Tag Archives: studio

Oaxaca Natural Dye Workshop, Day One: Prep to Make 32 Colors

For three days I am immersed in natural dyes with Elsa Sanchez Diaz who teaches our Oaxaca Natural Dye Workshops through Oaxaca Cultural Navigator. We make 32 different colors starting with a base of gray and white natural wool.

Indigo blue shirts are first made with natural manta cotton, then get four dye dips.

Indigo blue shirts are first made with natural manta cotton, then get four dye dips.

The natural plant and vegetable materials we dye with include palo de brazil (Brazilwood), nogal (walnut), cochineal (the red insect found on the prickly pear cactus paddle), caoba (mahogany bark), palo de aguila (alderwood bark),  palo de mora (fustic), pericone (wild marigold), granada (pomegranate) and añil (indigo).

Indigo plant from Oaxaca's coast.

Indigo plant from Oaxaca’s coast.

Using a combination of base dyes and over-dyes, we make color variations of red, purple, orange, pink, yellow, green and blue.  Based on the wool color and number of dips into the dye bath, the color will be light or intense.

Rhiannon uses the mortar and pestle to grind cochineal to a fine powder. Elsa is happy with her results.

Rhiannon uses the mortar and pestle to grind cochineal to a fine powder. Elsa is happy with her results.

For the complete three-day workshop, the first day is mostly preparation of the materials, starting with making the skeins of yarn.  We learn about the history of natural dyes in Mexico, how the pre-Hispanic indigenous people used the dyes, and the symbols of the colors.

(We also offer One and Two-Day Dye Workshops)

Pomegranate seeds and brazilwood for dye baths.

Pomegranate seeds and brazilwood for dye baths.

To understand the entire dye process, Elsa says that it is important to begin with all the basic preparation steps. This is a time-consuming process and to be a natural dyer one must have patience. This is something we learn in Mexico daily.

Mahogany gives a peach color that is stunning.

Mahogany gives a peach color that is stunning and grey when over-dyed with iron.

Natural grey wool and dried cochineal bugs.

Natural grey wool and dried cochineal bugs.

On the street below the rooftop terrace where we work sheltered from the sun at the outdoor dye studio, I hear the sound of a high-pitched whistle. It’s the knife sharpener, Elsa says. Other street sounds signal the coming of the gas man and tortilla vendor.

Pericone or wild marigold dyed on white and grey churro wool

Pericone or wild marigold dyed on white and grey churro wool

Elsa says even when she uses the same recipes, the color will vary slightly each time.  This is handmade, after all! Color intensity depends on the pH of the water, the dryness, age or freshness of the plants and fruits, and the natural shade of the wool. This is chemistry, for sure.

Straining the cochineal dye concentrate to eliminate bug debris

Straining the cochineal dye concentrate to eliminate bug debris

Plus, when there are natural tannic acids in some materials like mahogany, indigo, fustic and pomegranate, the color is stronger.

Fine powder yields the most intensity. More muscle, please!

Fine powder yields the most intensity. More muscle, please!

Day One is a complete introduction to the two most frequently used dyes, pericone and pomegranate, and getting into the mindset of natural dyes, says our participant Rhiannon, a textile and jewelry designer from Canada. But, you don’t have to be experienced or a professional to learn … and have fun with color.

Breaking the tough Brazilwood. Smallest pieces give strongest color.

Breaking the tough Brazilwood. Smallest pieces give strongest color.

Oaxaca Natural Dye Workshop.  We can schedule your experience when you come to Oaxaca.

Indigo dyed wool drying on the rooftop terrace.

Indigo dyed wool drying on the rooftop terrace.

Arte Walk Oaxaca: Graphic Arts + Painting Studios

Thursday nights are Arte Walk Oaxaca. There’s a nice little black and white map that pinpoints the independent art spaces and workshops. My favorites (plus one not listed on the map) are clustered in the neighborhood just a few blocks from the Zocalo, bounded by Hidalgo, Doblado, Xicotencatl and Colon. It’s becoming Oaxaca’s SOHO (south of Hidalgo) arts district.

David, Carol and Gabo in the textured courtyard wall glow

David, Carol and Gabo in the textured courtyard wall glow

While you can find the artists, a coterie of Oaxaca local art lovers spilling out onto the sidewalk outside postage stamp galleries, along with shots of mezcal, beers and bowls of spicy peanuts, Thursdays aren’t the only time to enjoy what Oaxaca is known for: GREAT GRAPHIC ART.

