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Back Strap Loom Weaving has been practiced since pre-Hispanic times. I gave it go in San Cristobal de las Casas, and let’s just say I won’t be quitting my day job anytime soon!
This beautiful tradition and craft has been handed down generations.
Depending on the size and intricacy of the design it can take anywhere from days to months to complete a piece.
It’s a fairly simple process and device but is by no means easy! You are essentially creating a grid pattern of interlocking yarns.
A loom is used to facilitate the weaving process, by providing a means of tensioning.
The artisan usually kneels on the ground to weave. By moving their body, the weaver can control the amount of tension in the warp yarns throughout the weaving process.
- Cotton is threaded onto skeins
- Thread is selected with the patterns and colors of the final textile in mind.
- Once the thread is rolled, the design is painstakingly layered on the uridora, or warp board.
- The artisan establishes the final length and width of the piece. With the blackstrap technique the width is limited so this is usually used for small textiles like belts, bags, table runner, trim etc.
- The warped thread is carefully transferred to the back strap loom.
- One end of the loom is tied to a tree, post, or wall. The other end is wrapped around the back of the artisan (hence blackstrap loom)
- You can increase or decrease tension by rocking forward or backward.
- The entire process and pattern is kept in the memory of the artisan, there are no written patterns or guides used.