GROUP OF YOUNG MEN WORKING TO PRESERVE ANCESTRAL CRAFTSMANSHIP & EMPOWER THEIR COMMUNITY'S ECONOMY AND YOUTH
Located in the western highlands of Guatemala, Momostenango (Momos for short) has long been known for its handwoven wool garments. However, unable to compete with low priced synthetic alternatives flooding the market, weavers have been leaving their craft behind, looking for work elsewhere.
Byron along with his brother, father and grandfather founded the Jun Batz collective as a way to counter this trend. Preserving traditional craftsmanship and empowering Momos' economy and its youth, the artisans of Jun Batz not only carry on traditional weaving techniques passed on to them through generations but continue to modernize them. And their cause is gaining traction - founded in 2016, the collective has now grown to 17 artisans, ages 14-72.
Using the finest Momos wool and all-natural dyes that they produce themselves, they weave their rugs entirely by hand; (unlike many weavers, they do not use a shuttle, which helps carry the thread). All while continuously experimenting, bringing a fresh perspective to traditional designs and color schemes.
FOURTH GENERATION MASTER WEAVER SPECIALIZING IN THE FALSE BROCADE STYLE OF WEAVING
Fourth generation master weaver, Don Marcello mastered the art of weaving by watching his mother - a gifted weaver herself. Specializing in the ‘falseria’ (Spanish for ‘false brocade’) style of weaving, his work is truly remarkable. So much so that at first glance we thought his textiles were hand embroidered!
As almost all the weavers in Guatemala learn the craft as children, Don Marcello has been passing on the family tradition - teaching the art of weaving to his eldest son, Mario. Weaving on a treadle loom, Don Marcello and Mario bring their multi-dimensional patterns to life by meticulously manipulating 32 of the loom’s shafts. Pedaling with their feet. Passing the shuttle. Selecting the needed shaft by hand. One at a time. The most time consuming and complex of the foot loom weaving styles, the final result steals our heart every time.
MASTER JASPE WEAVER WHO'S BEEN PERFECTING HIS CRAFT SINCE HE WAS A LITTLE BOY
Born and raised in Nahuala, a town 89km west of Guatemala City, Manuel and his family have been producing jaspe (otherwise known as ikat) textiles since he was a little boy.
Having learned the art of ikat and weaving from his father, it has now become a family affair. (Like most artisans in Guatemala, Manuel works out of his home - with his loom set up in the back yard.) While his wife and daughter help prepare the pattern for weaving - expertly binding knots and threads to achieve a desired design when in dye bath, and setting up the loom over a two day period - his son helps him with the weaving. Operating the loom with both his hands and feet, Manuel brings the most delicate ikat patterns to life. The process is slow. The result? Completely worth the wait.
TALENTED BACKSTRAP WEAVER PRODUCING INTRICATE BROCADE WORKS OF ART
The intricate art of backstrap loom weaving dates back thousands of years to Mayan times. And the women of Nahuala have been keeping this traditional craft alive for generations, starting to master weaving as early as at seven years old.
Born to a family of weavers (her father, Manuel, brought our Jaspe designs to life), Alicia is the eldest of three children. A primary school teacher in her village in Nahuala and a talented weaver, she learned the craft from her mother, Maria.
Ornate as the textile works of art she creates are, the loom she works on is very basic. Made up of a few pieces of wood, one end of the loom is wrapped around her back and the other against a column of her house. Creating just the right amount of tension, she expertly embroiders the intricate patterns while simultaneously weaving the base cloth. And the result is anything short of breathtaking, if we may say so ourselves.
ONE OF ALOTENANGO'S GIFTED YOUNG FOOT LOOM WEAVERS, RENOWNED FOR QUALITY OF TEXTILE
Located just miles away from Antigua and nestled between two volcanoes (one of which is active), Alotenango is best known for producing some of the best coffee beans in the world. While not the epicenter of the weaving community, it is where Luis - a gifted young (he’s only 19!) foot loom weaver - resides. Sometimes you find gems in the most unexpected of places.
Taught by his father when he was just a young boy, Luis is known for his skill and accuracy. Watching him work is truly mesmerizing. The near effortless movement of the loom. The methodical passing of the shuttle. The coming together of intricate patterns right before your eyes. When looking to recreate the age-old Jaspe Basura ikat weaving style, working with Luis was a no brainer. And we have to say, we are absolutely in love with the final result.