Black and white print at La Chicharra

Black and white print at La Chicharra Taller de Grafica

Most galleries are open Monday through Sunday, though often it’s catch as catch can. As is the case with many small, locally owned and/or operated shops here. Many of the galleries are cooperatives, so they are staffed by rotating volunteer artists who need a venue to show and sell their work directly. THERE IS A LOT OF TALENT HERE.

A subtle wall mural of overlapping faces, faces in the crowd?

A subtle wall mural of overlapping faces, faces in the crowd? Gabo Mendoza studio.

Last night, Friday, Gabriel Gabo Mendoza (tel: 951-142-7508) held an open studio where he lives and works at Xicotencatl #303. He isn’t on the map. Carol, David and I meandered in around 7 p.m. just as night was falling and the promise of a new moon hung in the sky.

 

Gabo’s courtyard was lit with purple twinkle lights. There were new murals on the wall. The large space will become a studio workshop for many. A table-top display held recycled Ixtlan wood mezcal boxes hand-painted with agave varieties of 750 liter bottles contained within. The mezcal is sourced locally by some of the best mezcaleros in Oaxaca and private labeled. Organic and artisanal. A great gift!

Agave painted mezcal boxes, containing artisanal juice -- for sale at Gabo Mendoza

Agave painted mezcal boxes, containing artisanal juice — for sale at Gabo Mendoza

We looked through Gabo’s newest work. Talked about how artists develop and evolve over time, and how this reflects in their work along with life experiences, tragedies and joy. It was interesting to talk about the transitions from then to now, sharing life stories, sipping Agua de Jamaica (hibiscus water) and feeling the glow of the space.

Moon coming up over purple twinkle lights

Moon coming up over purple twinkle lights at festive art opening

Then, we moved on to Taller de Grafica La Chicharra at Xicotencatl #317. This is a cooperative workshop studio where you can also take classes. Tonight, Saturday, March 19, there is a new show opening and they were readying for it. Spectacular work here, too, by MK Kabrito (Alan Altamirano) plus many others, much of it affordable! Check out the T-Shirts.

Great graphic T-shirts at La Chicarra graphic workshop

Great graphic T-shirts at La Chicarra graphic workshop

After a stop into Proyecto 30-30, Hidalgo #1208, where a graphic arts show of humorous political images hang.  By now, it was close to 8 p.m. and I knew Cooperativa Grafica Oaxaca at Manuel Doblado #210 closed at 7 p.m.  I had stopped in there earlier in the afternoon to get some great prints on fabric buttons that I will give as gifts. Agave, calavera skulls and animal images make great hat adornment.

Wall murals highlight artist work space

Wall murals highlight artist work space at Gabo Mendoza studios

We decided it was time to get a bite to eat, so walked a few blocks north on Xicotencatl that changes name to Pino Suarez when it crosses Independencia.  El Sol y La Luna Restaurante Bar, Pino Suarez #304 was our destination. Open 7 p.m. t0 midnight. Artisanal beer on tap, mezcal and sueros are featured beverages. I watched as thin crusted pizzas a la the best of Italy came out of the kitchen. We ordered cheese stuffed calzones — each crusty deliciousness. Next time, maybe a hamburger. They looked good, too.

Some tools of the artist craft

Some tools of the artist craft

Evenings this time of year are delightful. A wind comes up. Chills the hot air. Takes the edge off the beginning of the hot, spring rainy season (the rains haven’t come yet, though). Everything is in bloom. Purple Jacaranda line the avenues. A perfect time for an evening stroll to enjoy this city’s art scene and support the young artists who have so much to say through their work.

Contact: walkoaxaca@gmail.com or Facebook: artewalkoaxaca

At La Chicharra graphic arts studio and gallery

At La Chicharra graphic arts studio and gallery

 

Visiting India Artist Ruchin Soni Shows Work, Thursday, January 28

For one night only, Thursday, January 28, 2016, visiting India artist Ruchin Soni will present his work at an art opening to be held at  La Curtiduria studio, Barrio Jalatlaco, at 7:00 PM.  The public is invited.

RuchinInvitation

La Curtiduria is a graphic arts incubator studio space, whose director, Oaxaca printmaker Demian Flores, was mentor to Ruchin during his three-month cultural arts exchange program between Mexico and India, sponsored by the Mexican government. Ruchin competed and won support for this artist-in-residence program.

