Tag Archives: tapestry

Antiques in San Pablo Villa de Mitla, Tlacolula, Oaxaca

There is a tall, inconspicuous door on a San Pablo Villa de Mitla side street. Open it and discover a home gallery filled with antique treasures. The inventory is small and includes ancient stone metates, glass vases hand-painted with flowers and edged in gold, reliquaries and ex votos. Señor Epifanio knows his stuff.

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Scott Roth holding an old Mitla hand-woven textile

Upstairs via a narrow, concrete passageway painted in brilliant blue is a gallery filled with blown glass mezcal bottles, remnants of the time when this was how the agave liquor was stored. They are hard to find and very expensive.

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Dolls, old photos, books, chachkeh from Mitla, Oaxaca

Occasionally, there is a jewelry find, like the Mexican silver coin earrings from the early part of the 20th century. I returned a month later to buy them and they were gone. Rule for Shopping in Mexico: buy it when you see it. Usually, these things are one-of-a-kind.

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Hand-blown mezcal and water bottles, most from Oaxaca, 1950’s-1960’s

I’m reluctant to share the address and contact information. Only because I haven’t asked permission to cite the location, plus these things are getting scarce, and with scarcity comes higher prices. As demand rises, prices do, too. So, why am I publishing this?

So you can see the photos, of course.

Faces and Festivals Chiapas Photography Workshop

Scott Roth

Portrait of Scott Roth with old Zapotec textile from Teotitlan del Valle

 

Visiting the Oaxaca Wool Mill: Lanera de Ocotlan

In 1996 Englishman Graham Johnson came to Ocotlan de Morelos from Mexico City to open a woolen mill.  The mill was designed to streamline the production process for making yarn and weaving cloth from local churro sheep wool* without sacrificing quality.

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Graham was a tinkerer. He loved machinery, especially the old carding and spinning machines that were being replaced by computerization. He bought these up, shipped them to Oaxaca from the United States and the United Kingdom, and refurbished them. Often, he would find or make the parts to keep them going. Many were 30 and 40 years old already.

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Over time the mill diversified and made luxuriously soft merino bed blankets and throws, fancy yak hair mecate horse reins, cinch chord for saddle belts, colorful wool tassels to decorate saddles, horse blankets and rugs for home decor.

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They kept a supply of all types of wool to work with and blend, continuing to experiment to produce soft and durable products. In addition to merino, the mill cleaned and spun cashmere, mohair, Lincoln and other breeds. They still do.

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Then, Graham died suddenly from a heart attack in 2009, and there was a question about who would keep the business going.

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I remember when I first met Graham on one of my early visits to Oaxaca. It was probably 2005 or 2006. The mill was running at full capacity and you could hear the hum of machinery as you walked down the open corridor separating the rooms where the work was done.  It was impressive then what these old machines and talented local employees could do.

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Now, when I revisited with my friend Scott Roth, who has been working with weavers, wool, dyes, and the hand-loomed rug weaving process for over 40 years, I could see the changes. Scott brought with him replacement parts for some of the machines. Machines that were working ten years ago now need repair. Old belts, bearings, wires, cogs and wheels break, wear out.

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For the past two years, Graham’s 37-year old daughter Rebecca has stepped in and is learning the operation. The mill is 25 years old and Rebecca is determined to keep her father’s dream alive.

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At her side are Rosalba (Rosie) Martinez Garcia, who has been there for 18 years and knows just about everything about the mill.  Helping are Angel Laer Ambocio Perez (above) and Alejandro Maldonado Santiago. They know a thing or two, too, although their tenure is much shorter.

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Rebecca loves textiles. She loves yarn. She wants to supply all types of yarns for knitting and weaving and other fiber arts. There are beautiful rugs and blankets stacked on shelves that were made before her father passed that are for sale.

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Spare parts for anything is essential here in Mexico. Equipment can be old. It can still be good, functional, valued. If one has the necessary parts to keep it going. Graham wasn’t the only tinkerer here. People save, cobble together, recycle, repurpose. Things get jimmied together and continue to work. People here learn how to be resourceful with what they have. It’s something I’ve learned being here.

