guatemala

{how it's made: guatemalan textiles}

Gertrudis left school at a young age and was sent to sell handcrafts in the local artisan market near her town of Santa Catarina Palopo in Guatemala. She soon learned Spanish, in addition to her native Kaquchikel. For 7 years, she became an expert salesperson, and learned more about the opportunities that speaking Spanish could bring her. She now weaves her own pieces from home and, due to her access to microcredit loans, she wants to invest in renting a small artisan shop in the local lakeside market.

Weaving in Guatemala has played an integral role in the lives of the over 25 Mayan people groups in Guatemala. The highly intricate designs communicate their personal identity, their heritage, and their ideological beliefs. In pre-Columbian times, only the elite classes could own or wear ornately woven cloth and clothing. Today, weaving has become a cornerstone in the economic survival of both households and villages.

The art of natural dye making has been a long standing tradition in the Lago de Atitlan region. Local leaves, flowers, and bark are boiled, their natural colors extracted, and the yarn is dyed to create an entirely organic process.

Each scarf in our collection is woven using handlooms the women make and the textiles take anywhere from 4-8 hours to create.

Paulina says that three years ago she needed a break, and a microcredit loan offered her an opportunity she had not previously had. The microcredit loan enabled her to buy enough quantity to buy direct when purchasing material for her weavings. This allowed her to keep more of her earnings.She has been able to build up her finished goods inventory so that she can now sell to coops in San Juan. The power of microenterprise! She hopes that her income can continue to provide an education for her daughters and enable them to make a better income than her some day.