By Campbell Plowden
Four years ago, musician Gary Geykis asked me if the Peruvian native artisan who made the anaconda design belt he wore to hold up his pants could weave chambira palm fiber into a longer and wider strap to hold up his 12 string guitar. The resounding answer was yes and led to a whole series of snake pattern guitar straps. The women have continued to refine and expand these designs and adapted the strong weaves to make bracelets as well as collars and leashes for dogs.This past spring, a white-haired gent named Chuck Barbour bought three bracelets at the Caln Quarter Quaker gathering, tied them together and wrapped them around his fashionable white summer hat.
Thus was born the idea for the Amazon hat band and four women from the Bora village of Brillo Nuevo wove the first models this summer.
See photos of these.
The prototypes are 1 ½ wide, 23 inches long, with a 3 inch tassel at both ends to secure the band around the brim of any standard size hat. Some designs are the same as the popular snake patterns used in the belts and guitar straps – others are new such as the striking geometric combo of black and purple made by veteran artisan Segundina Silva. See all photos of artisans with hat bands.
Another new accessory that we hope will be popular with girls and women is the Amazon hair barrette. We passed around a dozen blanks for straight and ponytail holder barrettes to interested artisans from Brillo Nuevo and asked them to weave any design they thought would be pretty. Within days they started coming by our house in the village in the morning, afternoon and night to show off their creative efforts. See photos of artisans with Amazon hair barrettes. The designs ranged from simple two-colored bars or stripes to elaborate flowers and multi-colored butterflies. See photos of these at: http://tinyurl.com/AmazBarrettes and http://tinyurl.com/AmazBarrettes2.
As always happens when developing a new product, we’d see an element in one design that we would then suggest to another artisan to incorporate in her next one. At the end of the week, Yully and I selected the ones we thought were the most interesting to attach to the first batch of barrette blanks to test market.Our Amazon Field Volunteer Amrit Moore had a particularly sharp eye for one very promising design. She bought one of the two butterfly barrettes at the CACE craft display at a large Quaker gathering in Frostburg, MD. The other one was snapped up quickly to the chagrin of seven other girls who apparently wanted one of these fanciful flying critters to adorn their hair as well. We’ve already ordered a new batch of these and other popular designs.
To purchase or order any of these Amazon hat bands or hair barrettes, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.