TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Package from Costa Rica

Costa Rican coffe:  a gift from Silvia of Galeria Octagono

Yesterday I got a nice package in the mail:  a gift from one of our TAFA members, Silvia of Galeria Octagono in Costa Rica.  (See her member profile on TAFA). 

coffee.  macadamia candy.  brochures.  ornaments made by her kids workshop.

Silvia joined a couple of months ago and has been a joy!  She participates actively in several of our forums and we share many common interests with Latin America, nature, and of course, how things are made.  As the SDA representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, Silvia has a broad range in her role as an artist, educator and member of the world textile community.

As I was thinking of her and where she lives, I thought I would check it out on Google Earth:

Sil had sent a marker, which made it easier:  "If you look up "Bosque de la Hoja, Heredia, Costa Rica" you'll get Galería Octágono campus. We're at the intersection: the road continues north to the Divide, and we're outside a huge fancy residencial development (Residencial Ave del Paraíso)."

They have a small B&B with a cabin and in my imagination, I am there, hiking around in the local hills and mountains.  Here is one of the photos from her husband's, Rick's, blog:

Paradise, eh?

From there, I killed a couple more hours looking at Google Earth.  I went to Kabul and ran away.  What an awful place!  Down to where I grew up in Brazil.  Now everyone in my old neighborhood has a swimming pool in their back yard!  Puh-leeze....  I don't want to hear any griping from my Brazilian friends about hard times!  Went and took a look at Chicago, came down to Paducah and then the bird got tired and went to bed.

Woke up this morning....  and yes...  I had a wonderful cup of that Costa Rican coffee.  Thought of Silvia again.  She had told me she was sending me a bag of coffee, but I had no idea it was going to be so big!  Looks like I will be thinking about her for weeks ahead!

The Musician, available at Galeria Octagono

Galeria Octagono is a lively place with many community programs and projects.  Silvia is now a radio celebrity, with a weekly program aimed at getting regular people to think about art, nature, and other topics.  It's all about education, meaningfulness, creating community, making life rich with color, texture and collaboration.  I think about how each of us has the potential to impact our local communities.  How we live in such faraway places, but in a click of the button, we can get a bird's eye view of our neighborhoods.  How we can never meet yet still be friends.  

Want to share a cup of coffee with Silvia?  I doubt she can send bags all over the world, but she is there, interacting with our online communities.  Visit her website, her blog, and if you can, go down and spend some time at their B&B.  And, I bet that if you have some craft supplies that need a new home, Galeria Octagono would be a good place to send them.  Buy their art, send donations, and make new friends.  It's a beautiful world and it warms my heart that Silvia is down there, doing her piece to make it so.

Thank you, Silvia!


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Black Elk's Prayer: Meditation for Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving 
here in the United States.

Top stories on BBC
News on this day of thanks:
Unrest, violence, and anger all over the world... 


Occupy Wall Street has spread to major cities around the United States.  As we hail on the Arab Spring, our leadership here cringes at our homegrown dissent of the status quo.  Arrests, pepper spray, beatings, evacuations... 

How do we make sense of it all?  
How do we give thanks?

Well, I know that the only way I can keep a smile on my face is to think small, to zoom into my own back yard and try to make my little world have a positive impact on what's around me.  The supposed domino effect... Everything we do has an impact on the world in some way:


Thanksgiving has become an annual tribute, for me, to the Native Americans who inhabited this land before we white people arrived.  Those first whites would have died if it had not been for the natives who showed them how to plant corn and survive the winter.

I planted a Native American variety of corn this year in my garden.  The stalks grew really, really tall and spindly.  Then, we had a big storm and they all fell over.  I read online that when there is too much clay in the soil, the roots can't take hold and it's a problem...  My uncle-the-farmer poo-poohed the idea of even trying a Native American variety of corn.  "Stay away from that and go with the hybrids that are tested and true."

 Hmmm.....  Maybe I want the challenge...  For sure, I would have been one of the white girls who would not have survived Thanksgiving in those early days...

I don't have Indians on a pedestal, glamorizing the past or seeing them as good while the whites were/are evil.  History happened as it did.  It is up to us to shape the future.  But, I do like the relationship that Natives had/have with the land and how God speaks to us through it.  So, on Thanksgiving, I find one story and think about that for the day.  

