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At the beginning of November, our Buyers and Creative Director went on a week-long trip to Antigua, Guatemala for the Stela 9 artisan residency program. We wanted to get a closer look at the production process of the beautiful textiles and goods that come from Guatemala. Since we purchase a fair amount of merchandise like dog collars, luggage tags, and bags from that region, to see the process from start to finish was very enlightening.
Each day was packed with activities and classes hosted by local artisans who taught us how to embroider, weave, dye with natural indigo, cook traditional food and construct a leather bag. We also took a day to shop the largest market in Central America, Chichicastenango, where we purchased goods directly from the source.
The daily itinerary was pretty dreamy:
Day one: Yoga, breakfast, weaving workshop, lunch, embroidery workshop, dinner in town
Day two: Yoga, breakfast, indigo workshop, lunch, workshop cont., cooking class in San Miguel Escobar
Day three: Yoga, breakfast, leather handbag workshop, lunch, workshop cont., dinner in town
Day four: Leave early for Chichi market, breakfast in Tecpan, Chichi market, private movie screening at an organic farm, farm to table dinner
Day five: Breakfast, Temezcal sweat lodge, lunch, Teysha boot workshop visit, Family dinner with Antigua friends
One of the main takeaways from the trip was how difficult and tedious it was to embroider! They gave us a 12″ square of fabric that had an Otomi design sketched on it. We spent 4 hours working on it and barely made a dent. Someone asked one of the ladies who was teaching the class how long it would take her to finish it, and she said that she makes them regularly and it takes her 2 months while doing them 8 hours every day! The fact that we can purchase these beautiful embroidered pieces under $20, blows us away! We now know not to take these beautiful details for granted and have a deep appreciation for these women who are working to keep their beautiful trade alive.
If you are interested in this program by Stela 9, you can find more information here: http://micasasucasa-guate.com/