Ikat-Dyed, Foot-Loom Woven Shawls

Only a few small establishments still produce ikat - dyed, foot-loom woven shawls in Moroleon and Uriangato, in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico. Ikat is a dying technique that allows the warp to be selectively colored before it is woven. A shrinking market and competition with industrially woven cloth has forced many weavers to stop their production. The shawls pictured below are 100% cotton.

Here are some of their ikat-dying and weaving techniques:

The top left warp has been knotted and is ready for dying. The top right warp has been dyed and the knots have been removed, leaving undyed white areas. Several different ikat patterns are used. The location of the knots and the position of the warp on the loom determines the pattern. Below the warp are four folded, ikat-dyed, foot-loom woven shawls.

Cotton thread is bought in skeins. It is wound onto spools and bobbins with electric winders.


The warp is wound by hand (several cotton threads at a time) from spools onto a rotating warp frame. An empty spool is replaced with a full one when necessary; the threads are tied together and warping continues. 

Knotted warp is readied for dying. The warp is soaked in water for 20 minutes, then the water is wrung out.
The damp warp is dyed by repeatedly submerging it in a hot dye bath for 20 minutes. Excess dye is removed by twisting a stick that has been inserted in the end of the warp.


The ikat - dyed warp is stretched out to dry.

Ikat threads alternate with solid threads on the loom. Tension is maintained on the ikat thread  by tying them to a heavy rock. If the ikat threads were wrapped onto a separate warp beam, it would not be possible to adjust the individual threads to correctly form the pattern as weaving progresses. The ikat warp (black and white) is above and the plain red warp is below. Knots (white threads) keep the ikat threads from shifting during weaving. 


The warp must be frequently adjusted to assure that the ikat - dyed threads form the correct motif as it is being woven.


For more information, see "The Ikat Rebozos (Shawls) of Central Mexico," in  Shuttle, Spindle, and Dyepot, Fall 2002, 41-48. The photographs and information on this page are from:

Casa Durán
Colón #1
Uriangato, Guanajuato
México C.P. 38980

Telephone from the US:

Rebocería Orozco
Moroleón, Guanajuato
Guadalupe Victoria #16
México C.P. 38980

Telephone from the US:

Artesanía de Rebozos
Abasolo #47
Moroleón, Guanajuato
México C.P. 38980

Telephone from the US:  

Ceramist, Capelo
Ceramist, Angelica Escarcega Rodriguez
Ceramist, José Luis Méndez Ortega
Guevara Ceramics
Tecpatl Ceramics
Cane baskets
Jeweler, Francisco Garcia Guevara
ARTCERA wax figures of Salamanca, Guanajuato
Betancourt Icons of Celaya, Guanajuato
Gobelin tapestry weaving in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato
Papermaker, Margarita Orozco Ramirez, of San Miguel, Guanajuato
Wood carver, Fernando Giron Pantoja, of Apaseo el Alto, Guanajuato

Foot-Loom Weaving in Central Mexico
Backstrap Woven Shawls of Esperanza Valencia Morra of Morelia
Backstrap Weaving School at Santa Maria del Rio, Mexico
Maya Traditions  
Backstrap Weaving in Jacaltenango, Guatemala
Los Leñateros Papermaking, Printmaking, and Book Arts Studio
Haida cedar bark hat maker, Gladys Vandal
Tapestry Crochet 
Shibori in Kyoto, Japan  
Katazome (stencil dying) in Kyoto, Japan
Batik of Java and Bali, Indonesia
Ikat Weaving in Bali

Web page, photographs, and text by Carol Ventura in 2001. Please look at Carol's home page to see more about crafts around the world.