Awamaki works with nearly 60 indigenous weavers. For several years we have regularly run natural dyes workshops with them so they can retain traditional techniques and increase the market value of their weavings. A local weaving expert leads the workshops, which are funded in part by donations to this GlobalGiving project. Since we began holding the workshops, the weavers' dyeing expertise has increased, but as our project grows, we have increasingly specific dyeing needs. For example, in order to accept many international orders, the cooperative must be able to guarantee certain color shades or combinations. Plant, fungus and insect dyes are an important part of the weavers' tradition, but by nature they are imprecise in their fidelity to exact color shades. Dyeing expertise is an increasingly necessary skill in order to link weavers to international markets. Responding to the increasing demands of these markets, in November Awamaki held extra, more intensive natural dyes training for six weavers who had volunteered to become dyes experts. In the future they can take charge of leading dye workshops for the whole cooperative, rather than relying on an outside teacher to lead them. The weavers' new expertise will also allow the cooperative to offer dyes workshops to tourists through Awamaki's tourism offerings. Tourists will be able to stay in the community in the home of one of the weavers, and learn to spin, dye and weave.This is an exciting step towards greater cooperative autonomy, and will translate directly into increased income for the women. Moreover, running workshops internally will save Awamaki funds to invest in other skills that will allow our female artisans to continue creating unique, fashionable goods for international markets.
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