On this day, I will be thinking about Black Elk and John Neihardt.  Here is a little ditty about this video:

John Neihardt reciting Black Elk's Prayer. Neihardt wrote the prayer shortly after the 1931 historic talks he had with Black Elk at Pine Ridge Reservation. He was able to capture in poetic form what the great Sioux holy man was relating to
him in Lakota conversation. In 1971 Neihardt recorded his recitation of the prayer. Thirty five years later, grandson Robin composed the music and combined it digitally with John Neihardt's recording. The old photos in the video clip were taken by John Neihardt and his daughter Hilda during the 1931 meetings.

Black Elk's words resonate through time.  But, even more beautiful to me is the legacy that both he and Neihardt left for the future, collaborating together to create peace and understanding, a bridge between cultures.

May we all build our own bridges as we move ahead in history, knocking down one domino at a time.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Black Elk and Neihardt at the Sioux 
Victory celebration at Pine Ridge in September 1945.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cool stocking stuffers from Rayela Art

The small gift can sometimes be the most memorable....  Diamonds might be some girls' best friends, but there are others of us who like something a little more rustic,   something that comes from far away and has a story..............  

May I suggest my shop on Etsy as a source for such mementos?  If the Christmas stocking is still a tradition in your home, you might find just the perfect small stuff over at Rayela Art!  Click on the captions of the following suggestions and it will take you to the item's listing:

Senufo pendant, woman kneeling, lost wax pendant, $42.

Whistle stamps from India, $12.50

Fabric for that quilter you know.

Set of stereograph cards, $18.

Definitely not your run-of-the-mill stocking stuffers!  The shop is stocked so look around.  You will definitely find something really cool for that special person.  

AND..............  there is a sale going on through Thanksgiving Day, November 24th.  

25% off of 
everything in the shop!

Use this coupon code when you check out:

(You must use the code to get the discount.  Etsy will automatically figure out the discount after you enter the code.)

For those of you here in the US, have a happy Thanksgiving Day!


Isabel Allende's message to women: Be passionate and change the world!

Isabel Allende

I have loved Isabel Allende's books over the years.  Blending that special Latin magical realism with history, both real and imagined, her stories capture the passion possible through characters that mirror our world.

She was a guest speaker for a TED conference.  These 18 minutes will make you laugh and will inspire you towards the change that most of us are wishing for our world:  justice, freedom and kindness.  This was filmed in 2007 but is more than relevant for today.

See her books and learn more about Isabel Allende on her website.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

25% Off on Rayela's Biodegradable Art !

Recycled Dog Food Bag by Rayela Art

Rachel Biel, 1989
Many years ago I used to work with clay.  I loved it!  I did it for about four years and my skill level was just at the point where some serious work was beginning to happen.  Mostly, I made bowls and boxes to sell at art fairs and shops, but I was getting into big, sculptural work.

We had a community of clay artists who remain as some of my favorite people to this day.  I saw Roberta and Maryanne when I was in Chicago a couple of months ago:

Patte, Kate and Andi at the back, Maryanne and Roberta in front.   Chicago clay artists in the late 1980's.

We made many wonderful things and then there were those awful ones, best used smashed as fillers for the bottoms of flower pots.  I used to imagine our work being excavated a couple hundreds of years from now...  remnants of a lost civilization.  What would the future archaeologists think of us?

Art festival in Chicago, 1995
By the mid 90's, I had moved on to fiber, hooked forever.  Clay had become impractical and I wanted something that I could work on at home.  Almost everything that I make now would rot away if it was buried.  From dust to dust.  That really appeals to me!

"Garden Greens" by Rayela Art,  $370

So, I sew, embroider and fold paper, salvaged from my dog's food bags.  That is, theoretically, I do.  I haven't made much since I launched TAFA almost two years ago, but my hope is that I will have more time once our new site is launched.  I have lots of ideas in my head that are begging to come out, all biodegradable!

Prairie Point Centerpiece, "Golden Flower" by Rayela Art, $150

I have several pillows, a couple of hats, dogfood bags, pillows and some other things I've made in my Etsy shop:  Rayela on Etsy.  I moved everything I made into that link to make it easy to find.  You will see that I love texture and little pieces of things brought together to make something bigger...  I try to use recycled supplies that might have ended up in the dump.  And, I like interesting fabrics, a distressed look...  earthiness.  Appropriate, eh?

Reversible Hat, "Geisha's Garden", Rayela Art, $42

Look at the rest of the shop, too.  I sell mostly ethnic textiles and vintage supplies.  Everything is on sale through Thanksgiving Day, November 24th.

