One must-see summer tour is a far cry from the usual pop music stars and rock legends. A group of women from the northwest African country of Morocco are traveling throughout the U.S. exhibiting their carpet weaving skills. “In Morocco, the carpets represent the home and the nurturing of the family,” says Terra Fuller, an American weaver partly responsible for bringing the women to visit. “They represent security and the role of women in the family.”
Carpet weaving is an important ancestral craft passed down from one generation to the next. More than decoration, the handwoven carpets are sometimes the only furniture found in rural homes. With limited means, the women make use of found objects to make their creations. The looms are almost always made of recycled materials; in fact, when the weavers arrived in New Orleans, they scoured riverbanks and abandoned buildings for driftwood to build looms.
What may look like artistic expression is also big business; carpet weaving is a means of income for many families. Aside from the commercial salability, the craft is a unique example of group effort, resulting in a weave that represents many generations of family and friends. “A carpet is usually started by one woman and several women will contribute to it by the end. It’s interesting because you can see the different hands in one carpet. It’s almost like drawings,” adds Fuller.
Chappell Ellison is a designer, writer and design writer. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York where she serves as a contributor for The Etsy Blog and design columnist for GOOD.