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As Scott and Rebecca worked out numbers to complete their transaction, I wandered the mill, remembering Graham. A cat ran across the corridor to hide. A young tree struggled to grow up from the crack in the concrete. A rusted yarn holder cast shadows on the adobe wall. I loved being there, another part of the textile heaven that is Oaxaca.

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Where to Find It: Lanera de Ocotlan, 119 Benito Juarez, Ocotlan de Morelos, Oaxaca, Tel:  951-294-7062. Email: Rebecca Johnson at  becky_madonna@hotmail.com for an appointment to visit. Directions: Continue straight past the Zocalo and the Mercado Morelos two blocks. The wool mill door will be on your left. It is unmarked.

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Footnote: *Local wool is shorn from churro sheep which were brought to Mexico by the Spaniards with the conquest in 1521. The sheep are raised in the high mountains above Ocotlan in San Baltazar Chichicapam. The mountain range separates the Tlacolula and Ocotlan valleys. The altitude there produces a soft, dense fleece. There are still some, like Yolande Perez Vasquez, who use hand carders and the drop spindle to produce the best yarn, but this is a costly, labor-intensive process that yields a premium yarn that is very dye absorbent. Few weavers are able to pay the price.

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Oaxaca Gold, Silver Filigree Earrings, Plus Woven Tapestry Bags for Sale

After a long day of travel yesterday, by bus from Puebla to the Mexico City airport, then to San Francisco with a connection to Orange County, California, I have settled into my son’s home in Huntington Beach.

Shoulder bag, approx. 14"x16" with leather straps, $85 + shipping.  Dyed with wild marigold and nuts.

Handbag, approx. 15″ high x16″ wide, $85 + shipping. Dyed with wild marigold and nuts, lined with strong zipper closure, strong leather straps approx. 28″ long.

I’m carrying with me two beautiful hand-woven, tapestry wool bags that with natural dyes, made by my friend Lupe from Teotitlan del Valle, and a group of gold vintage filigree earrings and a pair of silver filigree from my personal collection. All are for sale here.

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Lupe is a single mother of three sons ranging in age from elementary school to college. Her goal is that all boys receive a college education. She makes ends meet, uses her small income to pay tuition and has few opportunities to market her work.

Handbag, approx. 14"x16", $85 + shipping. Handwoven, leather straps, zipper, lined.

Handbag, approx. 15″high x16″ wide, $85 + shipping. Hand-woven, 28″ leather straps, zipper, lined. Dyed with cochineal, wild marigold, nuts.

Lupe is talented and resourceful. Recently, she got a grant from the state economic development office to take a course to learn leather-work. The leather is soft, the workmanship excellent. She is making lined shoulder handbags and I offered to help her sell these two.  The leather shoulder strap measurements are approximately 28″ long, end-to-end where they are attached to the bag.

Are you interested?  Send me an email.

Now, for the jewelry!

#1: Frida Kahlo Style 3-Tier Chandelier Earrings: Luscious 10K Gold Filigree, Pearl, Purple Stones, $495. plus shipping and insurance. 2-3/4″ drop from ear hole! Approx. 1-1/2″ at widest point of the two leaves.

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I came by this amazing pair of vintage 10K gold, pearl and stone earrings because another indigenous friend needed money to buy a refrigerator. How could I say no? The filigree work is gorgeous. She says her father gave them to her about thirty-five years ago. These earrings are substantial, elegant, dramatic. A true statement.

Selling these and all the rest  for the price I paid (smile).

#2. Juicy Red Vintage 10K Gold Filigree and Pearl Earrings. $195. + shipping and insurance.  Deep bezel setting. You don’t find workmanship like this now! 1-3/4″ long from the ear hole and 3/4″ wide.

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FiligreeJewelry_WovenBags-23#3. Mario Perez Sterling Silver Filigree Earrings, new. $225 + shipping and insurance.

