La Voz Clama En El Desierto (The Voice Crying In The Desert) is a coffee cooperative in San Juan La Laguna and some of the wives of the coffee farmers have formed an association to help earn an income for their families. They weave textiles and make handcrafts from their weavings. In 2005 Hurrican Stan hurt the coffee farms here in San Juan La Laguna– destroying many of the coffee trees and leaving the families with no harvest and no income– so it is a great benefit for their families that these women weave textiles to sell. This is a fairly new women´s organization, having begun about 2 years ago and we have been working with them for about a year. There are 10 women in the group and they have a small textile store at the coffee cooperative.
Most of their weavings are from naturally dyed cotton yarns. Plants that they use for dyeing the yarn include: sacatinta for a blue color, chilca for a yellow color, Ilamo for a brown dye, bark of the avocado tree for a beige color, carrots for orange, achote for a soft peach color, and apazote for a green color. These are all very soft colors in contrast to the colors of chemical dyes. The process of dyeing the natural yarn takes several days –picking the leaves or plants, boiling in water, dipping the yarn, drying the yarn, etc. If you are ever in San Juan La Laguna I would encourage you to take a tour thru the coffee cooperative because you not only see the coffee farms and trees but also the process of dyeing the yarn and weaving on a backstrap loom. Some of the teenagers of the coffee farmers are learning English so they can give the tour in English although at the moment they will get a translator if you need one.
We purchase hand woven shawls, tablecloths, napkins, table runners and a variety of handcrafts from this women´s group– paying them a fair daily wage. They are proud of their naturally tinted, handwoven textiles. If you are concerned about our enviroment and want to purchase natural gifts that are gentle to our planet when made, then these naturally tinted weavings are perfect. They use all natural cotton thread (hilo) and tint it with the natural dyes then weave with a backstrap loom by hand like their ancestors for hundred of years.
This women´s group is in need of a sewing machine in order to make small handcrafts with their weavings. We are planning to locate a good used machine for them — so email us if you have one that you would like to donate. It would be a dream come true for these women to have one of their own!
This coffee cooperative is named “La Voz Clama En El Desierto” after the patron saint of their town– Saint John (San Juan La Laguna) from the book of the Bible-John 1:23 which says: “I am A VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE DESERT, ‘MAKE STRAIGHT THE WAY OF THE LORD,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”