Fique

Fique is one of the main materials used by the artisans at Made in Mogotes. It is used to make bags, belts, rugs, jewelry, dolls, home decorations and many other products featured in our Etsy shop.

Below is a blog entry originally posted on Little Colombia Observationist that shows the process of how fique evolves from plant to something pretty.

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 Fique: Fibre for Pretty Things

Spools and spools of fique fiber fill the shelves of Colombia’s artisan shops next to colorful woven bags, shoes, sacks, tapestry and little sombrero key chains.

 Fique: Fibre for Pretty Things

 

 Fique: Fibre for Pretty Things

This material comes from the fique plant which has long green spiky leaves. It’s in the same family as the pineapple plant. When it is grown and strong, the highest leaves are cut. This is repeated as time goes on.

 Fique: Fibre for Pretty Things

 Fique: Fibre for Pretty Things

I was able to watch part of the process – two men extracting the fibre from the leaves using a machine that shreds them. The leaves are pushed in and pulled back out. A loud buzzing sound from the machine fills the air along with the thick smell of the plant.

 Fique: Fibre for Pretty Things

 Fique: Fibre for Pretty Things

The fibre is then gathered, the juice squeezed out and then it’s hauled to the river where it is washed.

 Fique: Fibre for Pretty Things

 Fique: Fibre for Pretty Things

It’s hung out to dry, a sight often seen along the sides of the mountain roads.

 Fique: Fibre for Pretty Things

 Fique: Fibre for Pretty Things

 

At this point, it’s a bit snarly, like matted hair, so it needs a good brushing. This can be done by running it repeatedly through a homemade bed on nails until all the snags are removed.

The fibres are separated and spun around spools using another machine. They are sold on to artisans who weave their products and sell them in local shops and abroad.

 Fique: Fibre for Pretty Things

Depending on its intended use, it can by dyed a multitude of different colors. These women in the photos below were taking part into a fique spooling contest on the weekend of Mogote’s biggest town festival – Corpus Christi.

The woman in this photo below was incredible to watch. She has been working with fique her entire life and was participating in the contest yet she is completely blind.

Santander area of Colombia where I’m staying is one of the areas most famous for their fique artisans. This guy is one of the locals who harvests the plant and sets the process in motion.

 Fique: Fibre for Pretty Things

Fique is a favorite material of the artisans in Mogotes and we sell many of their products on the Made in Mogotes shop. Here are a few examples:

Hope you enjoyed the insiders glance into how these products are made and some of the real people who are involved in their creation. There are plenty of examples available on Etsy.

 

 

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