A backstrap loom is a traditional weaving tool used by Maya artisans in Guatemala. Moving their bodies back and forth to tighten and loosen the tension, the weaver's body is practically part of the loom and the weaving.
The hand-woven brocade technique is much more difficult than standard needlepoint embroidery. “Tejido a mano" is when the artisan uses a backstrap loom to weave the textile and then embellishes on top with a traditional pattern. The intricate brocade weft is not structurally necessary but undoubtedly aesthetically breathtaking.
This technique is used by our female Tzu'utujil artisan partners in San Juan la Laguna, using purely botanical elements to create an entirely eco-friendly product. The women obtain coloring from local plants, bark, vegetables, and fruits such as hibiscus flowers, coconut shells, achiote, and avocado trees!