Known to Mayan weavers as Jaspe, Ikat weaving (pronounced ee-kat) has remained a traditional craft in Guatemala from Pre-Colombian times to the present day. Guatemalan Jaspe textiles are commonly woven on a back-strap loom. This process includes sticks, rope, and a strap that is worn around the weaver’s waist, hence the term ‘back-strap’. Guatemala is also one of few countries that have developed a warp Ikat; a process with only the warp (vertical) threads wrapped and dyed.
Ikat is a type of weaving where the warp, weft or both are tie-dyed before weaving, to create designs on the finished fabric. Great care must be taken in tying resist areas with water repellent material such as bicycle inner tube strips or plastic thread. The precision of the wrapping determines the clarity of the design. After wrapping, the warp threads are dyed. When finished and unwrapped, the areas under the ties have stayed the original color. Numerous colors can be added after additional wrappings. Great care must be taken in putting the warp on the loom, keeping all the threads in position is necessary for the design to work. The natural movement during weaving gives Ikat designs a feathered edge, which characterizes this technique.
Preparing the warp threads before dying. The weaver wraps "ties" onto the areas where the dye won't penetrate.
Warp threads after dying. The weaver must now remove all the ties.
After the ties are removed, the dyed threads are ready to be placed on the loom.
Ties can be removed at different times to dip threads in different color dye baths.
Once positioned on the loom, the weaver continues her magic!