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          Front Page




Malaysian Weaver Wows Marketgoers

By Martin Salazar
Journal Northern Bureau
    SANTA FE— The art of Malaysian weaving comes easy for Nancy Ngali, a widow and mother of two who has been painting pictures with strands of thread since the age of 10.
    On Saturday, the 46-year-old dazzled spectators as she showed off her craft at the second annual Santa Fe International Folk Market. Thousands flocked to Museum Hill to see the work of artists from throughout the world.
    The market continues through today.
    While spectators browsed the colorful offerings— everything from paintings and pottery to baskets and embroidery— artists eagerly waited to sell their wares.
    "In the long term, it's to explore new markets for the textiles," said Edric Ong, a Malaysian writer who traveled with Ngali and another artist to the Santa Fe event. If there's no market for the elaborate weavings, there's no point in making them, he said.
    The Malaysian weavings, most of them priced from $50 and $1,000, were selling like hot cakes, said Nancy Gaffner, one of about 500 volunteers staffing the event.
    Dressed in traditional Malaysian garb— including a tall silver headdress, a colorful shawl and a skirt— Ngali sat on a gray pillow and secured one end of her weaving apparatus around her back. She picked up objects that looked like long wooden dowels containing gray and white silk thread and continued weaving her intricate pattern, methodically moving her tools back and forth.
    When completed in about six months, the cloth will be more than two yards long. A similar weaving was priced at $1,000.
    Spectators gathered around her booth to catch a glimpse of the master weaver at work. Many snapped photos.
    "Unbelievable," said Mary Sokol of Denver, who was in Santa Fe on vacation. "I have such respect for the amount of patience it takes. And she has a smile on her face."
    Ong, who has been working with weavers for the last five years, said he was told about the market by the U.N.'s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. UNESCO recently inducted Santa Fe into its international Creative Cities Network. Santa Fe is the first city in the U.S. to hold the title.
    Organizers of the market said attendance for this year's event is looking promising.
    "(Saturday) morning, in the first eight minutes, 1,000 people went through," said Kate Wall Ganz, chairwoman of the market's finance committee. She said she didn't know exactly how many people had come to the market as of Saturday afternoon, but she estimated that the event would draw in more people than last year's 14,000 visitors.