A couple of weeks ago we saw Liz Beasley of Ananuca visiting us at the Guild to show us how to do Mapuche weaving. Quite a few of us do weave but this was something quite different.
She started by giving us a brief background to her involvement with it and the people of S. Chile
Some of you might have seen them in action last year at Wonderwool:
I particularly like the handmade looms- they just pop into the forest and cut down suitable branches! Spindles are handmade often with clay, potatoes as the weight as strong yarn is needed for weaving their blankets, rugs and ponchos. They spin sheep’s wool and use plant dyes.
We first warped up our looms- an old picture frame-
Another picture frame-
Two small willow wands were cut to divide the shed-
String heddles were made-
Then the weaving began-
Those of us used to working on rigid heddle looms found that with Mapuche, the weft needed to be pulled tight across the warp in order to create a good pattern. Some of us rigid heddlers started a new weave to achieve a better pattern. Mapuche weaving patterns are warp based. Most of us worked on a simple pattern like the last photo. Some were more adventurous like the first few. Liz showed us some source books with the most intricate designs and like a lot of indigenous peoples, many communities have their own designs. They often tell a story and spiders (natural spinners and weavers!) feature strongly.
Liz gave us a comprehensive set of notes on all the processes of mapuche weaving she had covered in this workshop- warping up,dividing sheds, creating string heddles, preparing the weft, creating a shuttle, weaving using the sheds, creating a fringe and for those who might be more adventurous, How to Build a Mapuche Loom!
Below are just a few pics of Liz’s weaving.
We want to thank Liz for a great session and would recommend anyone to take one of her workshops.