Tag Archives: natural dyes

Las Sanjuaneras Huipils + More to Come

I was overwhelmed by the beauty of these textiles and overcome by your response in support of this great women’s weaving cooperative from San Juan Colorado. Thank you all for your incredible support.

This beauty is now SOLD. #5.

SOLD. #5 by Catalina Garcia Nejia. Dyes: wild marigold, mahogany bark. 34″w x 41″ long. $265.

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, mailing address. I will mark it SOLD, send you a PayPal invoice and add $12 for cost of mailing.

The weavers were thrilled we visited last January 2020

And, then there is this one. Blue and gold. Pericone and indigo.

SOLD. #17. by Camerina Cabrera. 21-1/2″ wide x 40″ long. $165 + mailing

Now, I’ve just spent the afternoon packing and mailing all the beautiful huipiles and blusas you bought yesterday. Some of you were disappointed because we sold-out early and fast!

So, I’ve contacted Las Sanjuaneras and I am arranging for another shipment of 16 beautiful textiles to come to me from Oaxaca. These will include more blusas and and a few tunics. The selection, again, is magnificent. I have seen preview pictures and chosen the ones I think you will enjoy most.

A selection of beautiful Las Sanjuaneras textiles — at their village

I’ll give you a heads-up when then arrive. I will need a couple of days to prepare them for posting — with photographs and descriptions.

Thank you for being so wonderfully supportive of Oaxaca and her weaving community. We are all deeply appreciative.

Spinning and cleaning cotton in San Juan Colorado
Meet Patrocinia from Las Sanjuaneras, San Juan Colorado, Oaxaca
This is Margarita, another outstanding Las Sanjuaneras weaver
Weavers Rufina with daughter Aurora and her son

Families depend on the work of women in small, remote weaving villages like San Juan Colorado. Husbands are subsistence farmers who are able to feed their families with beans, corn, squash that they raise in the field. But the produce is no commodified because everyone grows what they need to eat. It is the weaving that can bring in the extra money to the household to pay for school, medicine and health care, an occasional chicken or a fiesta.

In times like these, when there are no tourists to visit or to shop in the Oaxaca city galleries, we are doing what we can to help families sustain themselves.

Bringing Oaxaca Textiles to You: Las Sanjuaneras Cooperative

Oh, dear, I thought. We have a textile tour to visit the cooperatives on the Oaxaca coast this January 2021. What if we don’t get there because of Covid-19? The best I can do now is bring them to us until we know if we hold this tour … or not. I contacted Las Sanjuaneras in San Juan Colorado, a pueblo located in the coastal mountains near Pinotepa Nacional. Why? Because they weave exceptionally fine garments AND they have no Internet presence for online sales — no website, no Instagram, no Facebook. They need our help.

Las Sanjuaneras weaving cooperative

15 Gorgeous Hand-woven, Naturally-Dyed Textiles for Sale

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, garment number, mailing address. I will mark your choice SOLD, send you a PayPal invoice and add $12 for cost of mailing.

So, I contacted Ana Paula Fuentes from the CADA Foundation. She worked with the group in the past. I selected garments from photos she sent via cooperative leader Camerina Cabrera and I prepaid shipping so Las Sanjuaneras would have no out-of-pocket expenses. As soon as the pieces sell, I will send funds to them via Western Union. It’s a win-win for all of us.

SOLD. #2. Maker: Delfina Quiroz. Dyes: nanche, indigo, almond. 38″ wide x 39″ long. $295
SOLD. #4 Maker: Brisaida. Dyes: Indigo and ferrous oxide. 34″w x 41″ long. $295

Here’s some background about Las Sanjuaneras sent by Ana Paula to share with you:

Five weavers started Las San Juaneras in the year 2000 — 20 years ago, in the Mixtec village of San Juan Colorado on Oaxaca’s Costa Chica region where 80% of the women are back-strap loom weavers and spinners. Today, their membership has grown to 16 women. Most are younger, invited by the elders to join them to keep their traditions vibrant, to become stronger, to share ideas, and to encourage and support one another.

SOLD. #5 Maker: Catalina Garcia Nejia. Dyes: wil marigold, mahogany bark. 34″ w x 41″ long. $265

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, garment number, mailing address. I will mark your choice SOLD, send you a PayPal invoice and add $12 for cost of mailing.

