The Pedal Loom in Tablón, Guatemala

Mayan weavers on the pedal loom

This April we traveled to Guatemala to visit the weaving and beading co-ops around Lake Atitlán.  In the highlands around the lake, the weaving center Mujeres Analisadores is comprised of 26 Kaqchikel women who specialize in the pedal loom, back strap loom, and beading.  These artisan techniques are completely manual with no electricity.  They are a special part of preserving the Mayan culture and heritage.  What an incredible experience to be in the same room as these talented women who are leaders in their community.

Here is a closer look.

The Pedal Loom

Mayan woman spinning thread

First, the thread for the warp is spun onto cones.

preparing thread for the warp
preparing thread for the warp
The warp threads are being prepared for the loom.
Mayan Kaqchikel Women Weaving

The setup is a team effort, especially this part. The wooden tool is used temporarily to keep the warp threads organized and untangled before they are run through the aviadura and tied on the loom.

Mayan Kaqchikel Women Weaving

The warp threads are carefully spread through the aviadura.  To save time, threads from previous projects are left to serve as a guide and each thread is tied onto these previous threads.

aviadura on the pedal loom in Guatemala

This part is time consuming and tedious.  Different sizes of the aviaduras can be used to adjust the spread of the warp by changing the amount of threads going through each space.

spinning thread for the weft shuttle Guatemala

Meanwhile, the weft threads are being spun for the shuttle.

wooden shuttle for pedal loom
The shuttle is prepared.
weaving on the pedal loom in Guatemala
The shuttle is like a little boat that sends the weft threads from left to right, all the while operating the warp threads with wooden pedals.  The peine, or comb, presses the weave tightly together.
hand weaving on the pedal loom
Some of our towels have textured stripes or details that are achieved by weaving them by hand rather than sent through with the shuttle.
cotton towel hand woven on the pedal loom
hand woven towel

One the loom.  Off the loom.

Molly Acord with Fair + Simple and head weaver Julia Parr
The weaving demonstration was so helpful for future designs.  They patiently helped me understand this complex process of weaving on a pedal loom.

A special thank you to Danilo Parr for taking many of these images and translating from Kaqchikel to Spanish.  He is the son of Julia, the leader of the co-op. Danilo's heritage and love for his Mayan culture adds such a richness to his photography.  Follow Danilo @photo_like502

See Reels of the Pedal Loom @fairandsimple

The Setup

Instagram Weaving Reels

The Weaving

Woven on the Pedal Loom

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