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Where is the Tree in Loom Tree?

Hello again from beautiful Antigua Guatemala! With the summer months soon coming to an end, and autumn fast approaching, many people within the northern hemisphere are preparing for that magical time of year when the trees shed their foliage, and carpet the world in vibrant shades of yellow, orange, and red. In Guatemala however, aka "the land of eternal springtime," we don't get to experience this season; a fact that sometimes makes me miss my homeland of Italy. Perhaps because I miss seeing the trees change I got to thinking about one particular tree we have here in the store, more specifically the actual loom tree of Loom Tree. That's right, "Loom Tree" is not just the name of our store, it is also a reference to an actual tree. In fact, the term "loom tree" is colloquially understood in Guatemala as any tree upon which a weaver has wrapped their backstrap loom onto. If you're a longtime friend of ours you may have already noticed it at the entrance, but if you haven't allow me to introduce it to you: In the far left-hand corner of the zaguan, right before the entrance to the garden, we have a large tree that has been sanded down and treated with varnish. This object has been with us since we started the store in 1996, and today I would like to share the story of this tree with you all.

When I first came to Guatemala in the 1980s I immediately recognized the unique and special heritage of hand weaving that exists in this region. By far the most iconic example of this are the Mayan weavers who utilize the backstrap loom. For those of you who don't know, the backstrap loom is one of the most common types of looms we have here in Central America. Their widespread use is due to the fact that they require little to no equipment. Really all you need are two beams holding the yarn, a strap that holds one of the beams to your waist or back, and finally any vertical object (like a pole, column, or tree) upon which you attach the whole thing. When I started my business in 1996 we did not have the big and complex looms we have today, and thus the majority of our products were made with simple backstrap looms. Hence the inspiration for calling my new business "Árbol del Telar," or "Loom Tree" in English.

When I first opened my store I thought it was a good idea to showcase our handmade process, and so I designated a special spot in my new space to show a backstrap loom in use. In order to make this showcase as authentic as possible, and to have it tie into the name of the store, my husband (who pursued carpentry as a hobby) suggested we get a real tree which he could sand down and polish for me. Therefore, one day we rented a truck and as a family went to a near-by hill to find our tree. This took us a long time as I was adamant that we only take a tree that had already fallen on the ground, but after a while we found the perfect one. We took it home and my husband got to work sanding it down and even carving the words "Loom Tree" into one of its branches. Once it was installed in the store I hung half finished textiles on it, and sometimes even had one of our weavers come in and work directly on it so patrons could see how the process was done. Over the years the tree became a permanent fixture of the store, and it traveled with us as Loom Tree went from a small space in La Fuente commercial center to our current locating on 5th Avenue. Eventually this tree was further cemented into our store's identity by providing us with the inspiration for our logo. For as long as Loom Tree has been in business this beautiful giant has been at the entrance to greet people on their way in.

So there you have it, the story of our namesake and of the great tree that inspired it all. I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into our store's history. As always, we wish you all the very best, and we (and our tree) hope to greet you in Antigua Guatemala again very soon!




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