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Marlen Pacheco | Watay

Handloomed wire and fiber

While some folk artists create a broad range of items in various mediums, Boyaca, Colombia’s Marlen Pacheco is focused on one thing: making some of the most durable and beautiful woven jute rugs available anywhere in the world. Using materials purchased from artisans in the city of Santander, Colombia, Pacheco uses a hand-operated loom to assist in the weaving process, but some techniques—such as finishing a rug’s edges, for example—are accomplished exclusively with needle and thread. Jute, also known as hessian, is a long vegetable-fiber spun into coarse strands that is commonly used to make burlap fabric. These natural fiber rugs are often hand-woven using hessian and other plant fibers, making beautiful organic home decor pieces. There’s a reason these types of floor coverings are so popular. Whether placed in heavy-traffic areas like the dining room and kitchen or in other areas, jute rugs are uniquely durable. Growing up in an area home to generations of fine craftspeople, Pacheco was drawn to woven arts in her childhood.  She learned traditional designs and methods from her mother. Wanting to explore new, more durable fibers, she began working on a type of loom most often associated with the creation of wool rugs. She applied new fibers to this loom, even adding innovative and eye-catching metallic wires. Pacheco has worked as a designer and master weaver for over 25 years, and today her sons Daniel and Juan work with her.