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Rug Money
Rug Money

Rug Money

How a Group of Maya Women Changed Their Lives through Art and Innovation


160 Pages, 8.5 x 11

Formats: Trade Paper, Mobipocket, EPUB, PDF

Trade Paper, $29.99 (US $29.99) (CA $39.99)

Publication Date: September 2018

ISBN 9780999051788

Rights: WOR X UK & EUR

Thrums Books (Sep 2018)


eBook Editions Available

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Price: $29.99


An inspiring template for starting a nonprofit business that empowers traditional artisans in developing nations

Recognizing the dire need for more income-generating opportunities for Maya women in Guatemala, an accomplished American textile artist volunteered to teach one rug-hooking class. What follows is a surprising and heartening story about artistry, creative economies, and how access to opportunity truly does change lives. At the heart of Rug Money is the work of artist Mary Anne Wise and her committed team at Multicolores, the rug-hooking nonprofit they formed in Guatemala. In a moving narrative, Mary Anne describes how she created a curriculum for teaching art and design based on her Maya students' needs and abilities, while honoring their culture, and how they later brought their rugs to the famed International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe to much acclaim and successful sales. Rug Money celebrates the extraordinary achievement of Multicolores in creating community, education, and empowerment. While there was no business plan at the outset, the success of Multicolores serves as a model for how to organize and advance a nonprofit while effecting powerful social change.


"This landmark publication is a remarkable testimonial to the power of art to transform lives. The most compelling and unique impact of this project is illuminated through the women's personal narratives, which describe the changes in their self-perception as they became successful artists." —Roxane Shaughnessy, Senior Curator, Textile Museum of Canada

"You might start to read this book out of a passion for textiles in general, or rugs in specific, but you'll finish it because it says so much about how to do some good in this world." —Keith Recker, founder Hand/Eye magazine; Creative Director, International Folk Art Market

"Rug Money is a template, a literal "how to" for social and economic change. And the leading indicator is the education and employment of women. Giving women agency, as Rug Money shows, means great promise for impoverished communities across the globe." —Amy Kaslow,  award-winning journalist and photographer covering at-risk communities, worldwide

"Rug Money provides a stellar example of why entrepreneurial opportunities such as Multicolores can transform individual artisans, their families, and entire communities. Read their story and be inspired." —Jeff Snell, Ph.D, CEO, International Folk Art Market

"Their colourful rugs reflect their culture and experience and are beautiful works of art. Filled with stunning photographs, this book is about people being good to each other, growing and learning, and that is a beautiful thing." —Deanne Fitzpatrick, internationally acclaimed rug-hooking artist and award-winning author

"The book's strength lies in its stunning photos and the personal narratives of 10 women who find self-worth, camaraderie and joy in a sisterhood of artisans." —Christine Brunkhorst, book reviewer, Minneapolis Star Tribune

Author Biography

Mary Anne Wise is a nationally known hooked and woven rug artist and teacher. Responding to the crushing poverty and lack of opportunity for Maya women in Guatemala, she gave a workshop teaching how to make hooked rugs using recycled clothing while drawing from traditional Guatemalan design elements. This single workshop led to the eventual creation of Multicolores, a nonprofit rug hooking cooperative. With her continued support Multicolores has thrived and grown, its artisans receiving international recognition through exhibitions and participation in the International Folk Art Market. Mary Anne currently serves as its Vice President. She is also President and co-founder of Cultural Cloth, a socially responsible business that represents artisans from developing countries, highlighting the value of indigenous textile traditions. Cheryl Conway-Daly spent nearly 20 years as an academic researcher at universities in Northern Ireland and the U.K., focusing on gender and equality. Her interest in working with grassroots organizations that focused on women's empowerment prompted her departure from academics and lead her to Guatemala in 2009. For several years, she partnered with local NGOs whose core missions were to transform women's lives through access to economic opportunity and through developing their leadership skills. Cheryl joined the rug hooking project in 2011 and helped found Multicolores in 2014 where she is the Director of Development. She has an undergraduate degree in economics and a Master's degree in macroeconomics.