UPDATE! The winner of this giveaway (chosen by random.org) is comment #18–Suzanne @ the Smitten Word! Congrats Suzanne, and thanks to all for participating.
Today I am doing something new here: a guest post (by the amazing Jessica Goudeau, a real-life hero of mine) and a giveaway. The work that Jessica is doing in Texas through Hill Country Hill Tribers is nothing short of miraculous–everyone involved is being changed by it. All this week some of my favorite people have been writing about this amazing organization (Read more–and enter the giveaways!–at Rachel Held Evans or Sarah Bessey’s site). Today, read about a few of the amazing artisans, and get jazzed by the imaginations these women have. It is inspiring, beautiful, and encouraging. Enjoy.
Edit: this giveaway is now closed!
In the neighborhood where I live in Austin, no one sits outside on their porch at night. Neighbors don’t pull up a chair while we’re sitting on our steps snapping beans. We don’t chat across the courtyard with each other or look out the window to see if we’ve gotten home to bring over a bowl of rice or just catch up on the day.
It’s one of the things I love best about visiting the refugee artisans of Hill Country Hill Tribers. There are pockets of them, family clans or strangers brought together by the fact that they’re the only people in thousands of miles who speak their particular dialect. Our jewelry-makers are a little group like this: almost completely Kachin hill tribers, they live in the same courtyard of the same apartment building. They watch each other’s children. They finish each other’s sentences.They cook large meals for everyone to share.
They work together to create a necklace that is a testimony to their teamwork and their community.
Last year, we asked as many women as we could to show us what they do. We had been working exclusively with weavers, then found out many of the women could sew. Convinced there were more artistic gifts among these talented women, we brought a bunch of supplies and passed them around and asked the women to be creative.
Within a few weeks, we had some amazing results. Huang, who quickly became our lead jewelry designer, knew how to tat (crochet on a smaller scale, like jewelry). And Nang, one of her good friends, had an impeccable eye for jewelry. We already knew Nang was one of our best seamstresses, but after a couple of weeks of coaching by her friend Huang, she brought back an amazing assortment of wrapped hoops that had hung together as earrings, necklaces and bracelets.
With a little editing and a little inspiration, we settled together on this lovely long necklace as one of our main fall designs.
But here’s the best part: in order to speed up their processing time, each one wraps rubber hoops in just two colors. Nang’s been working on dark coral and gold thread. Huang wraps mint green and champagne. Christine makes jade and light coral. A couple of other women make the last neutral colors. And then at night, after dinner while the kids are splashing in the apartment pool or writing with chalk on the sidewalk, Nang and her friends trade colors. Each one ends up with the right amount of hoops to make several necklaces. It’s an amazing system of teamwork and efficiency that shows how beautifully these women work together.
Nang made this necklace while she was at home with her five daughters. The high-school-aged girls look after the little ones while she works. They also help her with designs; like any teenaged daughters, they have serious opinions about what looks cool. (We’re happy to report, this necklace was given the thumbs up by the girls.)
Earlier this summer, the Burmese group in this apartment complex invited some American friends over to eat together. They set up tables under the trees by the pool. It was hot, the kind of sticky heat that makes sweat run down the back of your legs. My two little girls played hide-and-seek and tag with their Burmese friends; they ran in flapping flip-flops until it was too dark to see. We stuffed ourselves on fried rice in banana leaves, chicken kabobs, fresh fruit, chicken feet and Doritos. I wore the first prototype of the first necklace our team made together proudly. We were excited to show it to their other American friends, teachers and tutors and nurses and co-workers. It felt like the perfect metaphor for this group of women: colorful, collaborative, creative.
To win this necklace made by Nang with the help of her friends, here are the options (pick one, or two, or do them all! Each one is a chance to win):
- Follow Hill Country Hill Tribers (@hilltribers) on Twitter
- Like Hill Country Hill Tribers on Facebook
- Join our Facebook Flashmob and change your profile picture for one day on August 28
- Tweet/share/email/call your sister about this giveaway (make sure to mention @d_l_mayfield who is so graciously sharing her corner of the internet with us)
- Leave a comment on this blog post for each thing you do to be entered to win multiple times.
The giveaway ends Monday, August 27 at [5:00 pm EST]. If you don’t win, watch our website: August 28 at 8:00 am CST, the new products will go live and you’ll be able to buy the scarves and jewelry made by Nang and her friends.
So, enter away! And be sure and check out the Hill Tribers site. Tomorrow, the giveaways continue at Amy Lepine Peterson’s site. Go get it!