When I first started to dream of a place where the threads and woven textiles of a country would surprise an entire world with their authenticity, I dreamed of La Casa del Algodón (House of Cotton) in Antigua Guatemala. I always had a clear vision of the kind of product I had to have for La Casa del Algodón and that it had to come from Guatemala, a decision that would attract the best cotton connoisseurs in the country.
My visits to a few communities with some technical experts of the Ministry of Development had proven to be very useful, practical, fun and more than anything, it gave me the profound understanding of the needs of artisan women to show the best of what they knew how to do, something they had learned from infancy: the techniques of the backstrap loom, how to do what is called “foot weaving,” and needlework for doing croché to put the final touches on their pieces.
The cotton, that natural fibre that has caressed us for thousands of years, is the integral piece for the work that these women do and to be able to display and sell their work in the Casa del Algodón in Antigua Guatemala was a the completion of a dream, a treasure to behold.
I have seen many artisans from San Juan la Laguna, a community known for its natural dyes in the famous Lake Atitlán, turn the natural color of crude cotton, into threads of brilliant natural colors made from plants: tobacco, carrots, avocados, pepper, and I have seen them bring together groups of women artisans (who govern themselves) to organize the work needed for the orders that come from the Casa del Algodón.
It would be difficult to expect anything less than the unique and authentic work that these women produce that we have here at the Casa del Algodón after getting to know the authentic existence that these weavers live day in and out, with their textiles, and in a country where the culture is woven into the textiles and is an economic pillar for so many families.