Tag Archives: silk

Art of the Rebozo: Painting on Silk Oaxaca Style with Costume Designer Hilary Simon

Oaxaca is the ideal location for this 8-night, 9-day silk painting workshop led by London, U.K. costume designer, artist and curator Hilary Simon from March 22-30, 2013.  Hilary will curate a London and Mexico exhibition on the rebozo in 2014, and we are fortunate to bring her to Oaxaca to give you this incredible experience to create a hand-painted silk rebozo based on Oaxaca motifs.

Inspiration for design is everywhere within the indigenous culture here and there is no shortage of topics to draw from: stunning scenery, food, flowers, textiles, archaeology and art.  Plus, this is Semana Santa Week, a perfect time for visual inspiration. During our time together, we will visit museums, markets and artisans to capture visual images that will become subjects for your rebozo.  If you have your own idea for a design, bring it! We’ll help you translate it to silk.

Silk painting is suitable for all levels, from total beginner to professional artists.  It is easy to grasp and execute.  Each participant will have a unique style that emerges in the class and this is a very enjoyable experience with exciting results.

We will use the French technique of gutta-serti on habutai silk.  The designs are outlined with gutta or water-based resists, which are applied to natural off-white silk that has been pre-washed, dried and stretched (on a stretcher).

The result will be a beautiful silk rebozo of your own creation                                   that measures at least 72″ long  x 24″ wide!

Hilary will demonstrate each step and walk you through the process.  First, we will practice on a small sampler before starting on the larger piece of silk that will become the rebozo.  This sampler can be made later into pillows and beautiful accessories.  You will see how the dyes react to the gutta and the fascinating effects that result.  Next, you will prepare a design to apply directly onto the silk with a soft pencil or paper stencil.  We will spend time exploring ideas and motifs, with sketches and photographs to stimulate your creativity.  You will also learn how to mix and dilute the dyes to expand the color palette.  The combinations are endless and the colors are rich and vibrant.

We will use Special Effects that include fine and coarse salt to give a mottled effect, alcohol to soften the dye intensity, and outliners to highlight designs at the final stages that yield iridescent, glittery, and metallic colors.  A Faux batik effect is achieved using hot wax that gives a crackle effect to the design.

Preliminary Daily Itinerary: This is Semana Santa Week in Oaxaca, an extraordinary time for visual inspiration.

Friday, March 22, Day 1:  Arrive and check in to your Oaxaca hotel.  If you arrive early enough, join us for a for a no-host dinner.  Overnight in Oaxaca city.

Saturday, March 23, Day 2:  Orientation and Exploration: After breakfast, we will explore Oaxaca on foot with sketchbook in-hand, visit galleries and museums, and soak in the Colonial architecture of this incredible city. Depart Oaxaca in late afternoon.  Check in to Teotitlan del Valle bed and breakfast.  (B, L, D)

Sunday, March 24, Day 3:  Talk and demonstration.  After exploring the famous regional tianguis (market) in Tlacolula in the morning, we gather in the afternoon to make the pipette to apply the gutta gum, practice on a piece of prepared stretched silk, learn how to control the gutta line which is the grounding for the development of the creative piece, then apply the dyes. (B, L, D)

Monday, March 25, Day 4:  Painting Demonstration.  Learn about the dyes and various dye application techniques: adding water alcohol, salts, painting wet on wet or wet on dry surfaces, layering.  Student work at their own pace, spending time on their personal interests.  Take a break to participate in the Lunes Monday processions. Don’t forget your sketchbook. Overnight in Teotitlan del Valle for the rest of the week. (B, L, D)

Tuesday, March 26, Day 5:   Faux Batik  Demonstration as a final application. Bringing all the techniques together, Day 5 is the time to play with all that you have learned.  Prepare to begin your major piece. Ideas and sketching for the Rebozo. (B, D)

Wednesday-Friday, March 27-29, Day 6/7/8:  During this time, Hilary is available to help students with ideas and developments.  She will demonstrate and coach each person individually to express her/himself fully through their design.  It takes time to carefully prepare for the finished piece and we know that participants will each work at a different pace. For those who are speedier, more silk can be painted!  We’ll take a break to join villagers for Maundy Thursday processions.  Good Friday evening reception and Rebozo Exhibition.  Local guests are invited. (B, D)

Saturday, March 30, Day 9: Depart after breakfast.

