Behind the beautiful textiles of Mayamam Weavers is a group of artisans, and behind each artisan is a story. Understanding the stories behind the artisans adds depth and appreciation to their work. Over the years we have taken the opportunity in our blog to introduce you to many of the members of the cooperative. You may remember meeting Maria, Ana or Ascension. This month, we’d like you to say hello to Elda!
Elda joined the foot loom weavers a little over a year ago. While she may be newer to the weaving cooperative, she’s been a part of Grupo Cajolá for a fairly long time. Grupo Cajolá is the community-based organization that works to develop their town so there is no need for forced migration. Mayamam Weavers is one of the economic development projects that was started by Grupo Cajolá.
Over 15 years ago a friend of Elda’s told her about a project in the community with potential to lead to work. Until then she had been at home taking care of the house and her three children. She attended a meeting to learn more about it and decided to join the group. Together this group of women were trained to raise chickens and manage an egg farm business. Elda appreciated the financial stability it gave her. She was also amazed at how much she learned and how much she grew as a person while working there. She said she used to be afraid to talk to people she didn’t know and she never felt comfortable speaking in front of a group of people. Being a part of regular meetings helped her conquer her fear little by little.
During her time working for the egg farm, she held a position on the board of directors of Grupo Cajolá for 4 years. Elda was also able to send her two youngest children to the preschool (also part of Grupo Cajolá) while she worked.
Sadly, as the pandemic was coming to an end, the egg farm had to close down. The chickens became ill at the same time that the costs for feed and supplies were skyrocketing. Elda approached a friend at Mayamam Weavers to see if there was any work available. Excited to learn some new skills, Elda was trained to use the foot loom. First, she began learning the “plain weaves,” which include the stripes of the Mayamam Stripes Collection. From there, she graduated to scarves and windowpane shawls which use the “weave a little, leave a little” design. More recently she has mastered the Cuadritos, a more complex weave which she says is her favorite. Since the weave is more narrow on the loom, she enjoys “throwing” the shuttle quickly back and forth. (It is a bit more complicated, though, requiring two different wefts!)
For now Elda is comfortable in her new role and looking forward to mastering a new weave next.