Handweaving Process Explained | Vern Clothing August 08 2013
Every item in Vern Clothing’s collection is hand-woven by members of weaving cooperatives or artisans. Most of our items are made with the backstrap loom using an ancient technique that has been practiced for hundreds of years in the Guatemalan highlands. It is a technique that requires lots of skill, patience, and creativity. After hundreds of years of weaving traditions, the women of Guatemala have mastered the art.
The process starts with an idea. The motto of the weavers in Guatemala is ‘todo es posible’ (‘everything is possible’), and we like to think our items reflect that sentiment. It is our mission to try out all the thread and color combinations we can think of to create truly unique and beautiful textiles for our collections.
The first step in the process is to pick out the thread for the textile. The weaving cooperative workshop has hundreds of natural threads, all of different colors, weights, and textures. We pick color combinations based on the type of item we are creating and the “feeling” that we want our customers to get when they set their eyes on that product. We like bright, cheerful, and unique color combinations.
Thread dyeing process in the Guatemalan Highlands
Once the threads are decided on, we prepare the textile on a wooden board, stringing the thread through the posts in a pattern. Depending on the length of the textile, this process can take one or two hours.
Vern Clothing Co-Founder Matthew Kordonowy works on designs for Vern ties
After the pattern has been prepared, the backstrap loom is set up. Setting up the backstrap loom is probably the most complex part of the process. The technique has been passed down through generations of indigenous weavers and from our experience so far, these are the only people that know the process. The video below demonstrates part of the set-up process for the loom. Once the apparatus is set up, the weaver sits in front of the loom and weaves a cross-thread through the textile, alternating threads that go above the cross-thread and ones that go below it. For a three meter long textile (the average length for the backstrap loom), the weaving process takes about 10 hours.
Oralia Chopen prepares the backstrap loom for weaving
Vern Clothing prides itself on knowing the exact origins of its products. Seeing an item go from a simple idea, to a woven textile, to a finished product, is a very gratifying feeling and we hope that you get that same feeling every time you wear a Vern Clothing product.
Items like the Todos Santos Bags, the Quetzal Cosmetic Bags, and the Naturally Dyed Scarves are designed and created completely by the women of the weaving cooperatives that we work with. The styles for these items represent the culture and heritage of these indigenous women. The artisans pride themselves on the uniqueness of each of their items -- no two Todos Santos Bags are alike.
Items like Vern Belts, Ties, and Bowties (all coming soon) are designed by Vern and made by the weavers using the traditional backstrap loom technique.