Montecristi hats are world famous, even legendary, because the finest examples of the art are woven of straws (fibres) so thin that the hats are almost weightless and feel more like fine linen than straw.
At this level of fineness, each hat requires three to six months to weave.
Only a very few weavers remain who still practice the rare sorcery that turns straw into cloth, who still have the skill and the patience to weave the very finest Montecristi hats, hats still worthy of the legend.
In November 2015, The Montecristi Foundation, Inc. began a program to certify these Master Weavers of Montecristi hats.
Certification is earned at three different levels of excellence.
Weavers who can weave hats with a Montecristi Cuenta of 30x30 and higher, which are also judged to be well woven.
Certification awarded to Patricia Isabel López López:
Weavers who can weave hats with a Montecristi Cuenta of 40x40 and higher, which are also judged to be well woven.
Certification awarded to Manuel Antonio López López:
Certification awarded to Fausto Emilio López López:
Weavers who can weave hats with a Montecristi Cuenta of 50x50 and higher, which are also judged to be well woven.
Certification awarded to Simón Abel Espinal:
Look at those soccer jerseys and try to guess who sponsors the Pile soccer team.
There are a couple of dozen other weavers who have earned Master Weaver certification.
I have kept records, since 2005, of weavers in Pile and the weave counts of their hats. I have in my business inventory many hats which document that the weavers of those hats qualify for Master Weaver certification.
The Montecristi Foundation, Inc. has invited the Instituto Nacional de Patrimonio Cultural of Ecuador to partner with us in administering and executing this important program.
The Instituto operates a weaving school and workshop in the village of Pile, where virtually all of the Master Weavers live and weave. Weavers in Pile can apply for Master Weaver certification by bringing hats to the Instituto workshop and to “my” school for weave count verification. When both schools agree that the preliminary count qualifies the weaver, then an accurate photographic documentation count would be made. (I’ve donated appropriate photo equipment.)
I will verify the photo weave counts, then make the certificate to be mailed to Montecristi, framed, and presented.
The Master Weaver program will provide a small measure of the respect and recognition that the Master Weavers deserve. It is also hoped that formal certification will help Master Weavers sell their hats more easily, and receive higher prices for them.
Hope Holden worked with me to design the certificates, and she applied the stars, ribbons, and gold seal. Can you believe I found Ecuador flag ribbon?