Burmese Karen Weaving Demonstrations


Burmese weavers 2 Burmese weavers 1On April 26 and 27, 2014, Decatur’s Mingei World Arts Gallery owners, Ann VanSlyke and Ellen McFee, and TASA members Barbara Sherman and Junco Sato Pollack hosted a weaving demonstration by the Burmese Karen women.  The refugee women  set up their backstrap weaving looms, yarns, and market bags for sale in Mingei’s outdoor courtyard.

Junco, who also answered questions about the future of this project, has worked with the women to create various marketable fabrics and products.  The collaboration begins with Junco producing a design sketch with assigned colorways.  Artisan Weaver Pa Taw produces one design from it and moves on to improvising and interpreting in the Karen style.  She then creates individual warps and sends these to others to weave on their own looms.  Junco accompanies Barbara Sherman on her weekly visits, to discuss colors, tools and techniques.  The vision is ultimately to leave the designs and yarn selections up to the Karen weavers themselves as soon as they gain experience in the marketplace.

The Karen Weavers Workshop (KWW) was established in 2013 by two women who are members of the Textile Appreciation Society of Atlanta (TASA), an organization promoting an appreciation of the textile cultures of the world.  There are many thousands of refugees within the Atlanta metro area and Clarkston, Georgia,  in particular.  One very fine group of weavers, originally from Myanmar, is the Karen.  The Karen women’s traditional weaving techniques and designs have been passed down for generations.  KWW’s goal is to encourage support and preserve this wonderful cultural heritage.  The Workshop also hopes to be able to provide a sustainable income for the weavers by marketing their products through the Women’s Cooperative at the Clarkston Community Center which believes that collaborating and marketing as a community will translate into success for all artisans.

Submitted by Gail Goodwin & Junco Sato Pollack




TASA’s Spring Program: Symbolism in Japanese Textiles

On April 8, Merrily Baird, former CIA employee, presented a program on symbolism in Japanese textiles. 35 TASA members and friends attended the program held in the artifact-filled home of world-traveler Carolyn Branch.

Merrily spoke about the importance of the color purple in Japanese fabrics. Purple has been associated with lasting love because the dye comes from the Murasaki plant, a plant with long roots.

Merrily gave a historical perspective to the images used in kimonos.  She also illustrated her talk with swaths of fabric, ceramic pieces and other items.  TASA members enjoyed looking at the images of long grass, long turtle, cranes, plum blossoms, rivers, turnips, carrots, peonies, 8-petal flowers for the Buddhist 8-fold path and many other symbols.  Unlike in Chinese textiles, human figures are not commonly found on kimonos.

Submitted by Gail Goodwin

Guatemalan Textiles Trunk Show

On March 11, TASA members enjoyed a trunk show of vintage Guatemalan textiles collected by Bill Arnett in the 1970’s.  Stephanie Jolluck of Colección Luna organized and researched a collection of tzutes, fajas, huipiles, cortes, rebozos, faldas, and cintas  to present to TASA members and friends for purchase.

In addition to the sale, Bill Arnett gave a tour of his warehouse that houses his large collection of regional folk art.

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