Fiber Arts / Textiles / Weaving

BACKSTRAP WEAVING - We offer one on one backstrap weaving instruction with local indigenous weavers. You can either take the classes in our instructor's home - which is a fabulous opportunity to not only learn to weave, but also to spend time with a Guatemalan family, experiencing indigenous life in a small village, on a day to day basis - or in a courtyard in Antigua.

If you are an experienced weaver, you'll learn centuries-old techniques that you've admired in Guatemalan weavings for years. If you are a novice, we've told our instructors to begin at the beginning, and teach you as they do their young daughters - who begin to weave around the age of 9 years. And for those who want to improve or simply maintain their Spanish language skills -- it's a lot more fun that sitting in a classroom for half a day !! You'll improve your Spanish, just by being around it!!

Our instructors do not speak English, so some basic Spanish is very helpful for this class. However, since weaving is something you learn by demonstration, not by explanation, don't let your lack of Spanish stop you from this great experience. Just don't forget your dictionary!!

We are lucky enough to have had a few of our participants write about their experiences. Annie Sherz and her young daughter Lulu joined Lidia and her family for a fabulous experience. We seem to get a lot of mother daughter pairs -- of all ages !!

"Just thought that I would drop you a quick note and let you know that Day 1 was a ROARING SUCCESS!! :)" Day 2: "Today was also great! Lulu is really so proud of all that she has done and she simply LOVES Sindy! :) " Annie Sherz 2015

*** Click on the link for wonderful pictures and travelogue written by Annie for her Studio Luma website. LEARNING TO WEAVE IN GUATEMALA

Another of our participants, Kennerly Clay (pictured here w Lidia) wrote a story about her experience with us - click here if you'd like to read it. BACKSTRAPPED

I am currently trying to upload a DVD of pictures done by another mother daughter pair, Miriam and Sue Grodberg, who took the weaving lessons in 2014. This link is via Miriam's dropbox account, so I'm not sure if you need your own dropbox account, so we'll see if it works... SUE AND MIM LEARN TO WEAVE

I wanted to thank you again for the wonderful experience I had in Guatemala. The backstrap weaving lessons were exactly what I wanted and they worked out perfectly for me. I had wanted to get to Guatemala for years, but I really didn't want to do the 'tourist' route, so your program seemed an ideal situation for me. The class really turned out well -- thank you again." Louise Young / Yr 2000

Participants taking backstrap weaving may stay with our participants from other workshops - if we have another workshop scheduled for the time you'd like to weave. Then the lessons are part of the larger group experience - you have other like minded folks to stay with, eat with, learn from and join them on all the additional field trips. In that case, transportation to the village, the backstrap loom, threads and additional helpful teaching materials are all included.

However, you may also come down at any time and take one on one weaving lessons from Lidia. Let us know your travel schedule, when you would like to work with Lidia, and we'll go from there.

All of our instructors live in a small village called San Antonia Aguas Caliente or its neighbor Santa Catarina Barahona. Both are well known for their excellent textiles and beautiful huipils and are located just 20 minutes outside Antigua. Our instructors include Elda Lidia Tarton de Santos and along with her sisters Vilma Carmelina, Odilia and daughters Isrealita, Sindy and Jacqueline.


WEAVING, TEXTILES AND CRAFT TOUR ** IKAT IN THE XELA AREA After running our original tour for a few years, we had so many people want a new and different itinerary, that we put together THE SEQUEL. What sets this tour apart is we will learn about, and see in action, the ikat dyeing and weaving process found in the Xela region.

We'll spend a couple of days in lovely and familiar Antigua, but then we'll head to CHICHICASTENANGO, where you'll experience the largest textile market in the world, and then we'll head to more fascinating and remote locations where we'll visit small cooperatives, giving our participants a more intimate look at weaving and its impact on local women's daily lives.

Then we'll continue north to Quetzaltenango (Xela), visiting local cooperatives and ikat weavers and tyers in nearby Salcaja, and then journey to Totonicapan, Nahuala, maybe Zunil, traveling through the beautiful Almolonga valley in the heart of the Mayan highlands.

We can't skip LAKE ATITLAN, even though we've been there before. It is incredibly beautiful and there are plenty more lake villages to explore. What an adventure !!