Coupon Code:  You MUST enter this code at check out to get the discount:  NOVEMBERSALE.

Rachel Biel working with clay, 1989

How about you?  Do you think of how your carbon footprint will impact the future?


Friday, November 11, 2011

Ralli Quilts on Sale: 25% Off!

Dimensions: 82" long x 59" wide
Metric: 208.5 x 150 cm

Ralli #95, $140  (discounted to $105)

I have posted quite a bit about ralli quilts in this blog.  If you would like to learn more about them, click here to see the past posts.  Made in villages throughout India and Pakistan, ralli quilts have been a big favorite of mine and I buy them when I can.  Mothers have handed the designs down to their daughters for generations and finishing off a ralli is a communal event, much like our historical quilting bees.  Women sit around the unfinished piece, stitching the long rows that will hold it together.  I love the uneven squares, the sometimes odd choices of fabric, and the multi-functional role these pieces have served:  bed quilt, wall hanging and even as a door in the village huts...

I have five rallis left in my Etsy shop.  You can see all of them on this page:  click!  Two are simple whole cloth quilts, priced at $60 and $75.  The discount would bring them down to $45 and $56.25.  The one shown at the top of this post is the biggest one, in very good, usable condition.

This one is my favorite and the most expensive one I have ever carried:

Dimensions: 62" long x 43" wide
Metric: 157.5 x 109 cm

Ralli #93, $350  (discounted to $262.50)

Small and fragile, this ralli would have to be used as a wall hanging or as a decorative throw such as on a guest bed.  It would only cover the foot or middle of a bed.  The applique and color choices are lovely!

Another favorite is this wonky checkered ralli:

Dimensions: 78" long x 50" wide
Metric: 198 x 127 cm

Ralli #94, $135  (discounted to $101.25)

Yes, it is narrower at the bottom...  The quilt does not hang well, but it looks great thrown on to a couch or bed.  What I like best about it is the feel of the fabric.  I can't figure out what it is and assume it's some kind of polyester, but it is soft and worn and feels like silk.  Maybe an acetate?  Normally, I despise polyester, but whatever this is, it is cool, soft and pleasing to touch.

These are your five ralli choices!  All 25% off through November 24th.  I normally give free shipping on orders over $100 but will not be able to do that during the sale.  When you are through shopping, type in NOVEMBERSALE as your coupon code and Etsy will add the 25% discount to anything that is in my shop.

Wrap yourself in a ralli! 


Thursday, November 10, 2011

African Textiles on Sale

Vintage Kuba Hat on Rayela Art

I have a 25% off sale going on in my Etsy shop through Thanksgiving.  I've always loved African textiles and try to carry some in my shop on a regular basis.  For some reason, they seem to sit on Etsy...  Hopefully, this sale will help some gorgeous pieces find a new home.

The Kuba hat above has been a favorite by viewers, ending up in many treasuries in the past year.  Truly a gorgeous piece, it is probably from around the 1950's.  It comes from the Congo, an area in Africa rich in natural resources but enmeshed in terrible conflicts right now.  Overpopulation and ethnic clashes are threatening nature reserves, the most controversial being forested areas and corridors used by gorillas.  

The hat would have been worn perched on top of the head, held in place with a long hat pin.  I don't have any of the pins.  Priced at $180, the 25% discount brings it down to $135.

Kuba Cloths

I have 7 Kuba cloths currently listed:  Click!  I used to sell Kubas on eBay quite easily, but closed my shop there a couple of years ago.  They have not been a hit on Etsy.  I love them and have a couple in my own house.  Woven from raffia palms in a technique very similar to carpet weaving, they are pliable, soft and make great mats or can be framed and hung on the wall.  I have also seen pillows made out of them.  Picasso and other artists in the 1950's were greatly influenced by the geometric patterns found in Kuba cloths.  Kuba are also made using applique, but I don't have any at this time and they are much more expensive.  

There are many qualities of Kuba and these are the highest quality available in this size.  It is hard to tell how old they are, but the trader I bought them from estimated that they were at least 20 or 30 years old.  They are $125 and the discount brings them down to $93.75.

Senufo Bronze Pendant: Ivory Coast, Mali

I have four of these lost wax Senufo pendants, two with horses and two of women. The lost wax technique has been used for centuries around the world to cast small objects.  The original is made out of wax and then covered by clay.  The metal is poured in and the wax melts out, so each piece is a unique, one of a kind piece.  If you like rustic pieces, these Senufo pendants should grab you.  They would be great as key chain amulets.  Price:  $42  With discount:  $31.50

The 25% off sale will go through November 24th, Thanksgiving Day.  Use NOVEMBERSALE at check out and Etsy will figure out the discount automatically.  

