing change and we returned with renewed vigour feeling less daunted by the prospect of our 6cm daily target. By midday on 2nd Friday we had completed our weavings and celebrated with lunch, music and dancing. After which we had to hem the ends in preparation for the ‘show and tell’ display in the afternoon
It was such a pleasure to see all the beautiful work from the embroiderers, knitters, braiders and gourd carvers as well as our tapestries!