I don’t think you can make a dye from the flower of the Royal Poinciana or Flamboyant tree, but I want to open this blog post with a photo of this dazzler that is now in full bloom all over Oaxaca. Walk under it, look up. It is an umbrella of fire ombre.
This photo of the immature Zapote Negro fruit is floating in a dye bath at the workshop studio of Porifiro Gutierrez. It will color wool a soft gray brown. Juana Gutierrez tells me the color derived is the same whether the black persimmon pulp is ripe or not.
Alfredo Hernandez Orozco works with both naturally dyed and synthetic fibers to make home goods and women’s clothing — dresses, blouses, shawls and short ponchos (quechemitls). He is also experimenting with bamboo silk and palm.
Alfredo works at the four-harness, flying shuttle pedal loom that once belonged to his grandfather. It is more than 70 years old.
Nina, a textile researcher who asked me to introduce her to weavers who work in natural dyes, bought this quechquemitl that incorporates cotton threads dyed with cochineal and palo de aguila (mahogany wood bark).
My friend Elsa Sanchez Diaz colors the cotton threads with natural dyes that Alfredo uses to weave the naturally dyed garments he sells at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca.
Above, a hank of wool dyed with wild marigold (pericone) gets a second dye bath with cochineal to give it a bright red-orange color.
One of the joys of visiting artisan studios to show visitors the natural dye textile and weaving process is that I always see and learn something new each time.
One-Day Natural Dye Textile and Weaving Study Tour
It’s not always easy to tell if weavers use natural dyes in the products they make. One way is to look at their hands! Look at their dye pots! Are they enamel or stainless steel? Are there large quantities of dye stuffs around waiting for the next dye bath?
And, for the last photo, I have to include one more of Veronica. I love her smile.
The Dyeing Life: Values and Commitment to Family, Art
This is a short three-minute video from the New York Times that I have to share with you. In 1994, I was in a Maio village in China, a 9-hour bus ride from the Sichuan capital of Chengdu. Not only does this video remind me of that visit, it retells how important it is to carry forward ancient traditions of dying cloth with natural materials. It is about more than the beauty of the textile, it is about honoring values, traditions and cultural art forms wherever we find them: Mexico, China, India or elsewhere. It is about how to recalibrate by understanding how important the natural world is to our total well-being.
Comments Off on The Dyeing Life: Values and Commitment to Family, Art
Posted in Cultural Commentary, Oaxaca Mexico art and culture, Textiles, Tapestries & Weaving
Tagged Chengdu, China, cloth, culture, Maio, natural dyes, New York Times, textiles