Aug 01

Peruvian Rugs and Tapestry at Rochester’s Thursday On First

crowds thursday

Crowds? What Crowds?
(from Thursday on First FB page)

After living in Rochester, Mn for almost four years, and tired of resisting the continuous prodding of my friend Sandra, I decided it was time to brave Rochester’s summertime festival, Thursday on First and Third. I say “brave” because I’m uncomfortable in crowds and as the images above should make obvious, Thursday on First and Third is definitely about crowds.

I haven’t changed my mind about crowds but I must admit the Thursday on First crowd was a friendly, well-fed one in an area with plenty of seating for old guys like me that might want to watch the world go by. More importantly however for the purposes of this blog about rugs, carpets and tapestries, I stumbled across an absolutely fascinating stall entitled Art Andes.


I was feeling a bit disappointed by the time I found Art Andes as I had walked most of the festival without seeing the one thing I’d hoped to see. Oh, there were lots of good things to eat but I’d finished eating before I’d left home (I won’t make that mistake next year!); and any number of stalls displaying beautiful and interesting crafts; but I’d been told by several people that I would have a chance to watch some of the craftsmen at work. Well, so far I’d seen some jugglers, a few portrait painters and a line waiting at a henna stall; not exactly my thing. I’d seen nothing in the way of rugs, carpets and tapestries


And then, along came Art Andes and Peruvian master-weaver Wilbur Quispe!  Actually, Wilbur’s sturdy wooden loom was unoccupied when I stumbled upon it.Peruvian-Tapestry-at-Rochesters-Thursday-On-First-.jpg

Excited by what I’d found, I took the image above and then forged deeper into the stall which was packed with Wilbur’s works. There were several colorful piles of folded tapestries on the tables; the largest and most beautiful tapestries were draped over the stall’s metal skeleton; the air was warmly permeated with the clean scent of naturally dyed wool. A treasure room…

Melanie Ebertz from her FB Photo

Melanie Ebertz from her
FB Photo

Wilbur might have been away from his loom but he had wisely left his treasure with a fiercely protective guardian,  Melanie Ebertz of ArtAndes.Com (No, she’s not a dragon; that’s her smiling up at us from a pile of Peruvian wool yarn). Ms Ebertz has been traveling to Peru for many years searching out the best Peruvian weavers and products. Wilbur, as you might imagine, is one of her most successful finds. If you can’t make it to Thursday on First you can still look at the many beautiful tapestries and rugs that she has found while in Peru on her website, ArtAndes.Com or even better, at her storeroom in Minneapolis.


Besides looking after things, Ms Ebertz proved an informative guide through the wonders of the stall, pointing out significant details on the hanging tapestries that I would otherwise have overlooked in my ignorance of Peru and its people. Inspecting the wooden loom, she informed me that Wilbur Quispe threaded the weft by hand rather than with a shuttle, and the blue-gray on the loom’s batton (see image) was from the rich lanolin content of the wool that stained his fingers before he drew down the batton.

A few moments later  Wilbur Quispe appeared outside the stall, and slipping behind his loom took up where he’d left off. Ms Ebertz introduced me to him and he honored me by taking a moment  from his creating something beautiful to shake my hand. A great way to end my first visit to Rochester Minnesota’s Thursday on First and Third…