Plant Dye Experiments

It was so great to spend quality time with our partner weavers at Lake Atitlán.  It’s not always that we can afford to have some natural-dye experiment fun…. so this was a nice treat ❤️

I’m still going through the dyeing process pictures, so more on that coming soon.  For now… I’d love to share the results with you!

3 colors Mari

We dyed three Summer Cardigans, handwoven by weavers near Cobán.

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Cardigan 1: Dyed with Pericón and Sacatinta

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Cardigan 2: Dyed with Pericón and Sacatinta, taken out of bath before Cardigan #1

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Cardigan 3: Dyed with Chilca and Sacatinta

There are only 3 of these in the whole wide world, and they are looking for loving homes!  Email me at mari@kakawdesigns.com if interested.  $150 each, free shipping to US.

All 3 colros

XOXO,

Mari

 

Photos by the lovely Kelly from Cardamom Collective.

New Textile Option for Boots!

A couple of weeks ago, we made an announcement to our dear newsletter subscribers that we had select already-made pairs of boots at 50% off.  It was Spring Cleaning time!

<<Hey hey, if you’re not on our email list sign up here>>

I was surprised to see how fast the boots went – it looked like our kind subscribers had been waiting for just such a sale.  We cleared up some room and our friends got some beautiful boots 🙌 Win-win!

Some of the very first ones to go were ones with bright, detailed designs, often of flowers.  The textiles in Guatemala are just so beautiful!  So here is a new design, only 2 pairs available to make with this beautiful huipil from the village of San Antonio Aguas Calientes.  But don’t worry, with the little leftover parts we will be making some gorgeous silver textile necklaces.  We won’t let this piece go to waste!

San Antonio Aguas Calientes peacock

Design your boot: Original Curved or Original Straight?

Why (another) Kickstarter?

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That’s right, we’ve done this before.  We started what is now Kakaw Designs three years ago with a little $2000 Kickstarter project.  It went well, and that’s how we’re here today.

So… Why another Kickstarter project, you ask?

Excellent question!  Here’s why:

As we’ve grown (in three years we’ve expanded from only boots to now shoes, bags, and accessories), we’ve also felt the effects when it comes to stocking and development of new designs.  Every new product takes trial and error to develop, and we now also maintain stock both in Guatemala and the US, for fast-delivery.  This is all great, but it just means more costs associated with growth.

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This all has made it more challenging to work with artisans from step 1, because it means more investment in trial and error.  But that’s the whole reason why we started Kakaw Designs – to work with artisans.  So we want to jump start the production of our newest products specifically focusing on work with women artisans (for weaving and embroidery) by bunching orders together on the Kickstarter platform.  This allows us to skip the stocking investments and go directly to sales – and that means that we can lower our prices.  It’s truly win-win for everyone.

Indigo Footloom Scarves, Kakaw Designs

Partner weavers Irma and Francisca

With that said, we’ve got so many goodies, make sure to take a look!  And even if you’re not looking to buy anything right now, you can help us by spreading the word.  So please share the project with your friends!  ☺️

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Natural Dye Story: Palo de la Vida

Did you know that “Palo de la Vida” literally translates to mean “The Tree of Life”?  It’s soooo poetic and we love it.

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Our partner weavers at the cooperative Corazón del Lago use the bark from this Tree of Life to get the rich chocolate color found in our Hummingbird Collection.  The textiles are naturally-dyed with ikat designs and handwoven on a backstrap loom.  It’s an amazing process, and because no words can really describe the magic, make sure to watch our video.

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The chocolaty brown reminds us so much of Fall… and goes great with the genuine leather we use for our boots and clutches.

And hey, we have some good news: Our Hummingbird Wraps in Palo de la Vida are on sale for $70 right now ☺️ We only have a few at this price, so take advantage for this beautiful scarf season.  Remember, your purchase goes to support these weavers at Lake Atitlán.

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Photo credit: Birds of a Thread

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Cochinilla: learn about this amazing not-so-vegan natural dye.

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Indigo: our go-to absolute favorite color.  Do you know where else you can find this plant dye?

Backstrap vs. Footloom

We started Kakaw Designs focused on supporting the backstrap weaving tradition.  It’s an amazing process, and we especially liked the idea of the women  being able to weave from home or anywhere else they want to – because the simple loom is easy to set up.  And each order is easy to divide among several women to weave separately.

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The process makes much more sense after watching this video:

 

But we’re getting into footloom scarves as well now.  Originally, I was hard-headed and thought that backstrap was the only way.  Turns out, I was so wrong.

We started with footloom because of a special request.  Cardamom Collective wanted to try them out and see what happened.  They came out so beautiful!  That’s when I knew I needed to seriously give footloom textiles a go.