Ruchin worked in the studio to create woodcuts and other art pieces that represent his view of Oaxaca. Also a prolific muralist, painter and illustrator, Ruchin designed and painted street murals that bridge the intersection between popular art in Mexico and India.

Open Studio, Saturday, January 30, with Visiting India Textile Artist Nidhi Khurana and Ruchin Soni, 6 PM, at El Diablo y La Sandia Boca del Monte

Nidhi

Open Studio with Visiting India Artists, January 30, 6-8 PM

Textile artist Nidhi Khurana and artist/painter Ruchin Soni are wrapping up their three-month Oaxaca residency, sponsored by the Mexican government as part of a Mexico-India cultural exchange program.

Nidhi

Both are well-known in Delhi, India, for their innovative approach to large format art installations. Nidhi came here to experiment with natural dyes, and especially cochineal which is not sourced in India. She dyed cloth that is becoming textile maps of Oaxaca.

Ruchin completed a larger-than-life wall art mural on the highway to Ocotlan, portraits, sketches, and woodcut prints. Their tiny apartment in Oaxaca served as laboratory and design space, too.

Ruchin

They are leaving Oaxaca in early February. We hope you have a chance to drop by to see their work and wish them good journeys.  Gracias, Maria Crespo for opening your space for this exhibition.

 

I had the pleasure of mentoring Nidhi and Ruchin during their stay, helping Nidhi complete her competitive application to the Mexican government, and introducing her to textile artists and artisans to make her experience more complete. They arrived at the time my mom was dying, so my sincerest thanks to friends Martha Sorensen and Hayley Samuel for stepping in for me during my absence from Oaxaca to make key introductions.

Brigitte Huet, Kandart Sterling Silver Jewelry Sale

This is a show and sale for 10 pieces of Kandart sterling silver jewelry made in Oaxaca, Mexico, by French silversmith Brigitte Huet and her husband Ivan Campant.

Bracelet, slide clasp, 7" long x 2" wide. $665 USD plus shipping + insurance

Bracelet, slide clasp, 7″ long x 2″ wide. $665 USD plus shipping + insurance

The one-of-a-kind pieces are the last remaining for sale from the Oaxaca collection.

26" pendant, $595 USD plus shipping + insurance

26″ pendant, $595 USD plus shipping + insurance

Many of them were made 15 and 20 years ago and put away as keepsakes that Brigitte and Ivan have now decided to sell. This may be your last opportunity to buy these unique collector pieces.

If you want something, please choose quickly, then contact me by email and include your mailing address with ZIP Code. I will send you a PayPal invoice for the piece plus shipping and insurance at the sale value.

Brigitte and Ivan thank you and send best wishes.

They left Oaxaca in early 2014 to return to southern France. They are living in a small village near Toulouse, creating new wax carved designs that will be made in limited editions with silver casting as soon as they are able to move to a house that will accommodate a working studio. Meanwhile, Brigitte continues to develop new ideas, most recently implemented in wood sculpture, too.

Eagle bracelet, small is 6-1/2" x 2", $550. Longer is 7-5/8" x 2", $600.

Eagle bracelet, small is 6-1/2″ x 2″, $550. Longer is 7-5/8″ x 2″, $600.

Bracelet, 6-7/8" long x 1" wide, $445.

Bracelet, 6-7/8″ long x 1″ wide, $445.

17" long necklace, 1/4-1/2" wide, $295 USD

17″ long necklace, 1/4-1/2″ wide, $295 USD16" necklace, $335  necklace, $335, 16″ long

Eagle pendant, 3-1/2"long x 1-5/8" wide, $245.

Eagle pendant, 3-1/2″long x 1-5/8″ wide, $245.

Pendant, 2-3/4" long x 1-5/8" wide, $250.

Pendant, 2-3/4″ long x 1-5/8″ wide, $275.

Lady Pendant, 3-1/4" long x 2-1/4" wide, $275.

Lady Pendant, 3-1/4″ long x 2-1/4″ wide, $300.

How to order: First send me an email.

  1. Tell me which piece you want.
  2. Tell me your mailing address with ZIP Code
  3. Tell me if you want insurance for the full value of your purchase.
  4. Order and pay by Monday, June 2: I will ship from California.
  5. Order and pay after June 2: I will ship from California after July 9.
  6. I will send you a PayPal invoice for the amount of the piece(s) and add shipping and insurance to the total.
  7. Upon payment, I will ship within one day if order received by June 2, 2015.

P.S. I have no earrings or rings from Brigitte to offer for sale at this time.