BackStrap Loom | DanaJo & Co

What is Backstrap Loom Weaving?

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Dana here! Mompreneur with 4 little ones looking to help you level up your business and life through one healthy habit at a time. Check back often for new posts packed with valuable tips and advice.

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Backstrap loom in Guatemala

We are not the artists, we are not the artisans, we have a vision, and a passion to bring ethical fashion to the world of Photography. This is their life, their story… DanaJo&Co is just telling part of it.

Maya weavers date back thousands of years ago, use this very technique to create stunning works of art, that are functional and sustainable. In a world where slow fashion is starting to be the top of people’s minds, you can’t help but be mesmerized when you see this technique in action. Hiptipico, a company located in Panajachel Guatemala, is doing just that… putting this technique and many more at the forefront of fashion and visibility, through ethical tours, and working on the ground advocating for these women and their craft.

BackStrap Loom with Maya Weaver

Now I will be the first to admit my shock when I actually FULLY GRASPED how and what a BackStrap Loom in fact was. If you know me, like truly know me you probably can picture my reaction… UMMM what the what, and that is a board, those are sticks, you’re going to attach that WHERE? I’m going to use my butt for what??? The constant play by play that was going though my mind, in puzzlement. Get your game face on DANA it’s go time!

BackStrap Loom with Maya Weaver

Then it was like magic, it all clicked, it all made sense. This form of art was exactly the kind of serene feeling I get when I pick up my camera, shut my mouth.. open my eyes, think…. and then shoot. It’s therapy in a sense for some, art for others, and for most LIFE or DEATH.

BackStrap Loom with Maya Weaver

When we choose this route for our new Camera Bag company I knew immediately when I came across Hiptipico’s site that they were the direction I needed to go. Alyssa and her team literally take you on a journey, their journey into what life is like, and how these women truly live off what they know.

Let me just start off with BackStrap Loom weaving is HARD! Like OMG my arms were shaking, my butt hurt, and totally don’t even think I would be able to do a whole piece with this technique let alone half of it. My lines were crooked, my fingers kept getting stuck, but Hiptipico weaver Teresa sat there with me, through patience, and a mothers loving touch and guided me and my husband behind the scenes to master the knowledge of this art form. Okay let me rephrase not even close to master but to just understand what goes into creating the beautiful amazing pieces that we will one day source and bring to you.

How long does it take to create a piece through BackStrap Loom?

BackStrap Loom with Maya Weaver
Choosing the colors

A Huipil (wee-pill) can typically take up to 4 months to create. Now this isn’t just the weaving portion of it, the weaver has to gather the thread, choose her pattern ( done so from memory, or looking at a pattern), and then prep the thread, set up the loom… it’s a process. (Read more about life of a Huipil here)

BackStrap Loom with Maya Weaver
Creating the ball

Setting up the Loom – Warp, Weft, and Heddles

Warp-

BackStrap Loom with Maya Weaver

Once the thread colors are chosen, they are wound onto a piece called an Urdidor, or a warping board according to the chosen design.

Weft-

BackStrap Loom with Maya Weaver

See the photo on the left? That long circular rod Joe is holding? This is the shuttle; the horizontal weaving threads are wound onto the shuttle, which will be passed back and forth through the warp of the loom. This leaves a trail of thread that weaves in and out of the vertical thread. These threads could be single, double, or more depending on the thickness of the weaving.

Heddles-

BackStrap Loom with Maya Weaver
BackStrap Loom with Maya Weaver

Okay so this is where I might start loosing some of you… the next step, is what sets up to make the tunnel so the weft threads can pass through. Think of it like this, instead of picking up individual threads to create the over/under pattern, the heddles pick up the threads all in one go.

WEAVING

BackStrap Loom with Maya Weaver

One the loom is set up weaving can begin… WAIT you mean to tell me we haven’t even started yet….. NOPE now we are ready to weave.

BackStrap Loom with Maya Weaver

LET ME TELL you … MUSCLES this is when you use your stinking muscles. I swear it felt like I was going to pull something in half trying to separate the thread to lift the heddle, separating to pass the weft though… and then nothing would happen. I can only compare this to that of childbirth, you know at the end when your pushing and pushing and nothing is happening, then all of a sudden BABY… is here and your insides are now outsides. Okay it’s not TECHNICALLY like that but it’s hard. FULL RESPECT to these women. Like the song is blasting and I’m jamming out to it R-E-S-P-E-C-T. But all random comparisons aside, I can’t help but explain the amount of patience, focus, and discipline that goes into every single piece created through BackStrap Loom.

BackStrap Loom with Maya Weaver