Originally, vibrant and distinct textile designs were developed in Guatemala to decorate clothing and utility cloth, such as shirts (“huipiles”), skirts (“cortes”), belts (“fajas”), men’s pants (“pantalones”) and heavy panels of cloth (“tzute”) to carry their babies or bundle up on cold nights. Today, those textiles are still being worn but are also used on bags, clutches, pillows, etc. When I find a swatch, piece of clothing or panel of cloth I like, I can then locate where the design is being made and work with local weavers to change the colors and how the design is applied for the modern home.
While many weavers now source their threads from industrial markets, some areas of Guatemala are still using the process of natural dying using local plants, seeds, nuts and other forged materials.
Locally sourced cotton is cleaned, brushed and spun into thread. It is then meticulously strung on to a backstrap loom, which is tied to a post on one end and wrapped around a woman’s waist on the other. Using a series of wood palettes, designs memorized by generations of weavers are woven and brocaded into a “lienzo”, similar to a yard of fabric.