#6 by Margarita Nicolas Hernandez. Dyes: guava, wild marigold, Brazil wood, beets, ferrous oxide. 37″ wide x 43″ long. $325

In September 2017, Ana Paula with Maddalena Forcella were invited to collaborate with the group to build their creative competency, design innovation and quality. Their goal was to differentiate their weavings from others in the community and to create a more cohesive team. This included integrating the younger women and developing skills to transform lives in a positive, healthy and sustainable way. The important by-product was to revive and reinforce their traditional techniques and empower the community through shared knowledge.

SOLD. #7 by Delfina Quiroz. Dyes: Brazil wood, mahogany, guava, beet. 34″w x 36″ long. $295.
SOLD. #8 by Delfina Quiroz. Dyes: indigo and nanche. 34″ w x 38″ long. $265.

They dye the native wild cotton that grows in the region themselves using only native plant materials — flowers, fruit, wood bark. They buy coyuchi cotton and the purple shell-dyed (caracol purpura) cotton from others in San Juan Colorado and Pinotepa de Don Luis.

Sold. #9 by Brisaida Garcia. Dyes: indigo & coyuchi. 31″ w x 45″ long. $285.
Indigo-dyed cotton. Las Sanjuaneras. Photo by Ana Paula Fuentes.
#11 by Camerina Cabrera. Dyes: indigo & nanche. 31-1/2″ w x 34″ long. $195.
Sold #13 by Camerina Cabrera. Dyes: indigo & natural cotton. 35″ w x 41″ long. $195
SOLD. #14 by Aurora Nicolas. Dyes: almond bark, indigo. 35″ w x 36″ long. $225

The garments represented here are some of the finest workmanship I am aware of in all of Oaxaca state. I hope you find something you will enjoy collecting and wearing. And, on behalf of the women, thank you for your help and support.

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, garment number, mailing address. I will mark your choice SOLD, send you a PayPal invoice and add $12 for cost of mailing.

SOLD. #15 by Brisaida. Dyes: mahogany, marigold, indigo. 37″ w x 40″ long. $225
SOLD. #16 by Maria Ines. Dyes: mahogany, wild marigold. 36″w x 38″ long. $295.
SOLD. #17 by Camerina Cabrera. Dyes: indigo, wild marigold. 21-1/2″w x 44″ long. $165.

All these garments are made with natural cotton native to the Oaxaca coast. The cotton is cleaned, beaten, and hand-spun using a malacate drop-spindle. Then the threads are dyed in the dye bath before they are put onto the back-strap loom. The process is labor-intensive and painstakingly precise. This is the work of women (and some men are now learning) that goes back centuries, millenia! Most learned to weave starting at age eight. Only a few are masters at spinning.

Las Sanjuaneras weaver. Photo by Ana Paula Fuentes

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, garment number, mailing address. I will mark your choice SOLD, send you a PayPal invoice and add $12 for cost of mailing.

Collector’s Edition: Oaxaca and Chiapas Textile Sale

Today I am offering 9 treasures from my collection for sale. These are pieces I have never or rarely worn. They live in my Durham, NC, closet. Many of you know that I am now walking 8,000 to 10,000 steps at least four times a week and have maintained size small for almost two years. These beautiful clothes are now way too big for me to wear. I’ve decided it is time for these pieces to be with others who appreciate them as much as I do.

To Buy: Send me an email — norma.schafer@icloud.com with your name, address, and item number. I will send you a PayPal invoice to pay with credit card. Please be sure to use the payment optionsending to family and friends.” Once I receive your funds, I will mail via USPS to anywhere in the USA.  I will add on $12 for mailing to the invoice. Thank you VERY much.

#1 Pencil huipil with fuchsine dye, 24-3/4″ wide x 37-1/2″ long, $325

#1 is from the Oaxaca coast in Santiago Ixtlayutla, near Pinotepa de Don Luis. It uses fuchsine dye, which locals call “cochineal” but it isn’t! It actually creates a more purple stain on cotton cloth that then bleeds intentionally into the base fabric. Fine silk thread is woven as the supplementary weft creating the figures in the cotton cloth. It is the silk that takes the dye after the piece is finished. The style is to dye and fold the cloth, soaking it in water so that the dye runs into patterns that are mirrored into the surrounding cloth. Those of us who know these textiles, covet and cherish them. The finishing joinery stitches on this one are very secure and fine.

All fuchsine-dyed garments are rare and collectible!

