Tag Archives: natural dyes

Textil Zacoalpan, Native Mexican Cotton Becomes Glorious Cloth

On our first tour day, we make our way to Ometepec, Guerrero, where we spend the first night on the road after traveling north on MEX 200, the coastal highway to Acapulco and beyond. Early the next morning, after breakfast, we travel about a hour northeast to the tiny village of Zacoalpan where we meet Jesus Ignacio and his family.

Ignacio was educated as an engineer and graduated with a four-year college degree but could not find work without moving far away from his family, something he didn’t want to do.

So, he picked up his smart phone, started an Instagram page, and that’s how I found him four years ago. Visiting him, his mother Porfiria, and his aunts is a highlight of our tour. They are humble, and are one of two families in the village who still grow their own cotton. They weave glorious cloth.

The women pick, clean, beat, hand-spin, and weave this native cotton. Ignacio has researched ancient designs, collected pieces of huipiles that have survived over the last fifty years, and the family has introduced them into their iconography. While it is possible to purchase directly from him from the IG page, seeing the garments in person, as well as hearing the weaving stories in the family, makes this a special visit.

Let us know if you want to come with us in 2025. We will be scheduling this tour again soon. Send us an email to express your interest.

Pinotepa de Don Luis Weaver Dazzles Us on the Oaxaca Coast

Our first stop in Pinotepa de Don Luis is at the small home and workshop of weaver Sebastiana Guzman. Her work is always very fine — she uses the finest cotton from the best mill in Puebla state, as well as hand-spun coyuchi brown, white and green cotton. The village is known for its work using purple snail dye, too, and Sebastiana uses touches of it in her weaving to accent the iconography of the region: the double headed eagle, crabs, corn fields, and mountains.

She is the recipient of many awards throughout Mexico, and has many first-place prizes to her name!

After talking with her about her weaving passion, we have an opportunity to see the work she has made. She introduces us to her aunt who spins, and another who weaves and contributes to what is offered for purchase. Sebastiana’s brother Antonio is a gourd carver and he brings pieces of his work including bowls, bracelets, and earrings.

We have visited Sebastiana over the last five years and in this time she has earned enough money to make enormous progress on the construction of her house, which is down a steep dirt, stair-stepped incline to a platform that overlooks the hills below. it is always a treasure to be with her.

Let us know if you want to travel with us here in 2025. We will be posting tour information soon.

Las Sanjuaneras Cooperative, on the Oaxaca Coast, San Juan Colorado

At the end of a winding road about an hour-and-a-half up the mountain from MEX 200, the coastal highway leading north to Acapulco and beyond, is the Mixtec village of San Juan Colorado. Here, almost all the women weave and there are over thirty registered cooperatives. One of our favorites is Las Sanjuaneras. Why? They spin native cotton, make thread using the drop spindle (malacate), and use natural dyes.

About five years ago, two Oaxaca designers, Ana Paula Fuentes and Maddalena Forcella, got a grant to work with the cooperative to teach them natural dyeing and to introduce a weaving technique to create a lighter weight huipil that would be more comfortable in the hot, humid coastal climate. Of course, they still used traditional iconography in their textiles, telling the story of the village and traditions. The innovation has been successful and many collectors value what they create.

This is the fifth year we have come to visit them. When we arrived, the clothing was strung along lines between concrete posts, but before jumping in to the fray, we sat to hear about the cooperative and each woman’s story — when they started weaving, who they learned from, their hopes and dreams for themselves and their families.

So many are supporting their families because they are able to bring in a cash income from the sale of their textiles. This goes to pay for medical care (many of the elderly are sick, have problems with blood pressure or diabetes), educational costs for children and grandchildren, and food that supplements what the men are able to grow in the fields.

The cooperative is getting smaller. There were fifteen women last year. This year, two died. The eldest member of the coop is age 78 and the youngest in in her thirties.

