Worlds of Weaving- from Scotland to the United States and on to Guatemala

Worlds of Weaving- from Scotland to the United States and on to Guatemala
10/13/2016 Rachel
Weaving feature on Artizan Made

We have a nice representation of weaving techniques and products on Artizan Made, both new and old. When humans figured out how to bind grasses and threads to each other by weaving them, they hit on a game changer that allowed them to shape their world, making it more comfortable and meaningful. Very few tools are needed for basic weaving, but even the simplest forms can show off tremendous skills in design and function. Then, with the development of looms that aid in complex designs, mastery involves years of learning, practice and technical knowledge.

In communities where weaving remains a part of the social fabric, such as Guatemala, these skills are often handed down from parent to child. Those of us living in places where handwork is no longer a common practice seek out guilds and peers who can teach the skills. Part of the challenge all weaving communities face lies in documenting and preserving techniques and patterns that disappear as elders die, taking with them the accumulation of knowledge learned or handed down. We live in an exciting time as contemporary designers partner with indigenous communities and work together to create new opportunities for economic development, preservation, and value. All weavers depend on a market that will support them and it is through education and exposure that buyers choose garments, accessories and home decor items that reflect this investment of time over what was mass-produced in a factory.

I asked our weavers to show us a bit of what they do with one paragraph and a couple of photos. Their contributions open a small window of wonder into the diversity found within the weaving community and here on Artizan Made. Enjoy!


Scotland: Bonny Claith by Cally Booker


Cally Booker Woven Throw

Cally Booker Woven Throw


Weaving is a craft which can be meticulously planned or improvised at the loom, and a combination of these approaches appeals to the different parts of my nature. I am drawn to large-scale designs based on quite simple geometric forms, but their simplicity belies the complex interlacements needed to produce them. I use natural fibres – including wool, silk, linen – and make extensive use of multi-layered warps, so that the interplay of different layers of colour has become a distinctive feature of my work. The work that I create ranges from scarves and cowls through homewares to custom yardage, but I never create two pieces which are exactly the same.


Cally Booker Woven Throw, Detail

Cally Booker Woven Throw, Detail


Cally Booker Woven Throw, On the Loom

Cally Booker Woven Throw, On the Loom


Cally actively promotes weaving in her community by teaching and taking part in demonstrations and festivals. She has information about the looms she uses here.  Cally is selling her work through our Artizan Market. Visit her Artizan Shop.


United States: Shuttle Works Studio by Janice Zindel


Shuttle Works Studio Indigo Handwoven Cowl and Shibori Close-ups

Shuttle Works Studio Indigo Handwoven Cowl and Shibori Close-ups

Weaver Janice Zindel, Shuttle Works Studio, has been exploring the woven shibori technique for the past four years, with an emphasis on one-of-a-kind wearables. She weaves on Swedish Glimakra looms, and works with natural fibers, primarily Swedish cotton. After the works are woven and removed from the loom, they are dyed with indigo, then finished by hand.

Woven shibori looks quite plain on the loom, but after going through the process of woven shibori and dyeing, the results are quite unique.


Janice Zindel - Shuttle Works Studio, Blocks on the Loom

Janice Zindel – Shuttle Works Studio, Blocks on the Loom


Shuttle Works Studio

Shuttle Works Studio


Janice keeps a blog on her website with updates on her work.  She actively engages with the online textile community and is open to commissions.


United States – Lin Bentley Keeling


Lin Bentley Keeling Vista Woven Vessel

Lin Bentley Keeling Vista Woven Vessel

I love fibers. In the past few years, I have been doing some weaving on the loom, but my primary focus for the past 35 years has been coiled vessels. I use tapestry design principles and coiled basketry techniques to create contemporary sculptural pieces using jute and sisal cording for the core, wrapping and stitching around the cord with bundles of fine weaving yarns in an ever growing spiral which becomes a coiled vessel.

