Explorations: Guatemala

Life is all about creating and re-inventing, and any limitations we encounter are often self - imposed.

Before my flight touched down in Guatemala, I had a clear vision of what I thought I would see. The vibrant colors, the flavorful food, the varied terrain and most importantly the textiles.  This, the essential fabric of their lives was the draw for me, and to be an eyewitness to the artisan hands that make them.  I had no idea just how clearer my vision would become until I ventured into the heart of it with Thread Caravan, working one-on-one with the talented women who call Guatemala home.

The aroma of fresh tortillas filled the air as we rode in the back of a pick-up truck along narrow windy roads, from the Solola market in Panajachel to Churacruz.  Our jaunts took us to different ‘cooperativas’ where we were guided through the processes of natural dyeing, fiber spinning and backstrap weaving.  Language barriers quickly dissolved as similarities that only exist in a room full of strong and curious women appeared.  Smiles, gestures and encouraging eye contact were the common threads we used to weave our own communication.

Living in a world that constantly encourages creativity yet makes it readily available through the swipe of your finger on a screen can be conflicting. I’ve spent much time trying to define what being ‘creative’ means for my life. Most everyone is looking for a new idea to top all the rest. Yet, surrounded by these women, creative isn’t an adjective or disclaimer that would ever be used to describe them or their art form.  In this environment the ability to design and create is deeply engrained.  None of them were comparing their abilities, but instead saw it as a way of life.  Talent exuded from their skilled and sometimes callused hands, it extended onto my own hand with a quick correction, when needed, as their touch was a reminder of the new skill I was learning.  The patience and thoughtfulness each woman gave was humbling and inspiring. In return, I gained a new perspective on creating, and how really, to be human is to create.  Life is all about creating and re-inventing, and any limitations we encounter are often self - imposed. During my time with the artisans I completely embraced this philosophy. What resulted was more enlightenment and creativity than I had felt in over a year.

Prior to this trip and experience, I thought I knew and appreciated the amount of work that goes into the arts we witnessed in Guatemala. Now, I've been moved in a way that has given me a new outlook.  Not necessarily different, just my eyes have been opened to a more expansive and better light. To me, this is what it means to truly expand your vision.

Shop the sunglasses from this trip!



This post was written by Sable Massingill of Thread Caravan. You can find out more at www.threadcaravan.com. Photos were taken by Paula Harding. You can find more of her photos at @paulahardingphoto on Instagram.