We’re so excited to be branching out (get it, like the cacao tree? 😆) to include a new and exciting way to support our partner artisans further. Read on!
I started Kakaw Designs as a way to financially support talented artisans in Guatemala through custom orders, and help continue the beautiful handmade traditions so dear to my heart. This seemed clear to me: more money for beautiful, valuable work, more likely the arts will survive in this ever-changing world. I still believe this.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that artisans are also hungry for new ideas, and ideas can be hard to come by. For rural artisans living in a country where copying is the norm, it’s not easy to “think outside of the box.” This really hit home for me when I was hosting a few weavers from Cobán at my house in Antigua. They started to flip through books I had on Guatemalan textiles, and they were so genuinely delighted to see other work from their own country! You see, Guatemalan textile designs and techniques can vary greatly depending on the region, and they were thrilled to see colors and patterns uncommon in their area.
This is where it gets a little bit complicated as a brand, because while we encourage our artisans to continue building up on these new design ideas, we still need to somewhat protect ourselves as a business. I find myself in an ethical dilemma that I am uncomfortable with, since the end goal is to support the artisans, and being protective of designs created together does not seem to support that.
That’s why I want to encourage more idea exchange. That’s what this Textile Travel for Makers is all about.
We’ll be visiting beautiful parts of Guatemala: towns, villages, families, homes. People I have known for a long time; or rather, people who have known me all my life (through my parents). We love building up on these life-long connections, and we’re ready to add a twist:
We will be hosting workshops to exchange ideas. Of course, there is so much to learn from the traditional artisans: backstrap weaving, dyeing with local plants, making ikat knots, different weaves and embroidery techniques, too. This is all valuable for the participants, and the artisans are so excited to share their crafts. But again, we want our partner artisans to benefit in this idea exchange, too – so we’ll be arranging workshops for the participants to share their creativity with the artisans. Things like different dyeing techniques (think shibori, or wax-resist), or color preferences, new embroidery techniques, or just different products we might use in non-rural settings. These ideas will be for the artisans to use on their own, if they wish. I can’t wait to be sharing different textile traditions from around the world, flipping through books and physical samples… and I hope that you’ll join us.
Let’s have some fun with this. Let’s get our creative juices flowing together, and support rural artisans in a new way – in a bilateral exchange. We want everyone to benefit.
Want to learn more? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We currently have two itineraries, with prices starting at $1800 and possibly even less depending on the final number of participants. I would love to include you in this new adventure.