Guatemala Stories

the workshop story TRAMATEXTILES

6 September 2016
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Read in: French

For the workshop with Trama Textiles in the city of Xela, I wanted everything to go perfectly. I knew I would work with extremely talented craftswomen, so I couldn’t allow myself to go unprepared. I thought of a pattern inspired by the traditional mayan patterns. I chose chevron pattern, symbol of the “feathered serpent”, a mayan god who created the earth according to mayan mythology. I had also wanted to work for some time on a gradient pattern in nuances of blue, a color I have always been fond of. After looking through a bunch of prints and forms of clothing, I arrived at Trama Textiles with my sketches, patterns and patronages.

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One of the hardest mission there was to find the right colored threads to get the color gradient effect I was going for. The challenge was to find good quality thread that would not loose its color after having been washed. I ended up finding what I was looking for in a nearby village, Salcaja, where there were streets full of haberdasheries.

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Then, I had to leave my “baby” in the hands of expert weavers after having discussed the technical details with them. Everything had to be crystal clear because not all of the weavers could read. I had to wait a few days to see the first test results. I was unable to see the weaving process because the women worked in their homes sometimes quite far away. I was, however, invited to one of their houses to confirm the test result before they moved onto the next steps. I went with Amparo’s daughter (Amparo is the head of the association). There, I met the weaver’s mother, Juana Perez Vàsquez.

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First step, huge suspense as I see the work rolled up under her arm. Second step, cold sweat running down as I see the work unfolding before my eyes. Third step, the amazing discovery of a splendid piece of work, meticulously executed with precision and just as I had hoped it to be.
Juana didn’t speak Spanish but “Mam”, the mayan language of her region. So, we agreed on how to proceed with the project and work on the rest of the pieces with the help of a translator.

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I then waited a few more weeks before everything was ready. In total, 5 weavers worked on the project. Even though I had no doubt they were going to do a great job, I was still slightly concerned about the short notice. There’s also the fact that the women here work in difficult conditions, sometimes without electricity. Juana told us that it was difficult for her daughter to work because her eyes hurt and she could only work depending on whether she had enough light or not. Despite all these difficulties, one fine day, upon arriving at the association I found all the fabric ready for use. Yes! Now, let the sewing begin…

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And to see all the final pieces, they’re right here !!

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