Ikh Nart craft collective

I’ve Returned from Ikh Nartiin Chuluu

My trip to Ikh Nart was amazingly successful. It seemed like all the stars aligned for my three days of meetings with the women who want to start a crafts cooperative.

It’s going to take a bit to sort it all out and write it down coherently, but the punchline is that they got the word out, fourteen women took a five day felt workshop a month or so ago, and, when they showed up at the research camp (a half hour early), their new Director, Boloroo, handed me a fourteen page proposal and the ladies spread almost two dozen felt craft items out on the tables we’d set up.

To say that we were off and running would be a major understatement. The ladies even had a name for their group- “Ikh Nart Is Our Future”- ready for my approval. I approved. Immediately.

I had purchased four meters of felt in UB to give them and, in three days, all of that was turned into slippers, purses, a large rug and a variety of other things.

I also brought the fabric for them to make del for my husband and I. They finished both of them, fully lined and all the fastenings made by hand, sewn on manual sewing machines and ironed with old irons heated on a propane stove, in three days.

The next step will be to work out the details of the $800 loan that they have requested to buy a felt press, since their intention is to make the felt themselves, not buy factory-made.

Gana Wingard, the biologist who made the trip with me as translator and liaison, was as blown away as I was at how much effort they had put into this. We were going to go out early and late to look for argali and ibex, but never had the time. The schedule and pace was set by the women and it was non-stop. I did see and photograph some argali on the way into the reserve and on the way out.

To Jeff Whiting and everyone at AFC- I can absolutely guarantee you that you have gotten your money’s worth and then some for awarding me this grant. There are single mothers and poor families who will be benefiting for years to come because you made it possible for me to go to Ikh Nart.

Here’s a few photos:

Argali ewe on rock

Argali ewe on rock

The ladies arrive at the research camp

The ladies arrive at the research camp

Laying Mongol felt rug design

Laying out Mongol felt rug design

Ladies working on felt projects

Ladies working on felt projects

Me with new friend

Me with new friend

Sewing my del

Sewing my del

A felt purse with Ikh Nart patch which was given to me as a gift

A felt purse with Ikh Nart patch which was given to me as a gift

Ready for customers; eleven Aussies, as it turned out

Ready for customers; eleven Aussies, as it turned out

A "maikhant" or summer tent; me in my new del with the AFC Flag

A "maikhan" or summer tent; me in my new del with the AFC Flag

Group shot, including Aussie tour group members

Group shot, including Aussie tour group members

Four argali that we saw as we left the reserve this morning

Four argali that we saw as we left the reserve this morning

 

4 replies »

  1. Susan, this is wonderful. Congratulations to you and to AFC for making this possible! I love seeing those happy faces, the amazing handiwork, and the beauty of the reserve. It all works so beautifully together. You have made such a difference– just a fascinating and worthwhile project. I look forward to learning more.

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  2. I cannot tell you how proud I am of you..this is just so wonderful…am in tears of joy for you and the ladies….

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  3. Beautiful! (and I love the summer tent! I would LOVE one of those for SCA camping! The period stuff is way too big for one person but the modern stuff is so BORING.

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  4. Susan

    I’m going to Ikh Nart in September with Earthwatch. Is there anything I could take along to donate to your cooperative – fabric dye, ribbon, buttons ???? I’m not a fiber artist but a bookbinder and photographer but I have friends who are fiber artists & in some cases sheep raisers. I would be willing to contact some of them if there were things they might contribute to this project.

    Please let me know what we might do to help.

    Judy Strom

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