MY MERKATA

The Process

Our artisan partners in Guatemala use traditional Mayan techniques & processes that have been passed down generation to generation for hundreds of years. Two featured techniques include natural dyeing, which is extremely complex and can take up to 2 weeks to make one skein of naturally dyed yarn, and backstrap loom, which is the primary technique used by female artisans to weave intricate patterns, fabrics and traditional clothing.

natural dyes

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THE PROCESS 

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STEP 1: SOFTEN COTTON

Use sticks to tap cotton for 20 minutes.

STEP 2: SPIN INTO YARN

Skillfully spin yarn by hand using a spindle made of coffee wood and clay.

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STEP 3: ROLL INTO SKEINS

It takes 15 hours to spin one skein.

 

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STEP 4: CREATE NATURAL DYE

Vegetables, coffee beans, and plants are a few of the ingredients used to make the all natural vibrant colored dyes.

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STEP 5: NATURALLY DYE YARN

Bring dye to a boil and leave the yarn in the pot of dye for 20 minutes

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STEP 6: DRY YARN

Dry yarn in the sun before use in weaving or sewing

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STEP 7: WEAVE OR SEW

All of our artisans use naturally dyed yarn to create their products.

Backstrap weaving

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THE PROCESS 

STEP 1: PEG TABLE

First, the yarn is wound around pegs on a table based on the desired style and pattern of the final product. Different types of peg tables are required for different designs.

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STEP 2: THE BACKSTRAP LOOM

The looms are simple - typically 6-7 rods- often handmade by the weaver

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STEP 3: FIX TO A STABLE POST

The back rod is tied to a tree or post while weaving and the other end has a strap that encircles the waist or backside and the weaver can move back or forward to produce the needed tension.

 

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STEP 4: WRAP AROUND WAIST

The backstrap loom requires the weaver to wear fabric around their waist and kneel or sit on a small stool on the ground while they weave.

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STEP 5: WIDTH VARIES

Guatemalan artisan weavers can weave as narrow as a belt or as large as 24 - 26 inch width, depending on the size of their waist. 

Patterns

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Every pattern is handmade in Guatemala holds historical & cultural significance.

These patterns are traditionally woven and sewn onto huipiles (traditional female blouses). Each huipile can over 100 hours each to create. All huipiles used in our products are made new, specifically for your product - ensuring that the artisan is paid fairly for the 100+ hours of work.

The designs you see here go back generations, representing mountains, waves, family trees, Mayan symbols, cacao shells, butterflies, placenta to celebrate birth, ducks, birds and other animals around Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.

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LAKE ATITLAN INDIGO FABRIC

  • Navy color represents the color of the Lake Atitlan & energy
  • Dotted lines represent corn / Peaks represent mountains / Dips to represent valleys
  • Diamond shape to represent the heart of the lake
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  • Traditional blouse worn by indigenous women in San Pedro Sacatepequez, Guatemala

  • Huipiles are worn daily and certain designs are worn for special occasions, preserving Mayan traditions

TRADITIONAL HUIPIL FABRIC