From Plant to Textile

Extraction of Fibers

The piña fiber comes from the leaves of the native pineapple plant, which grows wild in forests surrounding Puerto Princesa.

The leaf is placed flat on a smooth wooden board. Using the smooth edge of a broken porcelain plate, the surface is scraped from the base to the top of the leaf. This is repeated until the fibers become visible.

The base of the leaf is folded inwards to create a space between the pulp and the fiber. The loosened fibers are then gently extracted from the leaf.

Preparing the Fibers

After the extraction, the fiber is washed in a flowing stream. The fibers are thoroughly washed until other plant material is removed, turning the fiber white and preparing it for drying.

Before the fibers are completely dry, there are whipped to separate the fibers and remove remaining plant tissues. The fibers are then returned to the line to dry completely. The individual fibers are then knotted and coiled into a bun.

Applying the Fibers

In order to prepare the length of fiber that is needed for one piece of cloth, the knotted fibers are arranged on a wheel before they are mounted on a loom. The warped fibers form the vertical portion of a woven fabric.

Preparing the loom for weaving, the weaver then must set the loom by following a process of winding the fibers around a beam and individually inserting fibers into various portions of the loom.

The weaver then proceeds to the wefting process. Wefting refers to the preparation of the horizontal position of the fabric. This is done by spooling fiber on a spindle, also known as the wefting wheel, which is then applied to the shuttle used for weaving.

Finally, the weaver can commence weaving designs into the Tepiña fabric.

Alternating between shuttle throwing between the overlapping layers of fibers and operating the foot pedals, the weaver can weave intricate designs into the fabric. When the warp is used up, the fabric is cut from the loom and is ready to be applied to various applications.