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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Part of a bigger picture

Saturday marked the opening of the World Threads II Exhibit at the TACtile Textile Arts Center in Denver. We've been friends of TACtile since shortly after we started A Little Something. It's a very intriguing place if you're interested in the many aspects of fiber arts (and that includes beading and basketry). In addition to being dedicated to promoting awareness of fiber arts traditions, TACtile is also supportive of local nonprofit organizations that work with artisans here and abroad to improve their chances of achieving self-sufficiency, an improved standard of living, and healthier communities.

The World Threads show specifically celebrates the beauty of textiles from around the world. Step into the gallery and let yourself be transported across continents and cultures. Silk balloon pants from China, a wedding sari from India, a Japanese kimono, a piano shawl, embroidery, intricate quilting from rural China, and more fill the gallery area.

Enter the big room and you've just stepped into the world of art with a purpose. The creations in this room are brought to you by a group of globally-focused nonprofit organizations. Bright Ralli quilts from India will catch your eye immediately. The Ralli quilters of northern India and Pakistan create playful, intricate works of art. The quilts are here by way of Patricia Stoddard, who also wrote the book, Ralli Quilts: Traditional Textiles from Pakistan and India. (See if you can find a copy of the book in this picture.)

Silks of Laos assists Lao weavers who create sumptuous magic with their looms. This organization's work supports educational opportunities and a sustainable income for the weavers in this area near the Vietnam border.

Across the room, gossamer silk scarves flutter against the wall, and a collection of snowy white cotton nightgowns boast intricate pintucking and embroidery details. This is the work of Memsahib Mar, an organization that sells textile arts to benefit several nongovernmental organizations in India, as well as women's cooperatives and two orphanages.

Indigo threads is another organization working with Lao artisans. Their weaving is done on back strap looms creating textiles that are colored using natural dyes. Several traditional weaving techniques are represented in this work, including ikat. The money earned from textiles produced in this area of southern Laos goes to fund schools and provide educational opportunities for children in poor, rural areas.

The cutest hats ever are made by Eternal Threads. This organization rescues girls from the sex industry in Nepal and Madagascar. The girls learn skills such as knitting, weaving, and sewing. The animal hats are precious, and they are displayed alongside colorful raffia giraffes.

Maya Cielo carries traditional cotton woven items from Central America. Colorful throws, lengths of undyed white cotton fabric, and cloth dolls are created by skilled weavers. The work of Maya Cielo supports this cooperative in Guatemala.

Anoothi is a partnership between women in Jaipur, India and women in the U.S. The Indian women not only make beautiful crafts, they gather to learn about healthcare, gender equality, and financial literacy. The gemstone jewelry and textile items made from recycled saris generate income for the women; sales also fund the work these organizations do overseas.

There's certainly quite a bit more to see at the show, and there is plenty to buy. Know that every dollar you spend helps to make the world a better place, both across continents and right here at home.

Check TACtile's website for the schedule of Saturday talks and demonstrations presented by the participating nonprofit artisan groups. World Threads II continues through May 28.

TACtile Textile Arts Center
Tamarac Square
E. Hampden Ave. at S. Quebec St., Suite 114
(Lower Level, near Rodney's Restaurant)
Denver, Colorado

Hours: 11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

Natural dyes lend additional beauty to African baskets and organic cotton shawls, scarves, and other textiles from Ethiopia. By Woven Promises

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