Monthly Archives: June 2009

Mint Museum/Charlotte, NC Interview for Textile Documentary

Today, I met Alex McKenzie, an intern for the Mint Museum who is making a video documentary about the textile traditions of the Americas for a museum educational program.  Alex is a student at University of North Carolina-Greensboro and his summer project is to learn all he can about weaving and natural dyeing, the indigenous textile collections at the museum, backstrap and floor looms, materials used for weaving, and interview people in North Carolina to include in the documentary who are involved with textiles.  He asked if we could get together to talk and, of course, I said yes.

These were Alex’s Interview Questions:

What is your past involvement with textiles and the arts? How were you inspired to enter this field and what have you gained from it?

Could you please elaborate on your current occupation? (UNC)

Your website consistently entitles you as a cultural navigator. Could you explain why and how you use this term to describe yourself?

What is the Oaxaca Artist Guild and what are its goals?

Why do you frequent Oaxaca?

Are the weavers you meet in Oaxaca of Mayan descent?

What type of weaving techniques and looms are used presently in Oaxaca?
Have they changed a lot since the ancient times?
Furthermore what looms do you use?

Are you familiar with the back-strap loom? What are the advantages and disadvantages of it?

Briefly explain the weaving process of a typical Oaxacan weaver.

What experience do you have with natural dyes? (Cochineal) How are these dyes important to the culture?

Is there any preference in the choice of fibers today?

What is the significance of the varying patterns used by the weavers on the textiles?

What is the cultural significance the textiles have had on the natives of the region, past and present?
What do these works of art mean to the people who create and wear them, spiritually and culturally?

How are weavers looked upon in society? How is weaving integrated within the culture?

What are you goals and ambitions of your website and blog?
What are your Goals for North Carolina and Oaxaca in relation to one another?

Backstrap Loom Weaving of Oaxaca

Nicolasa Pascual is a weaver from San Bartolo Yautepec, Oaxaca. Her work is considered to be the best and finest example of Oaxaca weaving. She uses the backstrap loom, with cotton- warp and weft, synthetic dyes, 1 heddle rod, about 35 ends/threads per inch, plain weave + supplementary weft weave technique.

You can see Nicolasa Pascual’s weaving detail.  The needle is used as a shuttle to pass the threads and weave a supplementary weft design at the same time.  The designs are interwoven using the heddle rod — they are not embroidered!

The man featured is Moises Martinez, a weaver who works in silk from San Pedro Cajonos, Oaxaca. He uses the backstrap loom, with silk-warp and weft dyed with Cochineal dye, 1 heddle rod, about 20 ends/threads per inch, plain weave technique.

Photos taken by Eric Chavez Santiago, Director of Education, Museo Textil de Oaxaca, courtesy of the museum.

Patchwork Quilt Workshop Photos: Museo Textil de Oaxaca

Oaxaca Lodging + Feedback Forum: Share Your Experiences

What has been your lodging experience in Oaxaca?  Were you satisfied with your accommodations?  Do you have recommendations for other travelers?  If you booked via the Internet, was what was promised all that it was promoted to be?  Any recommendations for where to stay?  Cost?  High end?  Moderate? Budget?  Small places?  Conference hotels?  Do you have any advice for “shopping for lodging on the Internet” that could avoid a particularly unsatisfying experience once you show up?

All ideas and comments welcome.

Because I live in Teotitlan del Valle, which is 17 miles outside the city, we rarely come into Oaxaca and stay overnight.  But, if we do, we try to book at Las Bugambilias or Casa de los Sabores, which are beautiful, small, immaculate, bed and breakfast sites.  The cost is around $80USD per night (based on current exchange rates).  The elegant, historic Camino Real hotel on 5 de Mayo, is gorgeous, would accommodate conferences, and is very costly (over $250 USD per night).

Your suggestions?

A few ideas from Roberta Christie, who has lived in Oaxaca for a number of years.  She recommends this strategy for long-term stays in response to a request about where to rent an apartment or casa for 5-7 months:

Oaxaca Lending Library on-line newsletter in the Market —  real estate section:

Craig’s List might give some leads as well.
Another plan would be to get there, stay a couple of weeks
(both offering a few rooms w/ kitchen) and then search and decide.

Expo & Sale of Natural Dyed Silk Textiles @ Museo Textil de Oaxaca

Wednesday-Sunday, June 17-21, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., free admission.  The silk weavers of San Pedro and San Miguel Cajonos demonstrate traditional methods of dyeing handspun silk using natural plant materials and cochineal.  Come watch this ancient and magical process.  They will offer beautiful silk rebozos for sale, too.