Among the finest, most intricate filigree workmanship in Oaxaca. Mario has his gallery on the Macedonio Alcala walking street in Oaxaca. These earrings have secure French-style hooks. The dangling drop is about the size of a quarter. 1-1/2″ long from the ear hole, 1″ wide. For more detail, click on the photo.

#4. Vintage 8K Gold and Pearl Earrings. These dramatic dangles have a huge, oval, clear cubic zirconia stone that sparkle with every move. $165+ shipping and insurance. 1-3/4″ long from the ear hole and 3/4″ wide.

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#5. Vintage 10K Gold Filigree Traditional Zapotec Earrings from Teotitlan del Valle. These are probably at least forty years old. They were part of a family collection and the owner needed to raise money for home improvements. $385. + shipping and insurance. Hook goes from back of ear to front, with gold disk facing forward. 2-1/4″ drop from ear hole, 1-7/16″ wide.

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Flexible Schedule, Intensive Weaving Workshops and Studio Time, Oaxaca, Mexico

Oaxaca Cultural Navigator can arrange and schedule intensive tapestry weaving workshops and independent studio time that fits into your travel schedule.  You learn from the Chavez Santiago family weavers in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico, with private or semi-private sessions.

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We are happy to offer you this opportunity to come to Teotitlan del Valle to learn from one of the most accomplished master weavers of the village.  The workshop can be scheduled as a private experience to suit your schedule.  Studio residencies are flexible and can be scheduled for as long as you wish to stay — one day, several days or several months.  This includes independent time at your own dedicated loom to work on your own projects.

Here is what we can offer you:

  • Weaving Workshop: Intensive beginner to intermediate level 4-day workshop at $585 USD per person.  This includes all wool and 4-6 hours of instruction daily. At the end of the workshop you will have completed a tapestry sampler about the size of a pillow cover or small wall-hanging.  You will make your own lodging, food and transportation arrangements.  Note: Weaving workshop may overlap with other participants.
  • Optional:  We can make all-inclusive arrangements for you when you register for Tapestry Weaving Workshop: Dancing on the Loom. 
  • Studio Time: Up to six-hours a day of studio time in the workshop at a dedicated loom. The cost is $100 a day.  This includes naturally dyed wool, plus coaching and instruction to weave more complex designs. Note: Studio time may overlap with other participants.
  • Long-Term Residencies:  If you would like to stay longer than one-week, contact us for special pricing.
  • Materials/Yarn for Purchase:  You may purchase additional naturally dyed locally sourced, hand-spun churro wool directly from the family.  The cost is $20 USD for 100 grams or 260 pesos for 100 grams.

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You can bypass the Intensive 5-day Weaving Workshop and go directly to studio time IF you are an experienced tapestry weaver or IF you have taken the beginner-intermediate workshop from the family at another time.

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If you are interested in making these arrangements, please contact Norma Hawthorne at Oaxaca Cultural Navigator.   We can set up the studio residency for as many days or weeks as you wish.  You would make all payments to reserve the workshop and studio arrangements with Oaxaca Cultural Navigator. We will send you a PayPal invoice for 1/2 the total cost with the remaining amount due 45 days before the workshop/residency begins.  You would need to specify the dates you prefer for the workshop and/or when you want the residency.

Oaxaca Tapestry Weaving Workshop: Dancing on the Loom– 2015

Imagine! A 4-day hands-on weaving workshop in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca for a total of 4 nights and 5 days.   For beginners and experienced weavers, textile and fiber artists, knitters, designers, and anyone who wants to know more about traditional tapestry weaving.  Your instructor is master weaver Federico Chavez Sosa.  With optional add-on cooking class!

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Photos above: Workshop participant Claudia Michel, Portland, Oregon, chooses colors for her tapestry and watches as Federico demonstrates a technique.

