Deb Brandon: Living in Radiant Color

To Market

The only direction that remained open was behind me. I wriggled through gaps in the crowd until I found myself against the railing at the back of the stage. A tad disappointed I wouldn’t see the parade of nations as they made their way along the street, I took in my surroundings–the railing marked the boundary between me and a ramp to the stage.
Tuareg jewler Tuareg jewler

Here I was, in a prime spot to watch the parade for the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market. I was within an arm’s length of artisans from Italy, France, Laos, India, Ghana, and Vietnam. I was close enough to see details of their traditional costumes, translucent pina cloth from the Philippines, indigo dyed jackets from Nigeria and Thailand, and colorful bhandani shawls from India.

The next morning, before I entered the market, I promised myself I would act with restraint, unlike the last time I attended the folk art market. I’d only get a sample of pina and adire cloth, kantha embroider, and perhaps… what else did I need?

I wandered around, entering textile booths to examine the wares more closely. I kept performing the “weaver’s handshake,”  fingering hand woven cotton robes, fondling flowing silk scarves, running my hand over knotted-pile rugs. I breathed in the scent of indigo dyed cotton and caught whiffs of sericin emanating from handwoven silk.

I bought samples of textiles I wanted to write about, a chikan embroidered napkin, a handwoven table runner from Mynamar, and an adire cloth tote.  I splurged on two items—an oh-so-soft indigo dyed jacket from Laos with classic H’mong embroidery on the sleeves, and a gorgeous machine embroidered white blouse from Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec.

I also bought a suzani embroidered wall hanging and an origami cap from Uzbekistan. Oh, also a felted cap from one of the other ‘Stans. And yes, a piece a of kantha embroidery. And a… I know there was something else.

But there was so much I could have bought and didn’t. Beautiful Mexican rugs, indigo dyed vests, hand embroidered huipiles, and handwoven jackets. I would have loved to buy one of Fofana’s indigo dyed garment. And I managed to resist the Tuareg jewelry, consoling myself by having my picture taken with the artisan.

When it got too hot, I entered the folk art museum to cool down, where I spent more money, in the bookstore. I bought two books on textiles. Or was it three?

So yes, I came away with a much lighter wallet and a much fuller suitcase. But I had such a fabulous time indulging in two of my favorite vices—textiles and books.

Dare I attend next summer’s market?