Women's Craft: Fabric Doormat 

CERI (Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants) welcomed ARTogether once again for the monthly women’s workshop series meeting 3 consecutive days to ensure opportunity for all. This time ARTogether’s executive director, Leva, and volunteer, Caitlyn, the opportunity to rise to the occasion and teach this workshop.

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The women gathered around a huge pile of fabric strips coming from a bounty of fabrics donated to ARTogether. Leva explained that we would be making woven doormats and first we had to braid the strips together to make a braid as long as possible. Using their toes as tension, everyone immediately knew what to do after years of braiding hair. The room was full of colorful threads being woven into new creations. Strips of red and white and orange and yellow and pink gave the room a wonderful warmth that everyone felt. After some time, the fabric ran out and it was time to spiral the braids into one colorful piece, yet to ARTogether’s surprise, the women unanimously agreed that they wanted to create one big piece compiled of all of their braids, to give to CERI, rather than taking home individual mats. The final construction of the mat proved more difficult than expected and rather than sewing it together, Leva suggested we use fabric glue.

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The following day, the women gathered once again surrounding a fresh pile of fabric strips, now with new colors in the mix like navy and purple. Caitlyn dedicated the workshop to gluing the mat from the previous workshop while the rest of the women set off braiding their strips together. The colors reminded one woman of her grandmother’s house in Cambodia, she had looked lost in thought, emerging to explain where her mind takes her in a peaceful place like an ARTogether workshop. The activity also reminded the women of crafts they had the option to do in the refugee camps in the Philippines. The conversation evolved from there where a few women explained to Leva and Caitlyn the process of arrival from Cambodia to the US. One woman was in the refugee camp for four years, others, only a few months. There is no unilateral experience for refugees and spaces where they can talk about their journeys are so important. ARTogether is grateful to provide this space for healing. Amazingly, this group of women, inspired by the first group, also decided to donate their pieces to the creation of a whole.

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