Studying Fashion Design? Learn how it all began by experiencing the ancient Maya designs techniques on the ground in Guatemala with our Fashion Design Immersion Seminars! Whether traveling alone or with a group of fashion design students - we are here to help facilitate a worthwhile immersion tour that complements your studies. From day trips to weeklong seminars, we are equipped to show you the various techniques of weaving, dyeing and embroidery. Our goal is to create a positive space where designers can learn and share about the traditions of Guatemala. Discover the symbolism and artistry behind Guatemala’s world-renowned textiles.
Learn techniques such as backstrap weaving, pedal looms, hand-embroidery, textile design, natural dyes, cotton spinning first-hand from your own private Maya female artisan teacher. The art of weaving is an ancient tradition that can be traced back for numerous generations in Guatemala. Depictions of women weaving in ancient Mayan artifacts are prevalent and verified by historians. According to Mayan mythology, "Ix Chel" was the goddess of weaving, fertility and childbirth - which is the source of all weaving and the creative process.
Through this immersion process you will gain a deeper understanding of the original process behind designing patterns, dyeing fabric and ultimately creating garments.
What Does the Process Look Like?
Step one for some of our artisan partners is to dye the cotton. Using the natural essence from local plants, bark, vegetables and fruits such as hibiscus flowers, coconut shells, achiote, and avocado trees to obtain the coloring. This artisanal knowledge has been preserved over time and has been passed down from generation to generation.
Prior to weaving, our Maya artisan partners will show you the art of designing textiles and their process of personal expression. A traditional wooden "warper" is called an urdidora, where the female artisan begins her design process. She consciously chooses the amount of thread, which colors to use, in what order to combine them - ultimately to form a pattern of thread for the weaving process. From there, she can place the strings of cotton needed for weaving perfectly before transferring to the loom.
In Guatemala, the traditional back-strap loom uses the weavers body to establish the tension needed to create the woven fabric. As a result, this process is far more physically engaging than it looks. Using their bodies back and forth to tighten and loosen the tension, the weaver's body is practically part of the loom and fabric. Maya women and their bodies are physically and intimately engaged in every moment of a weavings creation. That is what makes each and every weaving so incredibly special.
Now you can experience the entire process firsthand and gain a deeper appreciation for the time and effort that goes into traditional designs.
Meet Your Program Leader: Alyssa Yamamoto
Before founding Hiptipico, Alyssa Yamamoto earned her Master’s from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. She has traveled the world extensively to complete field research and to work with various sustainable development initiatives, one of which brought her to the highlands of Guatemala. Her desire to share handcrafted local goods with the world and to economically support this beautiful community led to the birth of Hiptipico. Today, Alyssa is thrilled to share these gorgeous textiles with socially-minded consumers while supporting her network of artisans partners.