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.
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.