Rayela, thanks for being the first to comment on my page! Yes, I think the new name is a perfect fit! I tried to reply on my page but it said "the comment you are replying to no longer exists". So I am replying here instead...
Rayela is my name in Pashtu, one of the languages spoken in Afghanistan. I had a gallery in Chicago, Dara Tribal Village, with Abdul Wardak of Afghan Tribal Arts (Also a TAFA member). After we closed in 2004, I needed a new name for my solo business and liked how Rayela sounded.
I've made things all of my life and have worked with cultural textiles since 1988. The marriage of all of my interests come together in how crafts and the arts can promote economic development, both for working artists and for distressed communities around the world. So, I am interested in fair trade, recycling, green architecture and much more.
My website is split into two, one side focusing on the things I have made (mostly biodegradable, I sew and fold paper using the candy wrapper technique) and my entrepreneurial efforts. TAFA is one of them and has been a wonderful experience for me. It looks like I hit on a needed niche within the fiber arts community, but it is only as cool as it is because of the sum of its parts, the people it represents.
I grew up in Brazil (1962-1980), went to St. Olaf College in Minnesota (major? Church and State Relations in Brazil. What do you do with that?), lived in Chicago for 20 years, then moved to Paducah, Kentucky in 2005. There is a large and vibrant artist community here and one of my monthly highlights is meeting with my peers, the Paducah Fiber Artists. I spent most of my years in Chicago running retail businesses in Chicago. I loved the diversity there and have friends from every corner of the world. Now I do both online, spending most of my time at home, setting up products for sale and working on building an international fiber arts and textile community. Someday I hope to travel again and do some research on textiles and on how they impact their communities.
I also manage two Etsy shops for two TAFA members: Afghan Tribal Arts and Oshiwa Designs. Afghan Tribal Arts sells textiles and hand carved beads from Afghanistan and Oshiwa is a carving group in Namibia that specializes in textile stamps. The inventory is all housed in my home and shipping can be combined between the three shops.
Oh, and yep! I started TAFA. It was my brainchild, but it has taken off and become a wonderful community, far beyond my expectations! TAFA is a wonderful place, full of eye candy and such a tribute to so many traditions, cultures and history. But, most importantly, each member is a person who contributes in her or his own way, to the preservation of the web that binds us together.
To help preserve textile traditions, to educate the public about the social context of the artists, to empower the people who make them, and to increase market access to small-scale crafters and artists.