Posted by: bschutzgruber | July 27, 2015

Art Fairs in the summer

For over 50 years the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan becomes one of largest street art fairs in the country with 4 different art fairs going on simultaneously for 4 days in July.  Streets are closed off as over 800 artists from around the country, as well as right here in town, set up shop with items large and small made from clay, glass, wood, and metal; paintings and photographs; sculptures and of course…. fiber!  The Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild (my local guild) has a booth as part of the State Street Area Art Fair.


This is a team effort with myself and 15 other members selling items, plus 27 members volunteering their time to help man the booth this year.

As I walked past the booths of artists on my way to work one of evening shifts, one booth in particular caught my eye – a weaver working on a large loom….


.. and of course I had to stop and take a look!  Here I met Wilbur Quispe, a master weaver visiting from Peru, and Melanie Ebertz, of ArtAndes.  ArtAndes, based in Stillwater MN, was created out of Melanie’s personal interest in the people, culture, and textiles of Peru.  Over the years she has developed long-term collaborations with weavers, especially those in the Ayacucho area of the Andes.

IMG_20150718_165524_726   The story of how Wilbur Quispe became one of Peru’s master weavers is fascinating.  His dream is to create a weaving workshop in the Ayacucho area with enough looms to teach several men at a time and thus providing jobs for weavers, spinners, and the gathering the dye materials.  In 2011, he was interviewed by Dick Gordon for NPR’s ‘The Story’.



As I am not fluent in Spanish and Wilbur is not fluent in English, Melanie explained how each rug is made.  Using Alpaca fiber, sheep wool, and traditional methods going back thousands of years, 3 ply yarn is handspun on drop spindles creating a stronger, tighter, and finer yarn for weaving.  Natural dyes made from local leaves, seeds, minerals and insects are used to create color fast hues with no harm to the environment.


I watched as Wilbur worked without using a cartoon (a physical pattern/drawing to follow) creating the images from memory.

These exquisite contemporary rugs use many ancient pre-Incan and pre-Columbian motifs.




I was drawn to the pattern of intertwined birds used as the border on the rug Wilbur was weaving.  This image dates back to a time before the Incan Empire.  I am happy to say that a smaller version of the rug has found a place in my home!

IMG_7242  IMG_7256

Sitting with my feet resting on wool from the Andes I look down and through the art of weaving, I am connected to artisans throughout time and from around the world.


  1. Darling Barbara Thank you so much for this beautiful story. I just love it and the videos. Wow we are now still on the same journey since I was doing the Scarf Exchange as Wangaratta Spinners and Weavers Secretary. Now we both love our Master Francisco and Master Sha. Master Sha has just spent two weeks in Australia . I was so blessed to be there with him for the whole two weeks. Both the calligraphy and Tao retreats were so amazing. I love you so much lets keep journeying together Soul Hugs Gitta (Master Francisco invented the soul hugs I spread everywhere . Last time he gave me uncountable hugs and told me he loved me spreading the Soul Hugs) More soul hugs Gitta

    • –Thanks so much for the ‘Soul Hug’, Gitta.

  2. So beautiful! Thank you for the story behind the video. I noticed too that he was working without a pattern, and so quickly! I am so happy for you to have a rug from him! One of my dreams is to go to Peru. Thank you again. : )

    • Yes… Peru is on my list of places to go also!

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