Monday, July 27, 2009

New Mexico Fiber Arts Trail

The Fiber Trail is a very large "trail", covering several sections of the state, running from outside of Albuquerque north to outside of Santa Fe, and east to Tucumcari. It was established in an attempt by New Mexico leadership to encourage entrepreneurship, while allowing rural artists to make their living by their own hands, without having to travel long distances or to deal with third-party intermediaries in order to market their wares. The philosophy is that "creativity flourishes on the back roads, for both artists and travelers." (NM Dept. of Cultural Affairs).

There are 71 destinations along the trails, including galleries, shops, and the homes of working artisans. Working these trails would have been more than a summer's road trip, in itself. Trying to be realistic, I selected two destinations: Good Fibrations in Edgewood, and Viorge Designs in Tucumcari.

Good Fibrations -- with a name like that, how could you go wrong?! This is one of the "cottage industries" among the fiber trail stopping points. There, I find "Yarn from my backyard," as the shopkeeper put it, "from Teesha and her family." Teesha, as it turns out, is a sheep, and she and her family are lovingly raised, ass have names, and are hand-clipped. The fiber is cleaned and carded and spun and died or died and then spun, depending on the desired color effect). The information about the source of the yarn is significant to the mama of vegans, who cannot abide the treatment of commercially-raised sheep that are bred for large-scale production.

Also at Good Fibrations are lovely handmade wooden tools that are crafted from exotic woods for fiber fanatics like myself. The shopkeeper and her assistant seem happy to answer my many "what's this?" and "what's that?" questions. One rather mystifying wooden gizmo with nuts and bolts and dowel-sized holes askes the question of itself, with an intriguing sign tacked to it, "What's this?" "Okay, I give up -- what is it?" I ask the ladies. They don't know either.

I resist the temptation to take it home to figure it out. But it sure looks like it could be useful. For something...

But time is short, and we must press ahead to Tucumcari, which is the end not only of this fiber trail, but also the end of the legendary Route 66 which we have been traveling from time to time.

With the help of Maggie, our faithful GPS, we find our way to the address for the Viorge design gallery. We figure that this is in their home. But when we arrive that the modest little white house at the eastern end of the state, we see no sign for an artisan gallery. Instead, in what otherwise looks like an abandoned old house, there are signs scrawled in Spanish about prayer services. Seems that this building may now be used sometimes as a little neighborhood church. Or not. No people are around, and the two large dogs in the adjoining yard are barking with increasing assertiveness. We move along.

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