Tag Archives: Zapotec rugs

Oaxaca Rug Exhibition + Sale @ Dos Perros, Durham, NC, October 5, 5:30-8:30 PM

All Friends of Oaxaca Are Invited!

Oaxaca, Mexico Rugs For Sale: Handwoven with Natural Dyes

Most of these tapestries are handwoven by master weaver Federico Chavez Sosa from Teotitlan del Valle who uses 100% wool dyed with natural plant materials and cochineal.  I guarantee that these are THE REAL THING!  One of the rugs comes from my personal collection and has never been used.  Prices do not include shipping and packing materials.  If you tell me where you live, I will be happy to send you a quote for shipping costs.  100% of  the sales from Federico’s rugs goes directly to the family in Teotitlan del Valle.  I do not take a commission.  If you are interested, you may pay by check or PayPal.  Contact me at normahawthorne@mac.com

Diamond + Greca, $400, 36" x 50"

Zapotec Greca, $185, 2' x 3'

Greca Coral and Turquoise 2' x 3'

Traditional Greca, $400, 30-1/2" x 64"

My Soapbox: Beware of the Quality of Wool

First, let me say that my primary goal is to educate the consumer and to support weavers who invest in making the highest quality woven materials.  I applaud those who use 100% wool that is handspun, who choose the lengthier more time consuming method of using natural dyes to color their wool, and who refuse to pay high commissions to tour guides. It takes courage to take an ethical stand for quality.

Weavers have learned to cut corners and reduce the cost of raw materials in order to continue making the slim profits they need and deserve after paying hefty commissions (up to 50%) to the tour guides who bring them to Teotitlan from their hotels in Oaxaca City.  How do the people make enough money?  Volume sales from large tour groups is one way.  The other is to use less expensive synthetic, chemical dyes that cut the time in half, and the third way is to buy machine spun wool from commercial manufacturers.  Machine spun wool is thinner, prone to fiber breakdown over time, and less resilient to wear.  Because it has been processed, it contains less lanolin and will dry out.

The wool that comes from the Ocotlan mountain village of Chichicapam is handspun, thick, full of lanolin, resilient and strong.  Spinning wool by hand is an artform that is expensive because it is time-consuming and fewer women are willing or able to sit and spin for hours.  The irregularities of the thickness is what gives a high quality woven rug its texture and strength.

Master weavers in the village who recognize that their reputation for repeat business depends on making a fine woven rug will invest in using double strands of yarn to make a thicker quality product.  Of course, they will be using double the amount of yarn that is used in a typical rug which will cost them more.  They will often also incorporate mohair with the churro wool from Chichicapam that also adds strength and value.  Rugs made in this manner will last several lifetimes.

Today, Pantaleon Ruiz Martinez, a master weaver and noted oil painter, told me that he has used a washing machine and dryer when he lived in Oregon to clean his rugs that were made with pure wool and naturally dyed.  They didn’t shrink or discolor.  I would not recommend that, but this is his testimony to the strength and durability of a great rug!  He also lamented that many of the older women, including his mother, do not have the stamina to continue to hand spin wool.

Economic forces dictate that if there is not a demand for a product it will die out.  If China reproduces Zapotec rugs to bring prices down, and tradtional weavers trim costs to bring the prices down, then we become a culture driven by low cost rather than quality.  Please take the time to seek out small production weavers, people who do the work themselves and do not contract with other weavers, who adhere to quality standards and you will be doing your part for textile preservation.  You may pay a little more but you will be doing good in the world.

In Teotitlan del Valle, I recommend:

Federico Chavez Sosa, Francisco I Madero #55

Pantaleon Ruiz Martinez, Constituccion #12

Bii Dauu Cooperative, Calle de Iturbide

Arte y Seda, Avenida Benito Juarez #4

and the young weavers I noted in my blog post about the textile exhibition at the archeological museum of Monte Alban.

In Oaxaca, I recommend two shops next door to each other:

Galleria Fe y Lola, Av. Cinco de Mayo #408

El Nahual Gallery, Av. Cinco de Mayo #402

Glorious Color: Dyeing Workshop — Using Natural Materials

One and Two-Day Workshops in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico

If you are a weaver, a knitter, interested in cloth and textiles and you want to explore the world of natural dyes, you are invited to the famous rug-tapestry weaving village just outside of the city of Oaxaca. We offer this hands-on workshop for one or several people working with the master weaving family of Federico Chavez Sosa, his son Eric and daughter Janet. All instruction is in English.

Day 1: Explore the World of Cochineal

You will learn traditional Zapotec dyeing methods to prepare three shades of cochineal color – red, orange and maroon, learning the chemistry of color and the use of mordants. The Chavez family will explain the history of cochineal, and how it is cultivated and processed. You will see experiments with the “bug in the rug” and then practice using the color yourself to prepare glorious colors with hand spun wool from the Mixtec highlands of Oaxaca.

On the first day you will prepare three skeins of wool (200 grams each), wash it, assemble the cochineal and mordants, grind the cochineal on the traditional mortar, cut and squeeze limes that are used to adjust the color. During this time, you will come to understand the differences between natural and synthetic dyes and the mordant (fixing) process, dye with a neutral Ph to produce a maroon color, dye with an acid Ph to yield an orange, and dye with an alkaline Ph to achieve a purple or pink color depending upon the natural color of the wool selected.

This is a six-hour workshop. The cost is $160 per person including instruction and all materials.

Day 2: Explore the World of Indigo

You will learn the history of the indigo plan and how it is used to dye wool with traditional Zapotec recipes. As with the cochineal workshop, you will prepare the wool and the dye stuffs. We will use the Muicle plant that grows in the dry valley of Oaxaca, prepare the solution and dip the skeins until we reach the desired level of color intensity using the oxidizing method. You will also learn the theurea dioxide process, a different dyeing method.

This is a four-hour workshop. The cost is $130 including instruction and all materials.

You can enroll in a one or two-day workshop. Workshops are custom scheduled according to your availability and travel plans. Each participant will prepare and take home three skeins each of cochineal dyed wool and indigo dyed wool.

We also offer weaving workshops! and can refer you to great lodging in the village.

To Register: Contact normahawthorne@mac.com or (919) 274-6194.