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An Organic Experience

An Organic Experience
1984, Steve with some of the artists responsible for the dyed wool inspect the fruits of their labor for the first time.  They greatly admired and enthusiastically discussed the piece, and each was justifiably proud of her own contribution to it.

Excerpt from The Fine Art of Navajo Weaving, text by Steve Getzwiller, photos by Ray Manley
The textile shown here represents a significant achievement in contemporary Navajo weaving.  It is a combination of the talents of six of the most talented vegetal dye artist of the Wide Ruins area, and the weaving and design abilities of two of the finest weavers of the Ganado region.  
There are twenty-five subtly blended vegetal dye colors involved in the weaving.   They represent some of the more desirable hues which the following six ladies are most noted for: Ellen Smith,  Nellie Roan,  Marie Begay,  Betty B. Roan,  Annie Tsosie and Mary Jane Barker. This dye information is generally shared only with family members and no one else, which, by the way, is another reason for much of the experimentation.  Some colors are considered by some weavers to be family hallmarks.
Over a period of several years,  Steve established the confidence necessary to commission the preparation of the wool used in this rug. The actual preparation time required approximately six months.  These ladies would never consider doing this for someone they did not know well and trust.  
Steve commissioned Sadie Curtis to do the weaving of this piece because of her outstanding design and technical ability.  Together with her aunt, Alice Balone, and in approximately six months of weaving time, they completed this masterpiece.  It is exceptionally large, 6" x 9", and is finely woven for a rug of this type, for most pieces do not exceed 3' x 5', or 4' x 6'.
Burntwater Navajo Rug Nizhoni Ranch Gallery
This incredible piece of art is featured at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum as part of the exhibit, "One Traders Legacy, Steve Getzwiller Collects the West"

 Weavers are still weaving gorgeous Burntwater rugs today.  Some still go to the extra mile and make their own dyes using native reservation plants and other natural materials.  Using vegetal dyes, also known as natural dyes, plays a major role in the quality and value of Burntwater rugs.  In fact, weaving a rug with hand dyed natural wool can double the amount of time it takes to complete a weaving.  Therefore, weavings made with natural dyes are of much higher value.  Important to note, when purchasing a Burntwater rug,  be sure to identify if the weaver used vegetal dyes versus analine (commercial) dyes as it greatly impacts the value of the weaving.

Elvie Van Winkle, one of our contemporary weavers, is known for her very tight Navajo weavings, but this weaving was a whole new adventure for her.  As she wove this rug, she also hand dyed the wool with natural dyes to create the most incredible colors and color combinations.  She learned this regional style and family secret dye colors from Lillian Joe, her mom, who continues to weave today.  Lillian is well known for weaving with fine wool, and usually produces small weavings.  

 This weaving is 3' x 4' and showcases Elvie's incredible talent.  It is everything that a Burntwater should be, colorful, balanced and intricate!  Elvie told us she used 60 different wool colors and except for just a few were all hand dyed with vegatal dyes!!!

Elvie won 1st Place and Best of Category at the 2018 Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial in August for this incredible weaving.  Sorry, it's no longer available!  

Burntwater Navajo Weaving : Elvie Van Winkle : 3352


Below is Elvie's latest work of art.  She is so talented!  Not sure if this one will last until August..so that we can enter it into the 2019 Gallup Inter-tribal Indian Ceremonial.  No ribbon or not this is truly spectacular weaving!




 burntwater-navajo-weaving-on-the-loom_1024x1024 Elvie Vanwinkle

As always, we'd love to talk about our weavings!  Give us a call!  520-455-5020

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    • Beth Barth