By Andrea Richard
Lola Cody began weaving at 5 years old, but she didn’t turn the tradition into a career until after marrying in the 1980s. Marriage allowed her financial freedom to pursue her art-making, hand-woven wool rugs that would eventually win her numerous awards as she recently did at the 2017 Santa Fe Indian Market. Cody (Navajo) took home Best of Classification VI in the textiles category at the 96th annual market.
“My mother and grandmother were weavers, so it was always in my home,” she recalls. “I learned by watching them.”
While weaving is a popular tradition across Indian Country, Cody says the process takes patience and what many might not realize is designing intricate patterns takes mathematical skills.
“There’s designs—what is called reaching a pattern. There’ the Tortuga heel, that design came from traders from a long time ago. And then there’s a storm pattern, which comes from the western side of my reservation. I wasn’t raised traditionally; my family didn’t tell me about the mythology,” she says. “And there’s the number count.”
One of the stand-out qualities of her work, not only the complex design patterns, is her process. She raises nearly 40 churro sheep on the Navajo reservation where she lives in Arizona, in which she sources for materials. “I do everything from scratch,” she says.
From raising the sheep to sitting down to weave, Cody says, the entire process can take up to several years to make one rug. She would weave for 14 hours a day, for months to finish a rug.
She has three children, and her daughter Melissa Cody is an emerging weaver, following in her mother’s footsteps. ♦