What is Included:

  • 21 hours of instruction
  • Unlimited coaching
  • Open studio workshop time
  • All lodging
  • 8 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 7 dinners
  • Guided visits as indicated in the itinerary
  • Transportation as indicated in the itinerary
  • Silk to practice on and for your long rebozo
  • All dyes, gutta-serti, and wood frames

What to Bring:

  • Your own watercolor brushes (we’ll send specifications)
  • A sketchbook and drawing pencil
  • Your inquisitiveness and enthusiasm
Meet Your Workshop Leader: Hilary Simon — Costume Designer, Artist, Curator.  Hilary is currently working on a textile exhibition of the Mexican Rebozo.  It will open in London at The Fashion and Textile Museum on February 2014.  In July 2014, the exhibition will travel to The Franz Mayer Museum in Mexico City and then in December open at The Textile Museum in Oaxaca, Mexico.  It will have work from the Robert Everts collection, contemporary Mexican and British textile designers, fashion designers and artists, pieces from private collections, and much more.
From 1993 to 2009, Hilary was Head of the Costume Department at GMTV Breakfast Television.  In addition, she worked on film television drama, light entertainment and the theatre as a freelance costume designer.
A specialist in silk painting, she offers workshops worldwide at The Eden Project in Cornwall, England, Wildfiber in Los Angeles, and Artguat in Guatemala.   Her work has been produced on greeting cards giftwrap, books and book covers. Her images can be seen on the Bridgeman Art Library website.Lodging/Accommodations and Cost.  To keep this program affordable, we have selected a lovely B&B in Oaxaca City and a clean and basic B&B posada in Teotitlan del Valle, where most of our workshop is held.  Local meals are prepared by excellent cooks from organic ingredients made from scratch. Vegetarian options are available.

Base Cost: $1,595 per person double occupancy with shared bath facilities. Single rooms with private bath are available with a $300 single supplement.  Please tell us your preference below.  Use the Registration Form.

[ ] Option 1: I will share a room, double occupancy with shared bath, $1,595 per person.

[ ] Option 2: I prefer a single room with private bath for a total of $1,895 per person.

[ ] Option A: One-hour massage scheduled during open times in the weekly schedule. Add: $50.

Most travel workshops of this type and length cost more than twice as much! The workshop does NOT include airfare, taxes, tips/gratuities, travel insurance, liquor or alcoholic beverages, some meals, and local transportation to and from Oaxaca city.  We will arrange taxi pick-up and return from/to the Oaxaca airport at your own expense.

Reservations and Cancellations.   A 50% deposit based on your preferred options is required to guarantee your spot. The final payment for the balance due (including any additional costs) shall be paid by January 15, 2013. Payment is requested or PayPal. We will  send you an itemized invoice when you tell us you are ready to register.

We strongly recommend that you take out trip cancellation, baggage, emergency evacuation and medical insurance before you begin your trip, since unforeseen circumstances are possible.

To get your questions answered and to register, contact: normahawthorne@mac.com  Since we are in Oaxaca most of the year, we are happy to arrange a Skype conversation with you if you wish.

This retreat is produced by Norma Hawthorne, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC. We reserve the right to make itinerary changes and substitutions as necessary.

Felted Fashion Workshop: Making Wearable Art Oaxaca Style with Wool, Silk and Cotton

For hands-on fun, escape winter and come to Oaxaca from February 2 until February 9, 2013.  Together, during this one-week workshop, we will be immersed in the textile culture of Oaxaca to create naturally-dyed felted fabric combining wool, silk and cotton that can be hand or machine stitched into an indigenous clothing design of your choice.  Our experts, textile and fiber artist-clothing designer Jessica de Haas, from Vancouver, B.C., Canada and Eric Chavez Santiago from Oaxaca, Mexico, will show you how!


About Your Instructors

Jessica owns the clothing design company Funk-Shui and is an award-winning, internationally known fiber artist and teacher.  She recently completed an Arquetopia artist residency in Oaxaca, and taught and exhibited at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca.  See her website for bio and designs.

Eric Chavez Santiago, founding director of education at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, is a weaver and natural dye expert.  He has taught natural dyeing techniques  in Oaxaca and at  U.S. universities and museums since 2006.

Our Itinerary

First, working with Eric in his family’s home studio in Teotitlan del Valle, we will dye and over-dye wool roving with natural materials:  cochineal, indigo, wild marigold, pomegranates, nuts and other plants to achieve the colors you will use in your piece(s).  We will learn about mordant processes to fix the dye and dye extraction to create over 10 different colors.  Wool and dye recipes are included!

Then, working with Jessica in the courtyard of our B&B, we will felt our naturally dyed wool fiber on silk or loosely woven cotton or muslin, making a durable and beautiful fabric.  After your fabric is dry, you will have the option to cut and sew it into one of several indigenous Oaxaca styles:  the huipil (tunic), the blusa (blouse), rebozo (shawl), boufanda (scarf) or quechequemitl (cape).  Here is a piece from Jessica’s collection that you might like!

We give you a pattern book to choose your design! Below is a sample pattern for a quechquemitl.

This workshop is for all levels of experience!  You do not have to be an artist to attend.  We welcome beginners who have never worked in hand felting and more advanced fiber artists. This is a perfect residency for students, teachers and artists who may want to explore a different medium, too.

We will provide you with patterns for the basic indigenous designs that can be adjusted to fit.  If you want to contemporize them, we can help you tweak and make minor adjustments. If you have sewing or pattern drafting experience and want to experiment on your own, you are welcome to work on an independent design project after your fabric is made.

We will be based in the weaving village of Teotitlan del Valle where for generations families have been creating wool textiles.  During our time together, we will go on local field trips to meet and talk with weavers who work with natural dyes and weave fabric for wearable art as well as sturdier floor and wall tapestries.  We will see examples of the types of garments that can be created from the felted fabric we make.