See all of my African items:  Click!

Happy shopping!


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Rayela Art's Thanksgiving Sale

Rayela Art's Thanksgiving Sale

Thanksgiving is coming up here in the United States, the 24th of November.  I have a lot to be thankful for, especially as TAFA's new site gets ready to launch.  So, I am putting my Etsy shop on sale, 25% off of everything through the 24th.

Rayela Art: Tribal and Vintage Textiles

Of course, my agenda is also to hopefully move some things.  I have a big pile of things to photograph and list and would like to re-order some of my best sellers that I've run out of.  So, will you help me make room for new things?  

A couple of ideas:

Wooden stamps from India, available on Rayela Art

I have several of these sets, small carved stamps from India.  Not great as a stamp, but interesting as a rustic ornament.  Add a eye screw picture hanger and hang it on your tree.  Great stocking stuffers.  Currently priced at $12.50 a set, the discount brings it down to $9.38.  Do you see the little round things on the side of some of them?  Those are whistles.  Screechy, like a cat in heat.  Lovely, eh?

Pakistani Remnant Pillows from Rayela Art

I have a lot of these pillows and a pile more to list.  Old textiles have been selvaged and made into something new.  I don't really care for the cowrie shells on these pillows, but some people might like them.  If you don't, they are easily snipped off.  Great gifts for college kids!  Well, for the ones that go tribal in their decor...  Normally $18, they are now $13.50.  A great deal for all that embroidery!  We used to sell them easily in our Chicago gallery for $45 a piece!

Go look around and find some things that you like.  When you are done, type in NOVEMBERSALE as your coupon code during check out.  Etsy will automatically take off the discount from the total.  I won't be able to give my free shipping offers with the sale, but most of my things fit in flat rate envelopes.  

Have fun shopping!  Clicking on any of the items below will take you to my Etsy shop.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Uncontacted Tribes

Awá child, Amazon, photo by Survival International

A friend sent me a link to Survival International's website, Uncontacted Tribes.    These are tribes that still have no contact with the rest of us, considered "civilized" by some.  Many live in forested areas that have encroaching development on their periphery.  Quite a few are down to just a few surviving people.  For example, the Akuntsu of the Amazon in Brazil only have six people left.  The rest of their tribe was slaughtered by developers of a major roadway that went through their land in Rondonia, a Brazilian state in the Northwest, just South of the Amazon.

Can you imagine being left with only five other people who understand your language, your way of life?

Survival International describes a bit of the Akuntsu life:  "The Akuntsu make wooden flutes which 
are used in dances and rituals. They wear arm bands and anklets made of
 palm fibre. Shell necklaces have been replaced by necklaces of bright 
plastic which the Akuntsu cut from the
 pesticide containers left as litter by the ranchers. 
They paint their bodies with urucum (annatto dye) for ceremonies."  Learn more about these survivors on their page:  Akuntsu

Survival International has a list of tribes who are threatened around the world, each with pages describing their story, how they are threatened and what can be done for them.  A couple have even made a come back!

The last issue of National Geographic had an awful story about what is going on in the Congo.  One of the most fertile areas in Africa and held as a conservation area for wildlife, people have been destroying the forest and wildlife in order to survive.  This is also where refugees from the Rwandan genocide have fled to and they want the land.  Armed guerrillas fight the rangers for control of the forest|:

I don't know why I even read or watch these reports.  It is so discouraging and sad.  I remember that back in High School, late 1970's, we were told, "If this doesn't stop, this will happen..."  Cause and effect.  The 7 billionth child was just born.  Where are we going? 

It doesn't help to close my eyes.  I know it is all happening.  The beauty of our planet being run over by our own lifestyle along with the greed, guns, and guerrillas of a failed social system.  Yes, it's depressing.  But, I do believe that every little thing we do in our own corner of the world can create a positive reaction that will stop some of this destruction.  Keep your corner healthy and teach your neighbor how to do it, too!

Here is a Shipibo textile from Medicine Hunter which reminds me how we are all woven together and our paths cross, whether we see it or not:

The Shipibo people are native to the Peruvian Amazon. Traditionally, the women create these beautiful hand embroidered textiles depicting visions experienced in ceremony with Ayahuasca Shaman.



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