Indigo Footloom Scarves, Kakaw Designs

Special order footloom scarves in Indigo

 

Why the original hesitance?  Well, because it’s not as flexible for the weavers to work with a footloom – the cooperative we work with has only one (which is completely sufficient), so the weavers would have to travel to where the loom is kept in order to weave.  And since not everyone is trained on how to use this bigger, more complicated loom, the work cannot be shared among many weavers as easily as its backstrap counterpart.  Oh, and it’s also more complicated to weave ikat designs, so footloom textile designs are more limited.

I’ve learned that the weavers are happy to take footloom orders.  Irma, left in the above photo, wove the very first batch with the help of other cooperative members for the dyeing, setting up the warp, and finishing the fringes with macrame.

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A footloom is bulkier, but much faster for weaving larger orders.

Right now, we’re reserving these scarves for wholesale orders only.  We’re really loving working on special orders, so if you’d like to collaborate, let us know!  There are so many naturally-dyed colors to choose from… I’d be happy to share them with you.  Send me a note at mari@kakawdesigns.com!

We’ll continue working with the weavers on backstrap textiles too.  So we’re not replacing one thing with the other – we’re just increasing options!

 

XOXO,

Mari

The Maya Outfit Explained by Maya Traditions

We get questions on the different terminology for the traditional pieces of clothing here in Guatemala…. and this post by Maya Traditions explains it very well, with graphics and all!

Here’s just a little bit from the post:

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  1. Hair ribbon (cinta) — These can be worn around the crown of their heads, as depicted, or they can be wrapped around braids. A third style is to wrap the ribbon like a spiral around a low pony tail which is then wrapped around the crown of the head.

  2. Blouse (blusa or huipil) – These can be simple with embroidery of birds or flowers by the neckline, or they can be fully brocade or embroidered. Some styles are embroidered on both the inside and outside so they can be reversible. The number of huipiles a woman owns depends on her economics status.

  3. Sash/belt (faja) — A piece of fabric, utilized as a belt, which wraps around twice and is then tucked in to hold up the piece of fabric which is wrapped into a skirt.

  4. Skirt (corte) — The thick embroidered band around it is called a randa. It is used to connect the two pieces of woven fabric which, because they are woven on a loom only reach a certain width which alone is not wide enough to create the entire skirt.

  5. Shawl (rebozo or tzute) — A multi-purpose fabric used as a shawl or placed atop the head, which can also be used as a bag when transporting large amounts of items to be sold, or a baby on their back.

 

Well, I hope this helps answer some questions you may have had.  Though we’re moving towards using more new textiles rather than repurposing old, right now our products are made still at about 50% used textiles.  Like our Original Boots.  On kakawdesigns.com you can design your own, and part of that means choosing your textile – we hope with this little graphic above you’ll know what piece of textile of traditional textile you are selecting.

 

Make sure to take a look at the full post by Maya Traditions here.

 

XOXO,

Mari

What is indigo?

Our hands-down #1 favorite naturally-dyed color is indigo.  It’s our best-selling color for a reason… it’s so beautiful!

But do you really know what “indigo” is?

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Indigo comes from several plants

Well, indigo is a dye that is derived from plants (there are actually several different ones).  Most commonly, the leaves are used to make the indigo dye, and there are indigo plantations around the world that produce the dyes.  We get our indigo dye from our neighbors in El Salvador, and it comes in powder form as seen in the bowl below.

 

Have you ever seen the indigo dyeing process?  It’s pretty magical because the classic navy blue color sets with exposure to oxygen and light – this means that it takes a moment for the colors to turn blue.  Take a look at this video, at about 7 minutes you can see the transformation of the yarn coming out of the indigo vat:

It’s pure magic!

The cool thing about indigo is also that it can traditionally be found all over the world…. think Japanese kimonos, Indonesian batik, and the beautiful handwoven textiles from Mali.

Japanese Kimonobatikmali indigo

All indigo.  All over the world.  Loved because of the strong dyes that don’t fade easily.  Indigo is also said to repel insects, snakes, and even fire – so wearing something dyed with indigo can come with some really practical benefits, too.

Intrigued? Take a look at this BBC video highlighting an indigo dyers in Nigeria.

It’s no surprise that we are all attracted to this deep blue color.  I wonder if it might even be ingrained in us in an evolutionary way – the way green nature calms humans, maybe the indigo blue has the same effect.

Whatever the reason behind our attraction to indigo… there’s just no beating this classic color.  It’s just a great, go-to staple.  Don’t you think?

Make sure to check out our Hummingbird Collection and our Quetzal Wraps in particular.  The intricate ikat designs made by our partner cooperative of weavers are just beautiful.

Hummingbird Collection by Kakaw Designs

Hummingbird Collection

Quetzal Wrap by Kakaw Designs

Quetzal Wraps – both color options have Indigo

 

XOXO,

 

Mari

 

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