Monday, July 16, 2012

The people behind the scene: The basket weavers!

Tightly weaved Burundi Baskets

Have you ever wondered the faces behind these wonderful crafts? Well, I certainly have. Whenever I filed Iskashitaa product inventories and saw the tags that read "Antoinette" and "Tabia" I could not put a face on our crafters. The spectacular works they produced only made me more curious as to who they were. And last week, I finally had the amazing opportunity of not only seeing the crafters in action but also meeting them at Native Seeeds. 

The Youth Group was already there when I walked in and the students were listening to Sue and watching the basket weavers as they quietly but speedily weaved their baskets and mats.
The trio: Our amazing basket weavers from left to right -Zodi, Antoinette and Tabia.  Emily and I walked in and we shared our stories about Iskashitaa and some techniques of weaving. In the beginning, the students were not too excited to watch the basket weavers; however, when Antoinette motioned a couple of them to come up and try weaving, things got a little more interesting. 

The thing I learned from (attempting) to weave was that it is NOT easy! The crafters were able to push the needles through the date palms with ease but in reality, it is extremely difficult. (Not to mention the pain on your fingers from pulling and pushing the needles to get it on the other side)

One student weaves as Antoinette watches -ah, the apprentice and the master photo!

I personally loved the time with the crafters because they were so graceful, caring and kind. Antoinette and Tabia spoke little English but language was not stopping us from having fun because fun is universal. The basket weavers patted the students on the back whenever they struggled and guided them with their expert fingers through the maze of date palm weaving. One by one, students were more interested than ever before to try and every one of them got a turn to try weaving baskets and mats. We then moved on to gourd painting and released our artistic creativity to produce some interesting "gourd works". 

When the event was over, I did not want to leave. It was not long but I felt a good connection with Tabia, Antoinette and Zodi. I asked Sue to take a picture and left feeling happy yet sad. So I wrote a short blog titled Scent of the Women what I saw through the basket weavers that made me nostalgic about my family and especially my own grandmother. Overall, it was a beautiful, beautiful day.
This is a deceptive picture because it looks like I have the "Aha!" face but I  was so, so so bad at it. 

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