SOLD. #2. Fine gauze cotton blusa with fuchsine dye, 30″ wide x 27″ long, $245

Notes from Traditional Innovation in Oaxaca Textiles: There is another colour that can be found in several textiles from Oaxaca: fuchsia. The costume of men and women from the Mixtec town of Santiago Ixtayutla use locally-raised silk from San Mateo Peñasco, where silk is dyed with fuchsine, a magenta dye invented in mid-19th century which chemical composition is rosaniline hydrochloride. Since these dyes arrived in Mexico during the second half of the 19th c., weavers started using them: they were quick to use and cheap to obtain.

#3. Fuchsine shawl, 24″ wide x 84″ long including fringes, $285
SOLD. #4. Gauze Blouse from Venustiano Carranza, Chiapas, $145

SOLD. #4 is from the warm, humid coastal region of Venustiano Carranza, Chiapas, where lightweight hand-woven textiles are preferred. This is fine cotton woven on a back-strap loom. The colorful figures uses synthetically-dyed cotton in the supplementary weft. Measures 25″ wide x 25-1/2 long — size L-XL.

SOLD. #5. Olive and Rust Poncho, Chiapas, $165, one size

SOLD. #5 is woven on a back-strap loom in a Chiapas village of medium-weight cotton, hand-tied fringes. The design is incorporated in the weaving using the supplementary weft technique. It is not embroidered!

SOLD. #5, Poncho detail.
SOLD. #6. B&W Poncho, Oxchuc, Chiapas, $185, one-size

SOLD. #6 is a medium-weight cotton poncho with hot red needle work down the front to join the two pieces of cloth together. This is an unusual piece because of the texture of two different weaving styles used in the cloth (it does not have a seam). The front of the piece is shorter, hanging hip length and the back hangs longer to cover the rear!

SOLD. #6. B&W poncho detail.
SOLD. #7. Simply Beautiful Alderwood Dyed Poncho, $295, one size

SOLD. #7 was purchased from Remigio Mestas’ Oaxaca city shop Los Baules de Juana Cata. He is cited as a top authority on Oaxaca textiles, and offers only the finest woven and naturally dyed fabrics for sale, created by the best weavers. The dye is called Palo de Aguila, which translates to Alderwood, and is found in the Sierra Mixe of Oaxaca.

SOLD. #7 Alderwood-dyed poncho detail.
SOLD. #8 Indigo + Purple Snail Dye Oaxaca Blusa, 26-1/2″wide x 28-1/2″long, $285

SOLD. #8 is from the back-strap loom weaving village of Pinotepa de Don Luis. There is a very fine young weaver there named Sebastiana Guzman Hernandez. She was educated and worked as an engineer but preferred to weave and rescue her family’s indigenous traditions. I purchased this huipil from her workshop studio in the village. She dyes the indigo and buys the caracol purpura threads from the few local dyers who collect the rare purple snail dye from the Oaxaca coast.

SOLD. #9. Embroidered blouse, Chiapas, 21″ wide x 29″ long, $95

SOLD. #9 is a slinky blouse, machine embroidery on polyester, with see-through eyelet detail from Zinacantan, Chiapas. It is not hemmed because traditional women will tuck this inside their wrap-around skirts.

#9 Eyelet and embroidery detail.

Felices Fiestas: Happy Holidays from the Heart of Mexico

I’m smitten with this story about women who weave and use natural dyes under the shadow of Orizaba in the state of Veracruz, just over the border from northern Oaxaca state. It is a testimony to ancient wisdom, the grandmothers, folklore, cultural preservation and the strength of women to remember and to make and to teach it to the next generation. It is a tribute to everyone in Mexico who works hard and under extreme circumstances, to create the wonderful textiles that we love.

See the Video on my Facebook page or watch it HERE (below).

Tlakimilolli: Voices from the Loom from APM-ColMich on Vimeo.

This is a long video, almost 30 minutes. I encourage you to watch it. Then make a gift to ensure support the immigrants who are mistreated in the USA, by choosing one or several of these organizations.

If you have a favorite Not-for-Profit USA 501 C 3 that helps Mexican immigrants in the USA or helps textile weavers in Mexico, please feel free to share a link in the comments, with a reason why you support them. Thank you!

And, please remember, when you make a purchase of a textile that is made by hand, you are helping to support individuals, families, villages, communities and cultures to do more than survive, to thrive and continue their traditions.

Felices Fiestas con abrazos fuertes from Oaxaca, Mexico.

Cultural Continuity and Sustainability in Oaxaca’s Tlacolula Valley

I thought it was important for the North Carolina State University Study Abroad students to spend an overnight in an indigenous Zapotec village while they were here in Oaxaca. So, I recommended to Professor Ricardo Hernandez that we include a stay in Teotitlan del Valle as as part of our itinerary.

