THE TRADITIONAL PROCESS
Storytelling comes to life through the voice of the weaver’s heart and the colorful threads become the words her gifted hands weave!
According to the Mayan spiritual belief, the traditional art of weaving has been passed down by the Maya Goddess of weaving, Ixchel.
This connection between female identity and power has been passed down from generations of grandmothers to generations of daughters and their daughters. The Backstrap Loom, The Treadle Loom, and The Headband Loom are the main tools that assist in weaving the collective story of cultural identity and personal expression embroidered with ancestral skills and wisdom.
PREPARATION OF THE 100% COTTON FIBER
The bulk cotton is beaten clean with two sticks of any seeds or sticks or other impurities. The fiber is then spun by holding a small bundle of prepared cotton in one hand by then twisting it on to a “malacate” or spindle with the other hand.
A “malacate” or spindle is made of a wooden stick with a clay whorl at one pointed end and the plied yarn is then made into ready-to-weave balls.
Predating the arrival of the Conquistadores, weaving with the Backstrap Loom goes back as far as 2500 BC in the many Mayan villages of Guatemala, Peru, as well as many other Central and South American countries. The Maya Backstrap Loom, or the “palito” stick loom, is used for items like the huipiles, perrajes (shawls), fajas (belts), pants or garments that are narrower in width.
The prepared 100% cotton yarn is dyed with different dyes made from various organic materials, such as carrots for orange, hibiscus flower for a rosy pink, “quilete” and avocado leaves for green, and “guayaba or guava” for a deep gold, beets for deep reds and purples. An insect called “cochinilla” or “cochenal” for the bright magenta reds. Also different roots, tree barks or seeds are used for the browns and earth tones.
The prepared cotton can also go on the “madejero” that will wind the thread and ready for weaving.
How the Backstrap Loom works:
The Warp or Urdimbre are the vertical threads held at the end by a rod. A shed rod is placed to hold the crossover of the warp threads; and a “corazón” or first shed rod, is placed which, in combination with the “chocoyo” or heddle rod, changes the position of the threads and opens up the shed.
The Batten is a heavier flat stick that serves to push down the weft or trama, as the horizontal threads are called and is inserted so that the weft thread slides from side to side by means of the bobbin to form the fabric.