She is the one who kills again. La rematadora.
You know in bullfighting that the matador is the one who kills the bull. In fine hat weaving, the re-matador is the one who re-kills the hat, finishes it again.
The weaver finished the hat. Now the rematador must finish it again.
When a weaver finishes a hat, the hat is far from finished.
Five more artisans make valuable contributions to the creation of each hat.
The first of the five is the rematador, or rematadora if a woman.
When weavers “finish” hats, the hats have four to six inches of loose straw fringe all around the brim (right) . This is how Montecristi hats look when the rematadora receives them.
The rematadora uses a specialized weave, called the back weave.
The straw is literally turned back toward the crown (above) and woven into a loose band around the outer edge of the brim.
Some of my hats have the edges woven by the rematadora above. Some by the rematadora shown below. At the time of this writing (February 2007) there are six rematadoras. These six weave the backweave for all Montecristi hats being produced now.
To take hats to the rematadora above, you have to be in good health. Her house is up a hill. A steep hill. A seriously steep hill. A driveway is out of the question. We parked below and hiked up. Goats mocked us for even attempting the climb. Chickens bet amongst themselves whether or not we would die.
We made it to the house. Someone was huffing and puffing so hard I feared he might blow the house down. That was me.
We realized we weren’t really to the house yet. We still had to climb some steps. Steep steps. Thank goodness I had brought all 50 pounds of the photo gear.
Legs firm as overcooked pasta, I persevered up the steps. Being a Panama Hatter is not all sugar cakes and lollipops, you know.
The completed back weave is like a bound edge to keep the hat from unraveling. It is very important to the overall quality of the hat.
Notice how she has separated the straws into upper and lower rows. (right and below)
The more finely woven the hat is, the more finely woven the back weave must be. Finer hats take longer to weave, take longer to back weave.
Next, we’ll watch the azocador tighten the back weave into a strong, tight edge band. Next Page