Friday, May 15, 2009

Ikat (or Jaspe, as the case may be)

In Guatemala, they call it Jaspe.
It is more commonly known as ikat. It refers to a process of tying and dyeing your yarn before you weave it to produce a (hopefully) predictable pattern in the finished piece. Either the warp, weft, or both can be tied and dyed.

I first traveled to Guatemala in 2003 with a group for an "Arts Tour". We saw art! You can't miss it in Guatemala. We saw weaving, wood carving, painting, stone carving, pottery. We visited galleries, people's homes, co-ops and market places.
The tour leader, Joanne Calkins, was curating an exhibit for the Pajaro Valley Art Gallery on Guatemalan art. Our mission was to buy some things for the exhibit. There were 10 women on the tour and we shopped our way all around the highlands. Most of us were artists ourselves; I was the only weaver. When we visited this family in Santiago Atitlan the wife was weaving and the husband, pictured here, was tying yarn to be dyed. When I thoughtlessly blurted out "Oh, I wish I could buy some of that", I was told by our guide that they would be happy to sell it to me. My fellow travelers decided that they should all chip in and buy this for me so that I could weave something for the exhibit.
What pressure! Now I had to do it.
I have never worked with ikat. It didn't come with instructions. No way could I understand how to warp it onto my inkle loom and have the intended pattern reveal itself. No people or cornstalks or anything were going to appear as I wove. Only confetti. I was disappointed and added some yellow glass beads to make it more interesting.

One of these days I am going to go back to Guatemala and take weaving lessons.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful ikat. Many countries have specific ikat with unique designs. Interesting.