A Stitch in Time

Two Who Trek let the wool get pulled over their eyes

One day at school Two Who Trek and their teachers were talking with other teachers and students when an idea started to take place.  Why not play hockey for a day?  Because there are no ice rinks in Cuenca, we all decided to play hookey instead, head to a neighboring town, and take a tour of place where artisans make woolen products by hand.  We picked a date and decided to rely on public transportation to get there rather than take taxis.

Riding on the public bus system is an event all its own.  Travel light and have lots of change.  For less than $1, you can be transported from the center of old town Cuenca to the outlying towns.  See vendors boarding the bus, selling everything from chocolate bars at 3 for $1, to an organic panacea of uncertain origin for curing most physical maladies.  The vendors give you a sample of their wares as they walk through the bus aisle and give their speech.  If you choose not to buy, politely and firmly return the merchandise when they are at the end of the presentation.

Apart from the small businessmen on the bus, the road from Cuenca to Gualaceo is a lovely way to see the Ecuadorean Sierra.  Amidst the lush vegetation, a large wooden structure with a small sign beckons the observant traveler: Tecnica Ikat Macana.  This is not a factory, but a taller or shop of artisans.

Tecnica Ikat Macana Taller Exterior View

Tecnica Ikat Macana Taller Exterior View

The interior wall of Tecnica Ikat Macana, filled with interesting and unusual stuff.  You could say this wall is a lot of bull.

The interior wall of Tecnica Ikat Macana, filled with interesting and unusual stuff. You could say this wall is a lot of bull.

Inside view of Tecnica Ikat Macana

Inside view of Tecnica Ikat Macana

Gualaceo is world-famous for making apparel and household items using the Ikat Technique.  The name on the sign says it all.  Ikat means tying and Macana is a local word for Gualaceo cloth.

Tying off the loose ends of a weaving project

Tying off the loose ends of a weaving project

Skilled artisans make articles from cloth by following ancestral designs and techniques.  Tools are simple and usually made by the artisans themselves.

Using a handmade machine to make a skein of wool

Using a handmade machine to make a skein of wool

Artisans making handmade woolen objects

Artisans making handmade woolen objects

Demonstrating a weaving technique

Demonstrating a weaving technique

Large rug-making loom in an open-sided shed

Large rug-making loom in an open-sided shed

A weaving loom making what looks to be table runners

A weaving loom making what looks to be table runners

Cloth dyes are made from plants and insects.  The various steps in dyeing and weaving cloth from yarn takes at least two weeks.

Explaining the different ways to make dye in different colors.  Samples of the colors are lying on top of the pottery.

Explaining the different ways to make dye in different colors. Samples of the colors are lying on top of the pottery.

Grinding bugs to make the color indigo

Grinding bugs to make the color indigo

Grinding bugs to make the color for dye

Grinding bugs to make the color for dye

Sitting on the floor and working the loom is uncomfortable and time-consuming.

The weaver becomes part of the machine.  Notice the strap behind her back as she prepares the shuttle to add a thread.

The weaver becomes part of the machine. Notice the strap behind her back as she prepares the shuttle to add a thread.

The result is worth it! Gualaceo cloth edges are tied into knots, typically fringed, and are a unique addition for self or home.  Here are some examples of finished products:

Some of the work done on the big loom

Some of the work done on the big loom

Items for sale in an upstairs room at Tecnica Ikat Macana.  The prices are very reasonable.

Items for sale in an upstairs room at Tecnica Ikat Macana. The prices are very reasonable.

An embroidered shawl for sale at Tecnica Ikat Macana, with an asking price of $30

An embroidered shawl for sale at Tecnica Ikat Macana, with an asking price of $30

Shawls and scarfs for sale at Tecnica Ikat Macana, most with a price of about $25 - $30USD

Shawls and scarfs for sale at Tecnica Ikat Macana, most with a price of about $25 – $30USD

Items for sale at Tecnica Ikat Macana

Items for sale at Tecnica Ikat Macana

Jackets, ponchos, and table cloths for sale at Tecnica Ikat Macana

Jackets, ponchos, and table cloths for sale at Tecnica Ikat Macana

Joe thought this was a pretty neat picture

This shack with yarn drying was in back of the Tecnica Ikat Macana

Sherri's lifestyle guide is surprised with a gift of a shawl that she had liked very much.

Sherri’s lifestyle guide is surprised with a gift of a shawl that she had liked very much.

Here’s a view of the artwork around the property:

A artistic fixture made of pottery

An artistic fixture made of pottery

Pottery artwork at Tecnica Ikat Macana

Pottery artwork at Tecnica Ikat Macana

Pottery artwork at Tecnica Ikat Macana

Pottery artwork at Tecnica Ikat Macana

Pottery artwork at Tecnica Ikat Macana

Pottery artwork at Tecnica Ikat Macana

Finally, if you speak Spanish, here is a tour of the place that we found on YouTube.  (This was not created or filmed by Two Who Trek):

Finally, after a delightful couple hours, we decided to grab a local taxi so that our teachers would be back by the end of their shift.  In Gualaceo, the taxis are four-door pickup trucks because many roads go up mountains and are little more than two-track lanes.  The fee for the four of us to ride back to Cuenca was $20, much more than the $3.40 the return bus trip would cost.  However, the taxi shaved over an hour off the return trip and was much more comfortable.  Plus no one tried to sell us anything!

Estaban in the back of a Gualaceo taxi

Estaban in the back of a Gualaceo taxi

Categories: art, artistic, blog, bus, Cuenca, displays, ecuador, gualaceo, manufacturing, photos, pottery, tallar, taxi, travel, weaving, wool | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Post navigation

Comments are closed.

Powered by WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: