Tag Archives: design

Textile Felt Fashion Designer Teaches Oaxaca Workshop

Maddalena Forcella is an Italian fashion designer who has lived in Mexico most of her adult life. She works in felt and creates beautiful, comfortable clothing that is Art-to-Wear. In the workshop we create the felted nuno cloth and then design garments using indigenous Mexican textile patterns including the quechequemitl, huipil, rebozo and blusa. You can adapt these to your own fit and style!  When? Felt Fashion Workshop, January in Oaxaca, where the sun still shines in winter.  See Maddalena’s work at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca.

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Earrings, a Pendant, Dreams Realized: Sterling Silver Jewelry Workshop

Beryl Simon from Boston, Massachusetts, signed up with us to take a sterling silver jewelry making workshop before she visited Oaxaca.  She wrote:  I love working with silver! I have a passion for jewelry making and design, and would like to expand my skills. I also love the work created in this workshop that I see on-line.  I invited Beryl to write about her experience.

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My recent trip to Oaxaca with my husband was wonderful in every way, but the high point for me was a three-day lost wax sterling silver jewelry workshop with Brigitte Huet and Ivan Campant. My dream was to work hands-on and one-on-one with master craftsmen amidst the color and charm of this beautiful city. And I took away not only the memories and new skills, but also a rather-professional-looking sterling silver pendant and set of earrings that I will treasure forever.

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On Friday morning, Day One of the workshop, I started out by taxi from our city center B&B to their home studio in a nearby residential area.  In my enthusiasm, I arrived a bit early (sorry Brigitte!), but was welcomed with a cup of tea and an introduction to two aging, friendly and adorable dogs.  Then we got to work.

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Lost-wax carving is an ancient and venerable tradition. Brigitte and Ivan showed me techniques that combine both ancient and modern techniques.  It was fascinating. During the first day, I learned to carve a traditional design using simple tools.  I must confess that I have no talent for carving wax! But somehow, Brigitte, with her patience and clear instruction, helped make it work for me. The difficulty of the wax carving process and doing it well made me appreciate even more the talent required to craft one of Brigitte and Ivan’s gorgeous creations.

After a focused morning, we took a break for a delicious lunch, which we bought from a local street vendor.  Brigitte made a tasty agua fresca (fresh fruit and water) drink and the dogs entertained us with some very cute tricks. And then, back to work.

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Day Two, Saturday, was devoted to casting the silver using a hand-sling and a charcoal fire.  I also learned to use a more modern motorized centrifuge.  I doubt there are many places in the world where students can learn this traditional method. Slinging molten silver is exciting but rather scary, and I was glad that Ivan had me practice this skill using water, while he slung the real piece. It was magic plunging the mold into water and pulling out the completed silver “tree.”

When I saw the sterling pendant I created, I was amazed. (I should mention that the cost of the silver is part of the workshop fee, making this a remarkable value.)  Heating the mold for casting takes hours, and during the down time, Brigitte guided me through carving a second wax piece based on my own design. Someday, I hope to finish and cast this piece as well.

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I spent Day Three, Sunday, with master silversmith Ricardo. As a student silversmith, this was a particularly important time for me. Under Ricardo’s guidance I worked entirely hands-on, from melting and recycling silver into sheet and wire, through to a finished and professional-looking pair of traditional-style earrings. In the process I honed my existing skills and learned many new ones, raising my level from beginning silversmith to intermediate level. I doubt that I could have had one-on-one experience like this anywhere else in the world.

What I learned:

  • Melting and pouring silver into forms.
  • Pressing sheet and pulling wire.
  • Learning the correct way to use a saw. I no longer have fear of making complex forms.
  • Practicing techniques for piercing with drill and burr.
  • Creating texture with dapping and stamping.
  • Soldering.
  • Polishing, polishing, polishing.
  • Making simple granulation and filigree. Because I had some experience, Ricardo guided me through this process.

The result:   Beautiful earrings that I love, and skills that I can use forever. Thank you, Brigitte, Ivan and Ricardo, for this wonderful adventure!

Interested in taking this workshop? Email us!

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Felted Fabric Fashion Oaxaca Style

Making felt is one of the oldest forms of fabric known to humankind–a process more than 6,000 years old.   Felt happens when sheep wool is moistened, heated and agitated.  

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For our Felted Fashion Workshop with Jessica de Haas in Oaxaca this week, we used merino wool dyed with natural plant materials — pericone and indigo, and the cochineal insect.   At the end of the week, we had collectively created shawls, scarves, rebozos, wall hangings, pillow covers and enough ideas to feed our creative energy for some time to come. 

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We gathered in the pomegranate tree-shaded courtyard, first to see examples of great garments, including published examples of Jessica’s.  Then, we jumped into two days of preparing sample fabric swatches to experiment with the colors and materials we brought.  Jessica warned us: always make samples first to see how the fabric will look before you make a larger piece.

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On day three, we jumped into tuk-tuks to have lunch at Tierra Antigua Restaurant.  (Can you see five of us packed into that little electric go-cart?)

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Afterward, I commandeered a pick-up truck to take us up the hill to see examples of indigenous clothing made by Arte y Seda.  We were ready to delve into the process of making felted yardage that could become a garment.

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Here in Teotitlan del Valle, people weave with wool every day, but using roving (wool that is not spun) for making felt is not familiar.  Zapotec  women who came into our workspace during the week were fascinated with the process.  I am hoping to give a demonstration of the process to local women later this spring.

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Some who participated were accomplished artists, like Linda Jacque, who paints guitars for famous rock musicians.  Her colorful vision was immediately evident in the pieces she created.

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Most of us were novices or beginners to the felt making process, so the experience was both instructive and fun.

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Working with bubble wrap, soap, water, plastic baggies, and lots of elbow (and sometimes foot) grease, we rolled, pressed, and agitated the wool until it began to felt.  The fibers of the wool move together and interlock.  Our instructor, felt fashion designer Jessica  checked, demonstrated, and encouraged us every step of the way.

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By the end of each day we were ready for a TMM.  Some of us chose to keep going even after dark.

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The local color inspired us!  Oaxaca’s great food gave us sustenance. The camaraderie kept us motivated.  We learned from and supported each other.  It was a fantastic experience.

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We hope you will join us next time!

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Linking Oaxaca Past to Present Through Arts and Design

The New York Times featured Oaxaca as a living example of how to best marry past and present in its June 15, 2013 feature story,  The Past Has a Presence Here written by Edward Rothstein in The Critic’s Notebook in the Times Arts & Design section.  Says Rothstein, “In the museums and gardens of Oaxaca, Mexico, unlike those of the United States, the character of history is unvarnished.”

History converges in Oaxaca, Mexico because her indigenous people have survived for millenia despite conquest, wars, disease, poverty and malnutrition.  The archeological ruins of Monte Alban and Mitla are evidence through extraordinary physical remains of the building and destruction of great civilizations.  Descendants live in the valleys below with language, culture and art intact.  Her food — mole, squash, corn, beans, chiles — are also a living testimony to creativity and adaptation in a harsh land.

Rothstein uses a good part of his “column inches” to discuss the importance and impact of the Ethnobotanical Gardens designed and developed by Alejandro de Avila B.  It is a living centerpiece of Oaxaca’s cultural history — a compendium of native plants that people have and continue to depend on for fiber, natural color, shelter, and beauty.

Oaxaca is rich in tradition that has not died out and is only accessible through memory and museum exhibitions.

He goes on to say, “But how different all of this is from images of the indigenous past north of the border! There are few areas where evidence of ancient state-size power exists (mainly in the 2,000-year-old relics of societies that once thrived along the Ohio, Tennessee and Mississippi Rivers). There are few places where cultural continuity is even remotely clear, and where ancient languages are still widely spoken. Even before colonization, cultures disappeared, leaving behind neither oral traditions nor written records. And forced migrations and centuries of warfare so disrupted native traditions that the past now seems little more than an identity-affirming fantasy.”

I think of the Taos pueblo, the Four Corners in Utah, Arizona, Nevada and Colorado, the dioramas and exhibitions in the Museum of the American Indian,  annual Indiana pow-wows of the Potawatomi to bring far-flung tribal members together, and the painful history of exile, annihilation and reservations.

What do you think of when you read Rothstein’s article?

And, yes, Oaxaca is safe.  I am on an airplane today to Mexico City, then Puebla.  I’ll pick back up on my posts in a few days.

Plus, thanks to friend Leslie Fiske Larson for bringing this NY Times article to my attention! Leslie spent several months volunteering at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca and knows a great pushcart fruit stand right around the corner!  Yummy papaya.

 

Felted Fashion Workshop: Making Wearable Art Oaxaca Style with Wool, Silk and Cotton

For hands-on fun, escape winter and come to Oaxaca from February 2 until February 9, 2013.  Together, during this one-week workshop, we will be immersed in the textile culture of Oaxaca to create naturally-dyed felted fabric combining wool, silk and cotton that can be hand or machine stitched into an indigenous clothing design of your choice.  Our experts, textile and fiber artist-clothing designer Jessica de Haas, from Vancouver, B.C., Canada and Eric Chavez Santiago from Oaxaca, Mexico, will show you how!

 

About Your Instructors

Jessica owns the clothing design company Funk-Shui and is an award-winning, internationally known fiber artist and teacher.  She recently completed an Arquetopia artist residency in Oaxaca, and taught and exhibited at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca.  See her website for bio and designs.

Eric Chavez Santiago, founding director of education at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, is a weaver and natural dye expert.  He has taught natural dyeing techniques  in Oaxaca and at  U.S. universities and museums since 2006.

Our Itinerary

First, working with Eric in his family’s home studio in Teotitlan del Valle, we will dye and over-dye wool roving with natural materials:  cochineal, indigo, wild marigold, pomegranates, nuts and other plants to achieve the colors you will use in your piece(s).  We will learn about mordant processes to fix the dye and dye extraction to create over 10 different colors.  Wool and dye recipes are included!

Then, working with Jessica in the courtyard of our B&B, we will felt our naturally dyed wool fiber on silk or loosely woven cotton or muslin, making a durable and beautiful fabric.  After your fabric is dry, you will have the option to cut and sew it into one of several indigenous Oaxaca styles:  the huipil (tunic), the blusa (blouse), rebozo (shawl), boufanda (scarf) or quechequemitl (cape).  Here is a piece from Jessica’s collection that you might like!

We give you a pattern book to choose your design! Below is a sample pattern for a quechquemitl.

This workshop is for all levels of experience!  You do not have to be an artist to attend.  We welcome beginners who have never worked in hand felting and more advanced fiber artists. This is a perfect residency for students, teachers and artists who may want to explore a different medium, too.

We will provide you with patterns for the basic indigenous designs that can be adjusted to fit.  If you want to contemporize them, we can help you tweak and make minor adjustments. If you have sewing or pattern drafting experience and want to experiment on your own, you are welcome to work on an independent design project after your fabric is made.

We will be based in the weaving village of Teotitlan del Valle where for generations families have been creating wool textiles.  During our time together, we will go on local field trips to meet and talk with weavers who work with natural dyes and weave fabric for wearable art as well as sturdier floor and wall tapestries.  We will see examples of the types of garments that can be created from the felted fabric we make.

Materials to bring (preliminary):

  • silk, loosely woven cotton, and/or muslin—3-4 meters (4.37 yards) minimum
  • beads, sequins, buttons, ribbons, embroidery thread and other embellishments  (we will also have a supply on hand that you can use, too)

Note: The materials listed are sufficient to make one garment. If you wish to prepare more than one piece of dyed felted fabric, you are welcome to bring more materials to dye.  However, it is likely you will only be able to complete one finished piece during the time allotted.

Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC will provide, included in your registration fee:

  • all instruction
  • 7 nights lodging
  • 7 breakfasts
  • 7 dinners
  • all dye materials
  • merino wool roving for one garment
  • pattern booklet
  • dye recipes
  • sewing machine to share, needles, thread
  • selected embellishments

Workshop is limited to 8 participants.

Daily Workshop Schedule:

Arrive Saturday, February 2, Depart Saturday, February 9 — 7 nights, 8 days

  • Day 1, Saturday, February 2, arrive and settle into your bed and breakfast posada in Teotitlan del Valle (we send directions)
  • Day 2, Sunday, February 3, natural dye workshop to prepare wool roving
  • Days 3-5, Monday-Wednesday, February 4-6, make the felted fabric on silk, cotton or muslin
  • Days 6-7, Thursday-Friday, February 7-8, create your pattern, sew and embellish the garment
  • Day 7, Friday, February 8, evening fashion show and reception
  • Day 8, Saturday, February 9, depart
(Preliminary daily schedule subject to modification.  

Workshop Fee:  $1,365 per person shared room and bath, double occupancy. Single occupancy with private bath, add $300.  Most travel programs of this type and length cost more than twice as much!

Options: 

Option 1:  Arrive a day early, on Friday, February 1, and take a Zapotec cooking class on Saturday, February 2 with Reyna Mendoza Ruiz.  Includes one night lodging, breakfast, lunch, cooking class and recipes.  $110 USD each.

Option 2:  Saturday, February 9, guided visit to Yagul and Mitla archeological sites, noted flying shuttle weaver who only works with natural dyes, boutique Mezcal palenque in Matatlan.  Excursion includes transportation, lunch, supper, admissions, and overnight lodging February 9.  $125 per person.

Option 3:  Sunday, February 10, all day excursion guided visit to Tlacolula Market, including apron and rebozo avenues!  Includes transportation, lunch, supper and overnight lodging. $75 per person.

Option 4:  Saturday and Sunday Nights in Oaxaca City.  We will arrange your stay at a lovely Bed and Breakfast in the city where you can explore the shops and dine in great restaurants.  We will provide you with a list of our favorites.  $125 per night per person.

About Our Workshops, Retreats and Programs.  We offer educational programs that are hands-on, fun, culturally sensitive, and offer you an immersion experience.   Our workshop leaders are experts in their field, knowledgeable, have teaching experience and guide you in the learning process.  Our goal is to enhance your knowledge while giving you time to explore and discover.

About Lodging and Accommodations. To keep this trip affordable and accessible, we stay in a local posada operated by three generations of women — grandmother, mother, daughter — all great cooks! The food is all housemade (including the tortillas), safe to eat and delicious.  Vegetarian options are available.

Accommodations are clean and basic.  Shared baths are across the courtyard. (Bring flip-flops and flashlight.)   The base price of the trip includes shared room and bath; single supplement with private bath is available (add $300).   Please indicate your preference.

Your registration fee does NOT include airfare, taxes, admissions to museums and archeological sites, gratuities, liquor/alcoholic beverages, some meals and some transportation.

Deposits, Reservations and Cancellations.  A 50% deposit ($683) is required to guarantee your spot.  The final payment for the balance due (including any supplemental costs) shall be paid by December 15, 2012.  We prefer Payment with PayPal.  We will be happy to send you an invoice.

If cancellation is necessary, please notify us in writing by email.   After December 15, 2012, no refunds are possible; however, we will make every possible effort to fill your reserved space.  Your registration is transferable to a substitute.  If you cancel before December 15, we will refund 50% of your deposit.  We strongly recommend that you take out trip cancellation, baggage, emergency evacuation and medical insurance before you begin your trip, since unforeseen circumstances are possible.

To register or for questions, contact:  normahawthorne@mac.com  I am happy to set up a Skype call with you, too.  Skype name:  Oaxacaculture