According to Navajo oral tradition, two holy people -- Spider Woman and Spider Man -- introduced weaving to the Navajo people. Spider Man constructed the first loom, composed of sunshine, lightning and rain, and Spider Woman taught the people how to weave on it.
Now, two members of the Navajo Nation -- Lynda Teller Pete and her sister Barbara Teller Ornelas -- will share their rich legacy in a Navajo Rug Weaving Workshop on Aug. 27-31.
"Our mother instilled the belief that beauty and harmony should be woven into every rug," explains Pete, who lives in Denver. "We teach the Navajo Way, which is different from a lot of instructional books that are written by non-Navajo authors."
Participants in the August workshop will learn much more than weaving techniques. They will have a glimpse into generations of enduring Navajo weaving as Pete and Ornelas share their family's rich heritage in song and story.
"Each tapestry tells a story," Pete says. "They are imbued with the hopes, dreams, tears and laughter of the weaver."
For more than five generations, grandmothers, mother, sisters, sons, aunts and cousins in the Teller family have produced award-winning rugs in the traditional Two Grey Hills pattern. This Navajo design is identified primarily by a double-diamond layout and intricate geometric imagery that uses natural colored, hand-carded and hand-spun wool. At the Two Grey Hills Trading Post where her father worked, Pete's mother
"Weaving was viewed as a way of life in our family, and weaving lessons were mandatory," says Pete. Ornelas -- who lives in Arizona and New Mexico -- and Pete have been doing their part to continue the tradition. Ornelas' two children are weavers, and the sisters' great grandniece is also learning to weave.
"She's only 10 years old so we have to compete for her attention with computer games and texting," adds Pete.
The August workshop takes place, Monday through Friday, Aug. 27-31 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Studio*in Heather Farm Park, off Ygnacio Valley Road in Walnut Creek. Sponsored by Civic Arts Education, the workshop includes upright, pre-warped looms for the use of participants. For a complete materials list and to register, call 925-943-5846 or go to www.arts-ed.org