**It is not necessary to have been on the original tour to join us on this one. It is open to all all appreciators of fine fabrics with an adventuresome spirit.

Click here for more information on July 2017 class


THREADS OF CULTURE: SOUTHWESTERN WEAVING TRADITIONS Join anthropologist Laurie Webster for a tour focusing on the Navajo, Pueblo, and Rio Grande Hispanic weaving traditions. We'll travel throughout the Navajo, Hopi reservations as Laurie introduces you to weavers, traders, and gallery owners in New Mexico and Arizona. You'll explore out-of-the-way trading posts, visit weaving cooperatives and the world famous Hubbell rug auction, and see more Southwestern weavings than you ever knew existed! And to keep it fun, we've added a jeep tour of the Canyon de Chelly, a visit with a spiritual guide and the home of another past participant who lived on the Navajo reservation for many years.

Contemporary Southwestern weaving is the culmination of hundreds of years of cross-cultural interaction and aesthetic development. Archaeological finds of elaborately woven cotton and yucca textiles reveal the beauty and craftsmanship of ancient Pueblo weaving. With the arrival of the Navajos in the Southwest in the 1400s and the Spaniards a century later, Southwestern weaving underwent tremendous change as sheep's wool, introduced from Europe, became the fiber of choice and as weavers of different traditions increasingly influenced each others work.

"Most people know about Navajo weaving, but few are familiar with the beautiful textiles made by Pueblo Indian and Rio Grande Hispanic weavers and almost no one is aware of the thousands of incredible prehistoric textiles that have survived in the Southwest," Laurie says. "As with the Guatemala trips, the textiles are more than just weavings, they are a way of learning about the cultures of the people who made them. The Southwest is a wonderful mosaic of cultures, and we will come to understand a bit of this diversity on this trip," she adds.

Laurie has been with us three times ( 2001 and '04 Original and Sequel tours with Karen, and then to Nebaj with Richard Nelson) in Guatemala. She's pictured here with Karen and Pancho, and since I brought the group to Nebaj, I know for a fact she is a wonderful travel companion. Not to mention really knowledgeable about southwestern textiles !! If you love looking at textiles, learning about textiles, collecting textiles, and meeting weavers, this trip is for you!

Click here for more information on Southwestern USA Tour


WEAVING, TEXTILES AND CRAFT TOUR ** EXPLORING THE VILLAGES OF LAKE ATITLAN This trip we'll focus on learning about and visiting the villages of magical, mystical LAKE ATITLAN. We'll call Santiago Atitlan home base, and from there visit cooperatives in most of the lake's villages, including San Lucas Toliman, Santa Catarina Polopo, San Antonio Polopo and San Juan, San Pedro and San Marcos la Laguna. We'll stay four nites at the lovely POSADA SANTIAGO. Lucky us !!

Richard Nelson offers a unique perspective as our tour leader because he lived in Guatemala, on Lake Atitlan, for many years. He had the incredible experience of living in San Lucas Toliman during the devastating earthquake that shook Guatemala in 1976, and then stayed to help with the recovery effort. So, in addition to his textile expertise, he has many personal stories to share.

Then, of course, there is the pretty fascinating subject of the Mayan calendar's long count end date - winter solstice 2012 - and its implications. So we'll explore that a bit, too. I'm thinking of suggesting a few books to read beforehand to facilitate lively discussions !!

We designed this experience to be a bit more relaxed than our other tours - the original (#1), where we spend most of our time based in Antigua, then the SEQUEL (#2), where our focus is traveling throughout the Quetzalteango (Xela) area, and most recently our new venture into the Ixil Triangle (#4).

A fabulous location but yes, a lot of time on the road. Our returnee folks requested Lakes Villages (#3), in part to simply enjoy the beauty and villages of the lake. However, there is PLENTY to experience and learn, and although it may be difficult to find time to sit by the pool and relax, we'll certainly give it a try!!

Of course we'll still spend a few days in lovely old colonial ANTIGUA. Once the colonial capital of all Central America, it is a delightful, small town with an international ambiance and features spectacular visuals, fabulous shopping (all those textiles!), wonderful outdoor cafes and restaurants, but most importantly, warm-hearted, welcoming people.

