Experiments and Inspiration

Last year in June, in San Lucas Toliman, we worked with a much larger group of women then the group of women that is currently assembled under the name of Ajkem’a Loy’a.

Students and faculty from The New School conducted workshops in business, marketing and design. The women of San Lucas Toliman taught us how to weave, bead, and dye threads with natural dyes. The group we worked with wasn’t an organic group, it was a group of women who previously participated in workshops initiated by CARE, workshops dealing with (among other things) health, family planning, and the empowerment of women. In the past year, the group of women that we currently know as Ajkem’a Loy’a became a tight group that is now slowly developing their own products. They take pride in themselves as designers and are very ambitious to create their own designs. Their product development over the past year has been amazing !

Nonetheless, there are other women in San Lucas Toliman that are very gifted weavers and that benefited from our workshops last year, but that are not included in the association Ajkem’a Loy’a. We as faculty and students got really involved in the work and the lives of the women we worked with last year, and coming back this year, as an extension of the New School, it didn’t seem right to only continue working with the women of Ajkem’a Loy’a while excluding the other women from the opportunity to learn and grow with us in the month that we are here.

Thursday a week ago we talked with the women of Ajkem’a Loy’a explaining to them that being here as students and faculty of the New School, an institute for teaching and learning, we didn’t want to exclude anybody from the opportunity to work and grow with us.

We already noticed in the first week that the women of Ajkem’a Loy’a preferred to work in the morning, only a few or none would come in the afternoon. In the morning the sun is out and the air is dry, in the afternoon it rains, the air is very damp, which makes it harder to weave. We agreed with the women of Ajkem’a Loy’a that we would continue to work with them in the mornings and that we would invite other women to work with us in the afternoon.

Friday a week ago was our first day to work with two groups. The second group is a group that formed itself around a few of the other women we worked with last year, it is not a real group yet, but they seem very dedicated to working together and developing new products. The products that they shared with us in the afternoon were beautiful, they immediately radiated a very different energy and we imagined completely different possibilities for products then with the women of Ajkem’a Loy’a.

That morning, with the women of Ajkem’a Loy’a we evaluated the experiments all of us had been working on during the week. The women showed how they translated the inspiration images they chose into their weaving and we shared our experiments with forms, seams, patterns and finishings for bags.


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