We’re very lucky. Our travels have taken us to many amazing places and we’ve had more than our fair share of great travel experiences. So, who knew that we would have an opportunity to learn about weaving from one of the best in Ecuador? A rare and bittersweet experience, as backstrap loom weaving is quickly becoming an endangered art in Ecuador.
Miguel Andrango warmly greeted us at the entrance to his house and studio in the little village of Agato, outside Otavalo. The studio was light and tidy but also looked like we had stepped back in time. The tools all looked very basic and well used over many years.
Miguel explained the first step: cleaning the wool in the river using a soapy lather made from agave. Fifteen to twenty minutes of pounding on rocks and rinsing was all that was needed. Impurities are removed from the wool.
When he had finished we spent some time in his garden, steps away from his workroom. We gladly accepted his invitation to see finished weavings in the Tahuantinsuyo Workshop. When you’ve met the artist, when you’ve seen what goes into producing a finished product from start to finish, then you appreciate the beautiful weavings even more.
Our friends, Jo and Louise, were with us, and we all knew that this was why we had come to Otavalo! We came to see indigenous crafts and (how lucky for us!) we had met a master. Now we would each find the perfect piece to take home. We knew we would be getting extraordinary works and a remembrance of a very kind and talented man who helped us learn a little about his craft.