Mona is an award-winning Navajo weaver who took the “Best of Weaving” prize at Santa Fe Indian Market in 2009. Whether working in a natural palette or in more vibrant hues, her designs always demonstrate intricate detail and exceptional skill. She patiently taught her daughter, Charlene, how to weave and she sold her first piece at the age of eight to a trading post in Crystal, NM. Charlene prefers working with natural dyes and dyes her own wool by simmering it with onion skins, coffees, and teas.
With such a happy name, how could Navajo weaver Charlene Laughing be anything but warm and ebullient? And so she is. Humble, too. Charlene is from the Laughing family of Crystal, New Mexico. She and her relatives are creative weavers who produce traditional and contemporary Navajo rugs and wall hangings in natural and vegetal colored wool.
Charlene Laughing has been weaving in the Navajo tradition since she was a little girl. At age 8, she sold her first piece to a trading post in Crystal, NM, where she grew up. It took her all summer to complete, and she used the money to buy shoes and clothes for school.
Her mother taught her the patient art of weaving. While many weavers today use commercially dyed wool for their works, Charlene has joined the trend for “slow cooking.” Simmering her wool yarns gently, she uses onion skins for yellows, coffees and teas for browns.
Charlene Laughing and mother Mona at SWIAF 2006A textile by Charlene Laughing. A textile by Charlene Laughing Completing some pieces can take months. Purchasing commercial yarns allows her time to focus on custom dyeing and hand weaving her intricate patterns. Some designs are based on the borderless geometric banded rugs that weavers developed in her community of Crystal during the mid-twentieth century. In other textiles, she experiments with an innovative patchwork of different motifs. And in still others, she returns to designs on blankets and serapes of the nineteenth century and adapts them for her twenty-first century buyers.
In the 32 years she’s spent honing her craft Charlene Laughing has sold works to people throughout the country and the world, to such far-flung places as Germany and Japan.
At the 2009 Southwest Indian Art Fair Charlene was the recipient of two Awards of Excellence, for “Germantown Men’s Wearing Blanket” and “Crystal Rug.” She is represented by Chimayo Trading and Mercantile, Chimayo, New Mexico.
Charlene Laughing will be at Arizona State Museum’s Southwest Indian Art Fair Benefit, March 27 and 28, 2010 at Desert Diamond Casino. Come meet Charlene and more than 100 other Native American artists slated to be on hand to sell their traditional wares.