Materials to bring (preliminary):

  • silk, loosely woven cotton, and/or muslin—3-4 meters (4.37 yards) minimum
  • beads, sequins, buttons, ribbons, embroidery thread and other embellishments  (we will also have a supply on hand that you can use, too)

Note: The materials listed are sufficient to make one garment. If you wish to prepare more than one piece of dyed felted fabric, you are welcome to bring more materials to dye.  However, it is likely you will only be able to complete one finished piece during the time allotted.

Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC will provide, included in your registration fee:

  • all instruction
  • 7 nights lodging
  • 7 breakfasts
  • 7 dinners
  • all dye materials
  • merino wool roving for one garment
  • pattern booklet
  • dye recipes
  • sewing machine to share, needles, thread
  • selected embellishments

Workshop is limited to 8 participants.

Daily Workshop Schedule:

Arrive Saturday, February 2, Depart Saturday, February 9 — 7 nights, 8 days

  • Day 1, Saturday, February 2, arrive and settle into your bed and breakfast posada in Teotitlan del Valle (we send directions)
  • Day 2, Sunday, February 3, natural dye workshop to prepare wool roving
  • Days 3-5, Monday-Wednesday, February 4-6, make the felted fabric on silk, cotton or muslin
  • Days 6-7, Thursday-Friday, February 7-8, create your pattern, sew and embellish the garment
  • Day 7, Friday, February 8, evening fashion show and reception
  • Day 8, Saturday, February 9, depart
(Preliminary daily schedule subject to modification.  

Workshop Fee:  $1,365 per person shared room and bath, double occupancy. Single occupancy with private bath, add $300.  Most travel programs of this type and length cost more than twice as much!


Option 1:  Arrive a day early, on Friday, February 1, and take a Zapotec cooking class on Saturday, February 2 with Reyna Mendoza Ruiz.  Includes one night lodging, breakfast, lunch, cooking class and recipes.  $110 USD each.

Option 2:  Saturday, February 9, guided visit to Yagul and Mitla archeological sites, noted flying shuttle weaver who only works with natural dyes, boutique Mezcal palenque in Matatlan.  Excursion includes transportation, lunch, supper, admissions, and overnight lodging February 9.  $125 per person.

Option 3:  Sunday, February 10, all day excursion guided visit to Tlacolula Market, including apron and rebozo avenues!  Includes transportation, lunch, supper and overnight lodging. $75 per person.

Option 4:  Saturday and Sunday Nights in Oaxaca City.  We will arrange your stay at a lovely Bed and Breakfast in the city where you can explore the shops and dine in great restaurants.  We will provide you with a list of our favorites.  $125 per night per person.

About Our Workshops, Retreats and Programs.  We offer educational programs that are hands-on, fun, culturally sensitive, and offer you an immersion experience.   Our workshop leaders are experts in their field, knowledgeable, have teaching experience and guide you in the learning process.  Our goal is to enhance your knowledge while giving you time to explore and discover.

About Lodging and Accommodations. To keep this trip affordable and accessible, we stay in a local posada operated by three generations of women — grandmother, mother, daughter — all great cooks! The food is all housemade (including the tortillas), safe to eat and delicious.  Vegetarian options are available.

Accommodations are clean and basic.  Shared baths are across the courtyard. (Bring flip-flops and flashlight.)   The base price of the trip includes shared room and bath; single supplement with private bath is available (add $300).   Please indicate your preference.

Your registration fee does NOT include airfare, taxes, admissions to museums and archeological sites, gratuities, liquor/alcoholic beverages, some meals and some transportation.

Deposits, Reservations and Cancellations.  A 50% deposit ($683) is required to guarantee your spot.  The final payment for the balance due (including any supplemental costs) shall be paid by December 15, 2012.  We prefer Payment with PayPal.  We will be happy to send you an invoice.

If cancellation is necessary, please notify us in writing by email.   After December 15, 2012, no refunds are possible; however, we will make every possible effort to fill your reserved space.  Your registration is transferable to a substitute.  If you cancel before December 15, we will refund 50% of your deposit.  We strongly recommend that you take out trip cancellation, baggage, emergency evacuation and medical insurance before you begin your trip, since unforeseen circumstances are possible.

To register or for questions, contact:  normahawthorne@mac.com  I am happy to set up a Skype call with you, too.  Skype name:  Oaxacaculture


Oaxaca, Mexico Weaving Examples: San Bartolo Yautepec

San Bartolo Yautepec Weaving Examples

Photo courtesy of the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, September 21, 2011.  I have written about San Bartolo Yautepec in the past on this site.  It is the home of extraordinary silk weaving.  You can see the intricacies of the patterns created above.  Not much is written about San Bartolo or its sister community San Carlos Yautepec.  Only the basic population statistics are available on Wikipedia.  So, if you are from this village in the Sierra Madre del Sur or you know about it, will you add your comments and insights and tell us more!  Thank you.