Mexico - Jipi Japa
Don Manuel gave us a tour of where and how our hats are made. Here is sitting inside a cave. The Panama hats have been made by weaving treated jipi japa plant strands. This has to be done inside a cave as the humidity outside destroys the jipi japa.
The cave is a couple of meters deep below ground and is a cool, dry place with plenty of sunlight shining through.
The quality of the hats depends on how thin the straws are ie. the thinner the straws the better the quality and the longer it takes to make the hat.
Once the hat has been woven together, a shape is decided and the mold for that shape is attached to the hat press. The hat is placed into the bold and set in shape through high temperatures running through the mold.
The hat press is provided to town by the local government for all the artisans to use.