Our pieces come to life from our sketch book. A full design can start as a single little motif doodled while lost in a day dream, or painted in full in one of those delicious ah ha moments. Others are inspired by textures; playing with the possibilities in their visual geometry as well as the tactile experience. While we are in our initial stages of design and art, we have to consider what the end piece will be so we can keep in mind what style loom it will be woven on as that can dictate certain design elements. Once the art is perfected and we iron out what type of piece it will be woven into, we create detailed specs for our artisans to follow for flawless execution. Each design is scanned from our sketch book and drawn to scale on the computer in Adobe Illustrator. Exact measurements are taken and marked for each element in the design. Colors are called out. What type of material the piece is to be woven from. Seam allowance for sewing. Weather or not there is a zipper, and where its to be placed if there is. The specs are then sent off to the artisan for weaving and we anxiously await our first sample!
When we say our pieces are 100% handmade we mean 100%. The yarn, weather its alpaca, wool, or cotton, that weaves each of our pieces is completely processed by hand. Once the artisan receives the freshly harvested fiber from their farmers, they clean it by hand removing any dirt, grass, twigs etc that may be in the fiber from living and growing in pasture. Once cleaned the artisans twist the fiber into a continuous thread, or yarn, by using a spinning wheel or drop spindle. The thickness, texture, and quality can vary depending on the type of fiber, what part of the body the fiber was shaved from, what the end use of the yarn will be, and how the fiber is spun.
Next in the process is color. The freshly spun yarn is dyed by hand with all natural dyes. Flowers, leaves, insects, roots, berries, bark, and other organic ingredients grown in nature, are heated in water and the yarn left to soak and absorb the pigment. Each organic matter gives off its own unique color, you can get varying shades of each depending on how long you soak the yarn, what else you might combine it with, and how the dye is prepared before added to the water, like crushing it up vs whole. Of course sheep and alpaca’s come in many different colors. Most of the neutral colors of fiber such as grey’s, backs, and browns, are not even dyed at all they are used as is from the animal, it doesn’t get more natural than that!
Once the yarn is dry it is ready to weave! There are many different types of looms that give different results. The main looms we work with are the pedal loom and shuttle loom. Flat woven pieces such as our Mija and Mjio pillows, or our Luz and Ligne rugs, are woven on a pedal loom. Pedal looms lend best to clean straight lines and geometry. While the shuttle loom that our textured pieces are woven on, such as the Lazo rug or Trenza pillow, allows the weaver more control over such textures and the opportunity to use various thickness of yarn. There are the warp yarns, which are the yarns that run up and down on the loom, and the weft yarns, the yarns that run left to right on the loom. The warp yarns are locked into place at the start of each new piece. Usually these yarns are undyed and aren’t really seen when the piece is finished, they act as a kind of structure for the weft yarns to hold to. The weft yarns are passed over and under the warp yarns. The weft are the yarns with the color that will create the design as its woven. In some cases the warp yarns can be made to been seen and used as an added design element, for example our Prado pillows show case this technique. We designed the pillow to intentionally show the warp yarns while using several thickness of yarn creating texture and contrast. Our pieces are woven one at a time making each unique and special. Depending on the size it can take our artisans up to 2 months to complete one piece.