**** This learning experience is appropriate for all appreciators of fine fabrics - as well as those who make them.

Click here for more information on Lake Villages workshop



WEAVING, TEXTILES AND CRAFT TOUR ** EXPLORING THE QUICHE MAYA HIGHLANDS Travel with us to the IXIL TRIANGLE,so named because of the three villages - SANTA MARIA NEBAJ, SAN JUAN COTZAL AND CHAJUL SAN GASPAR - surrounded by the Cuchumatanes mountains, located in the heart of the Quiche Mayan highlands. It is an area that was isolated for many years (bad roads!! when I first took a photography workshop in 1996 it took us 2 days driving to get there. Now we arrive in 5 hours) It is an area that was particularly hard hit during the 30 year civil war.

But, it is also one of the most beautiful areas of Guatemala. High mountains, foggy mists, gorgeous high altitude light, green fields, and of course Guatemala's greatest asset, her beautiful people wearing and weaving their traditional, colorful traje. We start out in lovely and familiar ANTIGUA, then pass through Chichicastenango on our way to Nebaj. The mountain views are breathtakingly beautiful !! There we'll take a look at rural weaving coops and communities, helping indigenous weavers support their families with backstrap weaving. You'll begin each day with a short lecture on various aspects of traditional Mayan weaving, its history and status today.

Click here for more information on Nebaj 2018 workshop

Of course, we can't skip incredibly beautiful LAKE ATITLAN. There are always lakeside villages and new projects to explore. So we'll spend a few days there before heading back to ANTIGUA, a delightful small town with an international ambiance and fabulous shopping (all those textiles!), wonderful outdoor cafes and restaurants. But as throughout all of Guatemala, most importantly, warm-hearted, welcoming people. I just can't wait to see what ideas our folks will have now that we've offered this one. (Actually, they suggested Coban. And since I just do what those 3 M's tell me to do, watch for it !!)


WEAVING, TEXTILES AND CRAFT TOUR - Every weaver is familiar with the quality and rich variety of Guatemalan textiles. Join us and travel to various villages in Guatemala, each noted for its distinctive 'huipil' and weaving style. There will be opportunities to weave, but the focus of this workshop is learning, traveling and observing.

We base out of the beautiful old colonial capital of ANTIGUA, with field trips, lectures by local experts, and demonstrations - along with a typical meal with a local family in a nearby village. We also go into Guatemala City for a behind the scenes special tour of Museo Ixchel, Guatemala's ethnic costume museum, as well as some magnificent fabric stores. We also spend time in the western highlands -- the heart of the Mayan indigenous world - and home to spectacularly gorgeous Lake Atitlan. We spend time in Santiago Atitlan and other lake villages, visiting weaver's cooperatives and learning about some of their inspiring community development projects. This tour is appropriate for appreciators of fine fabrics - as well as those who make them.


WEAVING, TEXTILES AND CRAFT TOUR ** EXPLORING COBAN (#5) - I met with Olga Reiche here in Antigua and we've decided to offer a weaving excursion to Coban. Olga Reiche's indigenous mother is from the Coban area. Even though she grew up in Guatemala City, she spent childhood vacations with her grandparents in Coban. Weaving techniques in Coban are just as beautiful and difficult to master as the best of those in the Guatemalan highlands, Olga says. She feels that there is very limited emphasis on this area of Guatemala and she is the perfect person to show it to us. More details to follow.

This workshop is appropriate for all who love the arts and want to combine learning with a rich cultural experience. Join us !!!


NATURAL DYE FOR COTTON AND HARD FIBERS - Ever thought that the old traditional methods of dying fibers had been lost - along with so many other ancient arts?? Nowadays, Guatemalan indigenous weavers buy their factory-made threads at local markets. But you can learn how the Mayans dyed locally grown cotton centuries ago during this unique and exciting hands-on workshop.

You will begin by gathering and learning about local plants, flowers and roots that provide various kinds of colors of dyes. You'll work with the Cochineal (cocus-cacti) which is an insect. Instructor Olga Reiche will demonstrate how to work with three types of dyes: tanine, vat dyes and dyes with mordent. Students will complete a sampler of all the various dyes and fibers they've worked with. Bring rubber gloves or be prepared for an interesting pair of hands at the end of each day!!!


Art Workshops in Guatemala
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