Nestled in a quiet, brightly coloured courtyard 2 blocks from the central park in Quetzaltenango, the “Escuela de Tejer” or TRAMA textiles weaving school can be found. Here you can learn to master the ancient art of backstrap weaving from our artisan weavers. Once you have picked up how to weave and completed your project, the process will leave you greatly satisfied that you’ve made a beautiful, personalised textile as a keepsake memory of your time in Guatemala.
A familiar face in our courtyard is Kate Grugan from the United States. Kate has been returning to TRAMA to weave each summer for the last 5 years, and was kind enough to share with us some of her motivations, experiences and her attraction to Xela. This summer she is undertaking a complex embroidered table runner design, but like many of our students she started by weaving a scarf which she “would recommend to anyone”. Kate’s interest in weaving was her catalyst to start travelling, her passion to learn about different weaving methods motivated her to explore the world. Along with Guatemala, she has collected a Peruvian stamp in her passport on her textile odyssey and is now looking east for her next adventure, to explore Asian textiles.
Kate discovered TRAMA online, and believes it is a completely unique weaving school to learn the traditional art of backstrap weaving. The teachers are women who are not only master artisans, but also excellent instructors who give patient and clear explanations of the practice and process, while being encouraging and supportive. Due to her experiences at TRAMA, Guatemala and Xela hold a special place in Kate’s heart. Her respect for the way women craft their fabric has increased alongside her skill level. As she has worked on increasingly difficult designs, her appreciation for the women who can remember the complex, intricate embroidered patterns with no templates, samples or diagrams has soared.
For Kate, one of the unique experiences offered by TRAMAs school is not only the weaving, but seeing the daily life of the women who work with TRAMA, as it gives an authentic cultural insight. The weaving school at TRAMA brings together a variety of travellers from around the world with a common interest in textiles, tradition and culture which ensures a warm, sociable atmosphere in the courtyard. As a teacher, Kate inspires the next generation of weavers and travellers, by showcasing her work in her classroom and office back in the States. She remarked that the visual nature of the textiles had invoked her students to question about the designs and even start to weave with her in their lunch times.
And after 5 years of weaving at TRAMA, Kate says “I still have so much to learn!”
Our weaving school is open 9-5 Mondays to Fridays, just drop in to our shop at 3a Calle, 10-56, Zona 1, Quetzaltenango to start your masterpiece. You will personalise the colours of your project, along with the scale of what you would like to embark on due to your time constraints. Our classes range from a one hour weaving demonstration to making a scarf (approx. 10 hours) or table runner.