Tag Archives: Chavez Santiago Family weavers

Commonwealth Club of California to Host Chavez Santiago Family Weavers on May 10

San Francisco and Bay Area textile and fiber artists, hand-weavers and spinners are invited to attend a presentation at the Commonwealth Club of California at 12:00 noon on May 10.

The Future of Tradition: Weavers of Oaxaca, Mexico Connect Their Future with Their Past.

Eric Chavez Santiago, director of education at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca and Janet Chavez Santiago, education coordinator at the San Pablo Academic and Cultural Center of Oaxaca, will talk about their family’s weaving and textile traditions, indigenous life, and the professional goals they have set for themselves and their institutions.  Jean Pierre Larochette, a Berkeley, Calif. weaver and leader of the American Tapestry Alliance, will introduce them.

Chavez Santiago Family Portrait by Richard Carter c.2012

Their father, Federico Chavez Sosa, is a master weaver whose work is recognized for blending traditional Zapotec design with innovative color combinations and pattern adaptations.  Both Janet (top, second from left) and Eric (top right) are fourth generation tapestry weavers, along with their brother Omar (top left).  Eric’s novia Elsa Sanchez Diaz is to Eric’s left.

The family is committed to using only 100% natural dyes in their work.  They have been featured in the NY Times article 36 Hours: Oaxaca, Mexico by travel writer Freda Moon.

Eric and Janet are in the Bay Area at the invitation of the American Tapestry Alliance.

This summer! Weaving and Natural Dye Workshop with Federico Chavez Sosa and the Chavez Santiago Family Weavers in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico, produced by Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC.

Chavez Family Weavers, a Portrait by Norma Hawthorne c.2012

In addition, Federico accepts commissions for custom work and when you are in Oaxaca, please visit them at Galeria Fe y Lola, Av. 5 de Mayo #408, Centro Historico.

Questions?  Contact Norma Hawthorne, executive director, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC.

Poster: Textile Arts of Oaxaca — October 2008 North Carolina Calendar

Blue-Indigo-Anil: Natural Dyes of Oaxaca

These traditional Zapotec Mexican rug designs capture the beauty of the landscape, replicate the stone carvings on the archeological ruins of the Oaxaca Valley, and convey the artistry of the culture.  The first rug on the left, Zapotec Eye of God, uses the natural dyes of indigo blue, the cochineal bug, and pomegranates.  All the rugs shown here are of the highest quality pure 100% churro sheep wool grown in the Mixtec highlands of Oaxaca.  The next rug (left to right) is called Thunders and Diamonds.  This is a very traditional design in the village of Teotitlan del Valle.  This rug is naturally dyed, too, with lichens, cochineal, indigo and pecans.  The next rug is the Square Snail, that uses all indigo in various shades.  The snail (caracol) here incorporates the greca or fret motif, a symbol that represents the stages of life:  birth, growth, death, and rebirth.  The next rug to the right of the Square Snail is called Contemporary, designed by Federico Chavez Sosa to incorporate the traditional Mitla ruins with a new look.  The last rug is Pina de Maguey.  The pineapple of the maguey cactus grows beneath the earth and is cultivated to produce both mezcal and tequila.  The Oaxaca valley is filled with maguey fields.  This rug, which Federico also designed, combines the traditional Zapotec Diamonds pattern with the interpretation of the maguey (or agave) plant.  is also completely dyed with indigo.  The color variations of indigo, from deep blues and purples to paler shades, results from the amount of indigo used and whether it is mixed with an acid or base.

These rugs are available for sale and can be special ordered in any size, up to 9′ x 12′

See my website and the Rug Gallery for more examples of great Mexican rug patterns.

Oaxaca Weaving Workshop: Day One

Karen Karuza arrived this morning to begin a four-day weaving and natural dyeing workshop with the Chavez Santiago Family, Francisco I. Madero #55, Teotitlan del Valle at their studio and gallery. Karen is an artist and has been teaching textile design at the Art Institute of Philadelphia for 20 years. Her son, Sebastian, age 14, who was born in Oaxaca, accompanied her. It was perfect because he could hang out with Omar Chavez Santiago, also age 14. Karen is not an experienced weaver, but took to the process instantly with expert guidance from master weaver Federico Chavez Sosa.

Federico and his daughter Janet Chavez Santiago first explained to Karen how the Zapotec loom is used and how it was warped. Then, they all went into the rug gallery where Federico and Janet pulled out many rugs woven with natural colors so Karen could see the choices of color combinations and patterns that she might use in the piece she planned to weave. Here, she could see the finished pieces woven by Federico, his wife Dolores, Janet, and sons Eric (age 24) and Omar.

Next, Federico and Janet took Karen upstairs to the area where the dyed wool is stored. Here, she could choose the colors she preferred. Then, they went back downstairs to the weaving workshop area where Federico showed Karen how to wind bobbins using the spinning wheel.

With Karen at the loom next to him, Federico then demonstrated the tapestry weaving techniques of Teotitlan del Valle, how to put the shuttle through the loom, use the foot pedals, and manipulate the yarn to achieve an even border. The two fourteen year olds, Omar and Sebastian, worked together to spin the wool onto bobbins that would be put into the shuttle.

As the family gathers around the loom, Federico teaches and coaches, Janet translates as necessary, and both father-daughter team encourage Karen as she begins the rhythm of weaving. Janet says, “When you have the idea how the loom works, it is easier to do it. It just takes practice.” Karen is learning quickly and after only a few hours, has created the beginning of a beautiful tapestry that she intends to use as a wall hanging when she returns home.

“This is really exciting,” she said. “I’m here because I want to be able to talk about traditional weaving techniques with my students and other textile faculty members. It’s professional development that will be very helpful in my work.”

After the 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. period of instruction is over, Karen, along with her son, gathered around the family table for comida — the mid-day meal — that included homemade sopa de elote con flor de calabassas and tasajo con queso, salsa y tortillas prepared by Dolores Chavez Arrellenas who is an extraordinary cook. Now, to get ready for tomorrow’s lesson, Omar is squeezing 100 limes by hand. The juice will be used to prepare the cochineal for the dyeing portion of the workshop.

Note: The workshops are held in the taller — home and studio — of Federico Chavez Sosa and his wife Dolores Santiago Arrellanos, in the village of Teotitlan del Valle, about 17 miles outside Oaxaca city. The gallery and studio is open daily, however, it is always wise to call ahead to make certain that someone is home! The phone number is (951) 52 44078. Add 011 52 if calling from the U.S.