This lovely lady is Irma, one of our newest artisan partners from San Juan La Laguna, Guatemala.
Irma is a 26 year-old single mother of three who supports her family by weaving on a backstrap loom, which is a simple contraption that consists of sticks, rope and a strap that is worn around the weaver’s waist. It’s a traditional Mayan art form that is at least 2000 years old and remains relatively unchanged today. It is a very labor intensive and precise craft and does not lend itself to mass production. Each piece will have its own variations which is the telltale sign of the handmade process.
Irma makes the most beautiful cotton scarves and shawls that are made entirely from cotton yarn that she dyes herself using plants, vegetables, fruit, and INSECTS!
Life is hard in Guatemala, especially for women, who generally don’t receive equal wages for equal work. Irma is part of a fair trade collective of 33 women who not only support each other, they name their own prices, set their own hours, and share their profits. No factories are involved, and there is no boss taking a cut of their profits.
I am so happy to support these independent women and their traditional crafts.