Includes 22 hours of instruction, 4 nights lodging, 4 breakfasts and 4 dinners. Perfect for fiber artists, weavers, knitters, natural dye users, artists, teachers.  A great shared experience for families, too.

February 2015

  • Arrive February 7. Weaving workshop is February 8-11. $895 per person double occupancy (course details below).
  • Add-on Zapotec Cooking Class, February 12, $125 per person, includes lodging on February 11, dinner, breakfast, lunch, instruction and recipes.

April 2015

  • Arrive March 31. Weaving workshop is April 1-4. Be in the village for Semana Santa, Easter processionals.
  • TRAILING SPOUSE OPTIONS:  $385

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Tapestry Weaving Workshop Tuition is $895 per person, including lodging (double occupancy), and most meals.  Workshop is limited to 6 participants. For a single room with private bath the cost is $1095.

Claudia's finished tapestry.

Claudia’s finished tapestry.

I cannot even find the words to tell Fredrico what a wonderful teacher he is — encouraging, patient, skilled, kind, with a sense of humor, and a master weaver. He loves color, and knows color and design. He encouraged me to be creative.  At the end of the last day, we had a great experience creating the end of my tapestry together. He was generous with all of the yarn colors and patiently made the spindles for me. He and Lola took the time to dye yarn today and show me each step of the process. I cannot even find words to tell them how grateful I am.  I have a magnificent tapestry to remind me of this extraordinary experience in my life.  And I have learned skills to take home and incorporate into my own weaving. Gracias a todo Fredrico y Lola!  — Claudia Michel, Portland, OR, August 6, 2013

WeavingWkshpClaudiaMichel-9Not only will you learn the way Zapotecs have been weaving for over 500 years, and dyeing for millenia, you will be experiencing village life through a very unique and personal perspective.

Brief History of Tapestry Weaving in Teotitlan del Valle: With the conquest of Mexico in 1521, the Spanish brought to Oaxaca the 2-harness tapestry loom, European weaving techniques, and sheep for wool.  They taught men to weave since European weavers were male, strong enough to work the heavy wooden beaters. Not much has changed in the last 500 years except that about half the women in the village also weave using this loom! Yes, we can!

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About the Chavez Santiago Family Weavers.  They have traveled and exhibited throughout the United States, are in the permanent collections of galleries, museums and artists, including the Snite Museum of Art at the University of Notre Dame. They have exhibited and lectured widely, including at the National Museum of Mexican Art (Chicago), the San Jose (CA) Quilt and Textile Museum, the American Tapestry Alliance, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Purdue University, and the University of California at Santa Cruz.

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Level of Experience Necessary: These are small group, hands-on workshops that can accommodate varying levels of ability, from beginner to advanced student. Because the size of each group is limited, you will receive individualized instruction and coaching from the master weaving family of Federico Chavez Sosa. More experienced weavers can create more complex projects.

Participants will have a personal loom for the session.  We will have the loom dressed (warped) and ready for you to begin weaving when you arrive. Materials include your choice of naturally dyed wool yarn from which you will weave a sampler textile that can be used as a wall hanging, pillow cover, or form the body of a purse or shoulder bag. You will select the wool from colors dyed with pomegranates, pecans, mosses, indigo, and cochineal.  Our participants have created amazing textiles that range from 18 inches to 30 inches in length in just four days.

What You Will Learn:

  • Traditional Zapotec weaving techniques, patterns and motifs that produce squares, stripes, diagonals, circles and color gradations;
  • Use of the two-harness pedal loom and shuttles;
  • Practice weaving simple or more complex patterns, depending upon your level of experience;
  • The cultural history of rug weaving in Teotitlan, ancient wool preparation techniques, natural dyeing methods, and how to discern synthetic dye use
  • Participate in natural dyeing demonstrations to see how the range and variety of color comes from native plant materials;
  • Complete a finished textile: cut the sample tapestry from the loom, clean the wool tapestry, twist and tie the fringes; and
  • Work under the expert guidance of weavers who have created extraordinary textiles for generations.

