From My First Tapestry to My Second Tapestry – something of a quantum leap!The finished Fish Man – based on a Máximo Laura design – is one part dream to two parts sampler: there are many more techniques in there than the design really calls for, so that I could learn how to do them. It’s also probably only about 55% my own work, the rest being down to the patient and scarily speedy mastery of Jimmy, Richard and Máximo, all of whom took quite remarkable time and care over helping each of the five tapesters in the second week’s workshop to choose their colours and techniques and then understand and work them. Oh, and speeding through the ‘easy’ bits for us to save time as the Friday lunchtime deadline began to loom!
Inevitably, and very happily, I learned tons – much of it through repetition, trial and error, and much through unfailingly patient explanation and demonstration from our three teachers. The great Máximo Laura sat for half an hour just showing me how to work out which way to tie the knots to make a line go up or down, left or right. Jimmy gave me probably my third mini-masterclass in blending colours in sumac when there was just an hour to go till the deadline for finishing our tapestries – and you would have thought we had all the time in the world.
It wasn’t just that the three of them – each a master tapester who has been weaving since childhood, and one officially a ‘living national treasure’ – were kind enough to mask what you would have thought would be the almost physical pain of observing our laboured progress and correcting our recurrent mistakes over the course of four days. Instead they had the calm of people who were genuinely perfectly happy to explain all over again, and who delighted in our delight at every new piece of learning.
As the novice of the group, I was unable to complete my fish man by midday on Friday, so condemning los chicos to a further afternoon’s coaching. To let me take my time and reap as much learning from it as possible, they set me on course with each of the remaining blocks of weaving and then let me get on with it at my own pace, while they dismantled the workshop around me, stopping only to respond to the occasional distress call as my yarn failed to do what it was supposed to, and to natter about life, the universe and everything.
By the end, you’d swear they were as proud and pleased as I was with the result.
Our collective celebrations at the end of another week’s learning and laughing were fun, warm, colourful and musical – but we were all sad to say goodbye to our teachers, of all disciplines. A more talented, hard-working and likeable group of people you could scarcely wish to learn from, and more generous with their knowledge and time than we could have hoped for.
We did get to take one hostage, though: Anabél, whom we smuggled to Cusco with us the next day... J