|Finished and waiting for its trip to the spa (washer and dryer)|
I was really looking forward to the textiles of Guatemala – after all, the Maya had been using the local cotton to weave fabrics for thousands of years. Everywhere we went, the local ladies were wearing colourful skirts and hand embroidered blouses. I watched weavers with their backstrap looms using a similar technique to what I had seen in the Andes, but using cotton and sometimes other fibers to make incredibly intricate designs. My problem was what, of the hundreds of choices, to bring home to remember these experiences.
|All the natural dyes being used. Our guide was wearing a traditional corte, and faja (sash) but a modern blouse.|
|At our homestay, we got to wear traditional clothing. Yes, the ladies are tiny.|
|Jen's huipil (blouse) was hand embroidered. My quilt has a few squares that are also hand embroidered, not as beautiful though.|
|A painting showing backstrap weaving|
|My corte and the pillow cushions at the top as well as scarves that I couldn't resist. The pattern on the blue indigo scarf is called volcano(makes sense in the land of volcanoes). In fingerweaving, I'm used to calling this lightening.|
I had heard about the market in Chichicastenango (between Antigua and Lake Atitlan) and we were able to spend a number of hours there as we passed through. Yes, there were tourists, but this is truly a market for local people as well. To my delight, the solution to my “what should I bring home” problem was the patchwork pillow covers made of small squares of different types of weaving. I brought home two covers that gave me almost fifty examples of weaving, some commercially woven, others small bits of hand weaving, and some that even had hand embroidery. Many, if not all, of the squares had been taken from other items and showed the patina of age.
|Selling flowers to worshipers as they enter.|
|The streets of town|
|Much like in South America, cemeteries are fascinating places to explore and we passed family members visiting their relatives.|
|Giving offerings to a traditional shaman for assistance.|
When we returned to Antigua, we discovered the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales. Yes there were touristy souvenirs, but this is mainly the place where locals buy and sell their traditional clothing as well as hand woven items. I had learned that the beautiful hand embroidered shirts cost up to USD 1000 to be made, so many ladies were delighted to buy a second hand one for much less. To my delight, I found a traditional skirt (Corte is the Mayan name) in bright colours of yellow, blue and grey. It was soft from wear and priced very reasonably because this corte was made of commercially woven fabric. The quilter in me thought – here’s the focus fabric and there’s yards of it J.
It was pure luck that I read about the Gypsy Wife quilt pattern when I got home and realized how perfect this would be with my dozens of bits of fabric. I added a couple of other small textiles from my travels through Central America, some of my left over bits from other projects, and some bright solid colour fabrics to complement the woven fabrics. I’ve had an incredible time the last six months using these fabrics, to build the many squares to create this quilt of memories. I thought the final putting together would be complicated and perhaps frustrating, but instead I found myself caught up in the joy of adding just one more piece or one more square and taking one more step toward the final quilt. Here's a few of my favorite squares.
|After washing, not quite as pristine white.|
|This quetzal actually came from Teotihuacan near Mexico city. The fabric is cotton and agave fibers. It fascinated me to learn that there was a connection between Teotihuacan's original inhabitants and Tikal, an important Mayan site in Guatemala.|
|Proof that I climbed to the top of Teotihuacan.|
|This square is called Antigua, probably for the island, but it reminds me of Antigua, Guatemala. It was sewn on my 1951 Singer Featherweight sewing machine, as were a number of other squares.|
|This paper pieced square is called Hibiscus, which is the flower used to make Jamaica (pronounced Ha - my -ka) an incredible drink you could find throughout Central America. My other favorite drink was Horchata.|
|The original light grey definitely took up the green from some fabric in the quilt. It actually helps this square be part of the group.|
|I had started by making the smallest squares, which were safely in bags labeled by size, But when I got to the bigger ones, they hung out on the design wall, pushing me to make the next one. And the next one.|
|Some of the 6 inch squares.|
|First five sections came together one day.|
|Then the last five sections the next.|
|Someone decided to hand embroider some flowers on this fabric.|
|More embroidered bits of fabric|
|The outer border comes from my one attempt at weaving - It fits in with the idea of samples, I think.|
Special thanks to Reyes, our guide, who shared his knowledge and enthusiasm for his two homes (Belize as well as Guatemala) and who gave me my name in the Mayan language which has become an important part of my logo which has signed this quilt. And thank you to Carolyn at Velvet Hand Designs for taking my vague thoughts and creating this incredible logo "travel is my life, home is my anchor".