They prepared a delicious lunch for us of caldo de pollo (chicken soup), homemade tortillas hot off the comal, grilled tasajo (seasoned beef), and lots of agua de jamaica (hibiscus water). Muy rico. I was so hungry, I forgot to take photos of the food.

And then, we got to put our hands on the glorious textiles!

Come with us in 2025! Send an email to say you are interested.

We invited Las Sanjuaneras coop members to choose the piece that was their favorite, and that they were most proud of. This was a wonderful way to see the range of colors and garments.

Above left, cooperative president Camerina Contreras, is finishing a huipil, dyed with jicara gourd, indigo, and embellished with native, hand-spun pre-Hispanic white cotton.

The oldest member of the coop speaks to us in Mixtec. Camerina translates to Spanish, and our cultural anthropologist guide Denise translates to English.

On the right, women wear the traditional wrap-around skirt of the region call a posahuanco. Today, it is made with synthetic dyes. It used to be dyed with indigo, cochineal, and purple snail dye. If you find one that is, it will cost 30,000 pesos. So rare.

Amazing clothing, delicious food, humble homes.

12 Cozy Warm, Shawls + Scarves Added to Shop

Just in time for winter bluster, order soon to receive before the holidays, these scarves and shawls are from Chiapas and Oaxaca, handwoven on either the back-strap or flying shuttle pedal loom. Materials are wool, cotton, and cashmere. The colors are extraordinary. We hope you see for yourself. When you order from the shop, you can use a credit card or PayPal and there are no fees to you. We can package up and ship within three business days.


Here’s a small sample of what is in store:

Chiapas is textile heaven, where Maya women in remote villages weave extraordinary textiles on the back-strap loom while tending sheep and caring for children. Come see for yourself as we take you to remote villages in the highlands beyond the colonial city of San Cristobal de las Casas, where we are based.

Chiapas Textile Study Tour. Spaces Open. February 20-28, 2024

ORIGINAL 2023 Textile Extravaganza: 400+ Mexican Artisans

Coming up in Mexico City from November 15-19, is ORIGINAL. This is a major textile and folk art event that will attract visitors from all over the world. We have organized a long weekend tour to Mexico City that will take us to ORIGINAL every day where we will meet and have private conversations with some of the leading fashion and textile artisans in the country. Want to come last minute? We have a space for you! Send an email.

Yesterday afternoon I went to visit my dear friend Arturo Hernandez in Mitla. We sat for a couple of hours in his studio, sipping tea, talking about design and making. He is one of the invited artisans participating in ORIGINAL. The Mexican Ministry of Culture has organized and promoted this event and in order to attract the best artisans from throughout the country, most of whom do not have the funds to travel to Mexico City and cover meals and lodging expenses, is underwriting costs to enable them to participate. Arturo will travel by bus with two huge packages of handwoven and naturally dyed rebozos, throws, bedspreads, and ponchos.

Arturo modeled the multi-colored poncho, all made with natural dyes, that he will wear for the Pasarela, a fashion parade, that we will see for the opening.

Appropriation of what Mexico calls its cultural patrimony — textile designs that are centuries old and part of a community’s identity — has pervaded the fashion industry. This expoventa, held at Los Pinos, the former home of Mexican presidents in Chapultepec Park, seeks to overcome this practice by bringing indigenous textile design to the forefront.

During our tour, we will discuss the history of Mexican fashion, indigenous design and creativity, what is and isn’t cultural appropriation, meet and talk with cultural anthropologist Marta Turok, designers and promoters Alberto Lopez Gomez, Remigio Mestas, 1/8 Takamura, and Ignacio Netzahualcoyotl. We will have plenty of time to walk the expo, take in the catwalks, and dine at some of the finest restaurants in the Centro Historico. As if that isn’t enough, our friend and art historian Valeria will guide us on a narrative tour of the Diego Rivera murals.

Here is an excellent article, Mexico fights plagiarism, that I recommend that you read. The article features Ignacio Nezahualcoyotl, who we will meet and talk with at ORIGINAL 2023.