I have always had an appreciation for handwoven textiles. Their meaning goes beyond their use as they have great cultural significance and depth. Each textile is made with patience, tradition and creativity and forever holds the story of the artisan who created it.
When Moacir and I spent 1 month in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, we met with the Tz’utujil Maya women from the Single Mothers Cooperative (Madre Solteras) of San Juan la Laguna. It was here that we learnt about the incredible process of natural dyes, a technique that has been passed down from generation to generation. The women create throws and blankets using this incredible process and the result it absolutely stunning.
Firstly the women collect plants, fruits and vegetables from their local environment, choosing specific ingredients to create certain colours. For example, avocado pits are used to create green dye and cacao is used to create brown dye. They add their chosen ingredients to water that is boiled on a wood fire stove and strain the ingredients once they have their desired colour. They then add organic white cotton to the stove and boil until the threads change to a beautiful hue. They rinse the cotton in a colour fixative solution, so that the colours won’t run, before washing the cotton and drying it in the sun.
The cotton is then separated and strung to a backstrap loom. The women weave 3 to 5 lienzos (panels), depending on the size of the throw or blanket and then hand stitch the panels together. Tassels on the end are hand twisted and knotted, sometimes creating a macrame finish. As each element is created by hand, each individual throw or blanket can take up to or over 1 week to create.
We have limited numbers of our Ikat throws and blankets online, all made by the Single Mothers Coop using this incredible technique. The colours that come from natural dyes are exquisite and can transform any interior.
Thanks so much for reading and stay tuned for our next piece of the week!
Click the link to SHOP Ikat Throws & Blankets
Click the link to LEARN MORE about the Single Mothers Cooperative of San Juan la Laguna