Teotitlan del Valle church sits atop Zapotec temple, archeological site

The students were here in Oaxaca — the valley and the coast — to study sustainability. Through the experience they learned that the definition is wide-ranging and far-reaching. It has to do with the land and her people, traditions and beliefs, values and practices. It is economic and social and political. It is still small scale agriculture here where farmers use age-old practices rather than technology.

It is instructive to study cultures where people have been successful for generations by transmitting knowledge as a way of life.

The market experience in Teotitlan del Valle

Afterall, this is the region where corn (maize) was hybridized over 8,000 years ago up the road at Yagul. We talked about Monsanto and GMO, how to overcome hunger and develop crops abundant enough to feed people without sacrificing nutrition. We compared the industrialized agriculture of the USA and the disappearance of family farms, and noticed how things work — and don’t — in Mexico.

Olivia, Alysia and Emory enjoy artisanal hot chocolate

I arranged for them to sleep at two local bed and breakfast inns — Casa Elena and Las Granadas B&B — operated by three generations of women. They ate home-cooked and delicious meals prepared from locally sourced, organic meat and vegetables.

After lunch at El Sabor Zapoteco, Reyna Mendoza treats us to nieves de tuna

Teotitlan del Valle is one of the few villages that still operates a daily market. It is a sight to behold entrepreneurial farmers and vendors who sell native corn, squash, beans, squash blossoms, poultry and meat, and more, plus all the household necessities for a home to operate here.

After indigo dye demonstration, the group gathers for a photo, Galeria Fe y Lola

After the market, we toured the church and noted the carved stones inlaid into its walls. When the Spanish arrived, they razed the Zapotec temple and used the stones to build the church walls. The stucco has been peeled away to reveal this part of the village history. We walked around the back side of the church to see the recently restored archeological site that was the temple foundation.

Grace tries her hand at weaving with Omar, while Alysia is next in line

This is a rug weaving village. There are now about 10,000 people who live here and more than 2,000 looms. Only about a dozen families use natural dyes to color the wool they use. We visited one of them — the home workshop of Galeria Fe y Lola –to see the process and learn about this part of the culture.

In Teotitlan del Valle, the Chavez Santiago family makes red dye from cochineal
Professor Hernandez talks with master weaver Federico “Fe” Chavez Sosa

Student takeaways:

  • It was wonderful to be in the village market and explore it on our own.
  • Meeting 26-year old Omar Chavez Santiago from Galeria Fe y Lola was a testimony to artisan life and pride of workmanship — he is dedicated to continuing his culture. This is refreshing to see.
  • The church offered me a glimpse into the blend of Zapotec and Catholic traditions.
  • There is a reverence for community here that we don’t see at home.
  • Families are close-knit, welcoming to outsiders.
  • Everyone was consistently kind.
  • It was important to see the different ways people earn an income: baking bread, sewing, selling food, services and repair work, doctors and teachers, musicians and weavers — it looks like a self-sustaining community.
  • Walking the back streets of the town gave me a perspective for how people live in rural Mexico.
Watch and listen to Omar Chavez Santiago talk about natural dyes
Guillermo decides to take this one home to Wilson, NC

At Gracias a Dios mezcal palenque in Santiago Matatlan at the far end of the Tlacolula Valley, Emmy Hernandez, the daughter of mezcalero Oscar Hernandez, showed us the artesanal process of making this distilled beverage. Agave is an important native plant and agricultural product in the region. It contributes to Oaxaca’s economy and reputation as a tourist destination. This is also a family business and Emmy is the next generation to sustain it.

Mezcal, not at all like NC moonshine, yet still made by the same process

How many different types of agaves are there? They say over 200 types of agaves exist and 30 are suitable for making mezcal. Espadin is cultivated and easily to reproduce, and therefore, the most sustainable. The wild, or silvestre agaves, have a long growth cycle and are rare. I love cuishe (also spelled cuixe) and tepextate and tobala. For everyone harvested, some growers like Gracias a Dios are planting three to replace them. The wild ones are earthy and take on the flavors of the soil they grow in.

We are accepting reservations for 2020 and 2021 university study abroad programs. It takes about a year to plan this program. Please contact us for a proposal. norma.schafer@icloud.com

Agave in the fermentation vats — oak barrels, just like wine-making
Emmy Hernandez, the next generation to sustain artisanal mezcal