From the Incan genius of Macchu Picchu to the bountiful rice paddies of Vietnam, agricultural terraces are innovative way to make the most of the land. As beautiful representations of resourcefulness, they were a natural inspiration for the design of one our newest wall-hangings.
Well-known to ancient cultures, terrace farming is still practiced today, turning hilly and mountainous terrain into fields of promise. These engineering marvels also provide spectacular visuals. It was such a picture that inspired the collaboration between one of our product designers and a talented weaver in Peru.
Working with artisan groups over time, we learn about their production challenges and also their strengths. Through our fair trade partner Intercrafts Peru, we have developed a relationship with master weaver Herlinda Artola. Herlinda’s specialty is coiled wool weaving; in which various colors of dyed wool are added to the loom individually to create subtle shading and painterly effects in remarkably lifelike scenes.
But in the areas around the hillside community of Chaclacyo, outside Lima, Peru, where Herlinda and other weavers live, there is not great demand for this exquisite craft. Through Intercrafts Peru, Herlinda was has been able to connect with new markets and with customers who appreciate the beauty and potential of her work. Struck by the stunning visual lines and colors in a photograph of hillside terraces, a Ten Thousand Villages product designer created a sketch for a wall-hanging.
Together, Herlinda and Ten Thousand Villages worked to choose the right colors, develop samples and ultimately create an exciting, unique design that incorporates time-honored weaving skills.
The result is the Terraced Sky Wall Art. The surreal visual effect of the textile has an almost dreamlike quality. And, in fact, it represents a dream realized for Herlinda.
Our buyer first met Herlinda in 2007, soon after she began learning the craft. At that time, she and her husband had just completed building their first house, with exposed mud brick walls, a tin roof, and dirt floors. Though simple, this new home represented independence. It was the place where they could build their new life together. And that they did.
Returning to visit nearly a decade later, our buyer found a home transformed. Expanded several times over, it now boasts a separate work space for Herlinda and individual bedrooms for the children. The walls have been plastered and painted, inside and out, the floors covered with ceramic tile, and the doors and windows replaced with secure units. These improvements have been made possible through Herlinda’s income. Yet, the home she has built is only part of her pride; it is the schooling she has been able to provide her children that is her greatest joy.