Most of the yarns I use for wrapping the core are cotton but I also use wool, wool/silk blends and often use variegated knitting yarns. I use 4 to 6 strands at a time in the needle so that I can blend several colors together and use a figure-8 stitch almost exclusively because it allows the greatest design flexibility in coiled basketry. The figure-8 stitch has two parts: the first wraps around the bare cording, the second wraps in the opposite direction around the row below it. Each row is covered twice and interconnected; the bottom portion of the stitch is all that is visible in the finished piece. I love coiled basketry because I love feeling the fibers in my hands as I work, feeling the shaping and contours of the piece as it grows. In coiled basketry, the surface designs are created simultaneously with the creation of the object and the two dimensional surface design needs to be adapted to the three dimensional shape of the vessel as the piece progresses.

Woven artworks take time and patience and a commitment to a contemplative weaving process in which the piece you’re working on may take weeks or months to complete. But, it has many rewards and those of us who choose this medium, commit to it, in part, because of this slow, contemplative aspect. Fibers have unique reflective qualities and each fiber type reflects light differently, so choosing which fiber to use becomes as important as choosing which color to use. It’s a fun, exciting, challenging process and, each day, I am grateful that I get to explore and stretch myself as an artist while I shape and create my coiled vessels. Each new piece brings new challenges to tackle, new ways to push the coiled basketry art form.


Lin Bentley Keeling Vista - Planning

Lin Bentley Keeling Vista – Planning


Lin Bentley Keeling Vista - in process

Lin Bentley Keeling Vista – in process


Learn more about Lin on her website. She is using our Artizan Market to sell her work: Lin’s Shop.


Guatemala: Mayamam Weavers

MayaMam Weavers Bright Pillows

Mayamam Weavers Bright Pillows

Mayamam Weavers has two different weaving groups, both of which use 100% cotton yarn to create a variety of handwoven products for home, women and men. One group of weavers uses a backstrap loom, the other uses the foot loom.


The backstrap loom has been a traditional way of weaving for thousands of years, not only for the Maya people, but for indigenous peoples around the world. Of course, each culture has created its own designs with its own sense of color. Our weavers create pieces of amazing color combinations with embroidered traditional motifs that evoke their surroundings, culture, and love for beauty. The weaver attaches the loom to her waist with a wide waistband, and attaches the far end of the warp to something as far away as it needs to be for the length of her weaving. Our backstrap weavers weave small products such as wristbands, belts or coasters up to table runners.


MayaMam Weavers Backstrap Weaver

Mayamam Weavers Backstrap Weaver


MayaMam Weavers Backstrap Products

Mayamam Weavers Backstrap Products


The foot loom was brought to Guatemala by the Spanish in the 16th century and pretty much retains its traditional form. In Guatemala, it is primarily men who weave on the foot loom, though more and more women are turning to the foot loom because it is more efficient. Our foot loom weavers weave on harness looms using up to four pedals. This allows them to weave beautiful complex weaves with the loom, in addition to the striking color combinations they weave in their striped plain weaves. Our foot loom weavers weave fabric that is made into aprons, towels, table linens, tote bags and more.  Recently, one of our foot loom weavers has learned to imitate the elaborate embroidery of the backstrap loom on the foot loom, we are excited about the possibilities this offers!


MayaMam Weavers Foot Loom Weaver

Mayamam Weavers Foot Loom Weaver


MayaMam Weavers Foot Loom Products

Mayamam Weavers Foot Loom Products


The Mayamam Weavers sell through their website and through their shop on Etsy.  They have done a great job over the years, expanding their products and working hard at learning web skills and photography. They started out small and keep growing!


As you can see through this small sampling, our members share common ground through their heritage and process, but each has a specific sensibility and their choices of materials, color and design, opens all of us to the wonderful worlds of weaving in new ways. We also have several members who sell vintage woven products. Both contemporary and traditional have been tagged with woven in their profiles, so explore and see what you will find!


Find woven products in our Market!

Weaving Category  Our Market listings either use our cart or link to our member shops.

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