Day 1:  Arrive and settle in to your Bed and Breakfast lodge. Light supper included.

Weaving Workshop: Days 2-5, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Day 2: Arrive at the Chavez Santiago Family Weavers for an orientation and demonstration of Zapotec weaving patterns and techniques to create squares, stripes, diagonals and circles. Choose your loom and select the colors for your tapestry. Prepare the bobbins. Begin your project. (Breakfast and dinner included. Lunch on your own.)

Days 3-4-5: Participate in demonstrations and then practice using the two-harness pedal loom using a variety of shuttles to make more complex patterns and greater variety of colors, experiment with using the equipment on your own, see dyeing demonstration using cochineal, indigo, and wild marigold (pericone). Learn how to count threads to create a circle or square within the overall design. Finish off your piece by cutting it off the loom, rolling and tying fringes.

Day 6:  Depart for the airport and home after breakfast, or extend your stay in Teotitlan del Valle or Oaxaca city.

Cost:

  • $895 per person shared room and shared bath
  • $1095 per person single room with private bath

Trailing Spouse Add-on for Weaving Workshop: $385.  Includes 5 nights lodging, 5 breakfasts, 5 dinners.

What Is Included:

  • All weaving equipment and supplies to create a finished wool tapestry sampler that is approximately 18” wide by 24” long
  • 22+ hours of supervised instruction in English
  • An educational reference notebook of workshop materials
  • 4 nights lodging with daily breakfast and dinner in Teotitlan del Valle at family-operated posada/bed and breakfast within easy walking distance of the weaving studio

How to Register: A 50% deposit is required to reserve your space.  Tell us you are ready to register and we will send you a PayPal invoice.  Payment is only accepted with PayPal.

Final payment of the balance is due 45 days before the program starts.   If the final balance is not paid by then, we reserve the right to treat the reservation as cancelled and no refunds are offered. Any registrations made within 45 days of the workshop start date must be paid in full at the time of registration.

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Cancellations and Refunds

If cancellation is necessary, deposits are refundable, as follows: cancellations must be made in writing by email.

Deposits may be refunded:

  • If cancellation is necessary, 50% of the deposit will be refunded up to 45 days before the program start date.
  • After that, deposits are not refundable.
  • If cancellation is necessary, you may apply the deposit to a future workshop scheduled in the same calendar year or transfer your registration to another person.
  • We reserve the right to cancel or reschedule workshops, in which case you may choose a 100% refund or to apply the tuition to a future workshop.

We accept payment with PayPal.  See “Register Today” for form and procedures. We will send you a PayPal invoice when you tell us you are ready to register.

What Is NOT Included:

  • Transportation in/to Mexico, Oaxaca and Teotitlan
  • Local transportation costs (bus, taxi, collectivo)
  • Gratuities and fees
  • Trip insurance, medical expenses, hospitalization, and other fees
  • Lunches and dinners (unless noted in the itinerary), snacks, liquor/alcoholic beverages
  • Optional afternoon side trips and excursions

Upon registration for the workshop, we will provide you with:

  • Transportation options to get from the Oaxaca airport to the city and to Teotitlan del Valle and your bed and breakfast
  • A self-guided tour map of Teotitlan del Valle
  • How to get from the airport to the village
  • A seasonal packing list, and travel tips to make your journey easier and fun

Note: Zapotec weavers use the pedal loom, which they stand at to work. People who have difficulty standing for any period of time, or who have back problems will want to consider this.  Many of Teotitlan’s streets and alleyways are cobblestone and/or dirt, with many uneven surfaces. It is a several block walk between lodging options and the weaving workshop. Please bring sturdy, comfortable walking shoes.

Documentation

U.S. Citizens traveling to Mexico are required to carry a current passport, valid for at least three months after your re-entry to the U.S. It is your responsibility to obtain proper documentation. If you are not a U.S. Citizen, contact the Mexican embassy, consulate or national airline of Mexico for entry requirements.

Questions? Contact oaxacaculture@me.com