The date of the workshop has been changed to July. So for any of you who could not attend in February-this is your chance! We will be processing (fermenting) our own indigo with the traditional method using only plants-then learning how to dye with it. The process of fermentation takes a few weeks to complete. But, in the meantime we will be busy dyeing with other plants from Mexico!
This is a hands-on workshop so you will be handling the dyes and the wet fibers. It’s best to wear old clothes or bring an apron. A hat will be helpful for walking to and from the cafe/bathroom.
Most students bring a notebook and pen for getting all the details of organic dyeing.
The workshop takes place outdoors, on a covered/shaded patio in “El Charco”-a botanical garden and land preserve in San Miguel de Allende, in Guanajuato. There is a small cafe on the grounds that serves freshly made breakfast and lunch.
Payments can be made directly to El Charco
For more information about El Charco
To contact El Charco
If you have any questions about the workshop please contact me using the contact me icon on my website.
TRAVEL AND LODGING INFORMATION
The closest airports are Queretero, Guanajuato and Leon, Guanajuato. The Mexico City airport is only about 4 hours by bus. (Do not hail a cab in Mexico City. Use only authorized taxi stands inside the airports and bus terminal) If you need help finding accomodations in San Miguel please let me know. San Miguel is a clean and very safe city. But, as with any city, use common sense when traveling.
Organic Dyeing Workshop
I will be giving a workshop in San Miguel de Allende starting Monday Jan 27, 2014.
March 14,15 and 16, 2014 I will be having a workshop at the nature preserve and ethnobotanical garden, el Charco del Ingenio in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato. In this workshop I will teach how to dye with local materials such as cochineal bugs, pomegranate, walnut, and pirul.
This is a hands-on weekend-expect to jump in and create colors with me. We will have several pots of dyes going at the same time-reds, yellows and browns-and then we can make lighter shades and combinations of these colors.
Here are some photos from the last workshop in el Charco. Enjoy!
For a full week participants from Mexico and the U.S. learned the basics of organic dyeing at my outdoor workshop at el Charco Botanical Garden and Preserve in San Miguel de Allende. The location was gorgeous and spacious, and the staff at el Charco helped with every aspect of the workshop.
The first days we studied how to prepare the wool for dyeing and making dye baths with materials from local trees, flowers, husks of nuts, and ground seeds. We obtained skeins of yellows, browns and greens from these dyes, and then we experimented with other types of cloth and silks.
Then the students learned how to dye with the bug, cochineal, which produces many shades of brilliant red, maroon, pink, and purple and if mixed will also produce many shades of orange. The students took turns grinding the cochineal in the “molcajete” –an ancient kind of mortar and pestle-and then dyeing the wool.
For the final days of the workshop we set up an indigo vat and began dyeing with indigo! We obtained gorgeous shades of emerald green that, before our eyes, changed to blue when exposed to oxygen. Then the students used some of our yellow yarn and obtained beautiful greens! One student, a renaissance artist, tied up his dyed yellow fabric before submerging it in the indigo vat and obtained a beautifully mottled green fabric.
Thanks to el Charco for designing the diplomas which the students received on Friday afternoon.
I am looking forward to teaching the next workshop at el Charco in February 2013. I plan to do three weekends of organic dyes with a focus on indigo, which is the most time consuming of all the natural dyeing processes. But for now I am heading back to my Zapotec village, Teotitlan del Valle, in Oaxaca to meet with a group of tourists in my home to show them the basics of dyeing and weaving. Then we will celebrate the Day of the Dead-“Dia de los Muertos” !
Teotitlan del Valle
My village, Teotitlan del Valle is a rural Zapotec village, east of the Central Valley of Oaxaca, and about 30 km from the city of Oaxaca. It sits in the foothills of the Sierra Norte Mountains.
“Teotitlan del Valle” is the name given to my pueblo by the Aztecs. Before the Aztecs arrived we called our village “Xguia” which has several possible translations. One translation is “At the Foot of the Hill (or Stone)” and another is “Enchanted or Magic Village”. For the Aztecs Teotitlan meant “Place of God”, and my village has been known to the public by this name since the arrival of the Aztecs, although we still call it Xguia.
It is believed that my ancestors have been living in this area for over 3,000 years, and they had, by 1600 BC, built the site now called San Jose de Mogote. My ancestors later built the great site of Monte Alban, after leveling the top of a mountain to do so.
Today most people living in my village still speak the Zapotec language and also Spanish. The Zapotec language we speak is one of about 60 recognized Zapotec languages in Mexico. Along with the Chatino language it forms the Zapotecan subgroup of the Oto-Manguean family. I still study Zapotec in my village, although it currently has no written language. It’s believed that in the past it was written, and some scholars think it was the first written language in the Americas.
We started a museum in the center of town in 1992 and opened it in 1995. I was happy to be on the committee that rebuilt this area and to help with the artifacts and displays. The museum has four areas. One is for Zapotec artifacts from archeology sites within my town. The second area shows the history of textiles, for example showing the backstrap loom and wild cotton. The third area displays the traditions of my village, such as the way we do traditional weddings. This area includes a photo of my parents in about 1960 because they were then the mayordomos (caretakers) of the altar of the church. The fourth area is dedicated to the Feather Dance (Danza de la Pluma) a dance well known in Oaxaca and still practiced today in my village in festivals mostly in July and December.
If you have a chance to stop by Littlestone Upholstery Designs at 210 W. State St, Ithaca NY (2 blocks from the Commons) my rugs are on display there, in the big window in front.
Anne Steinle, the owner of Littlestone, is an extremely creative upholsterer. She will be giving an upholstery workshop at the Finger Lakes ReUse Center later this summer. You can also view her work at http://www.littlestoneupholsterydesigns.com/
There’s also a small display of indigo and cochineal bugs, so you can get an idea of what these look like. I use both of these in my rugs along with pomegranate, pecan and marigold, and many other plants. The bugs on display I cultivated in Mexico and the indigo is from the Isthmus of Oaxaca. Many of the dyes I used in Mexico aren’t available in New York, so I will be experimenting with plants from this area. I will let you know how I progress with some local plants!
Cochineal is cultivated on the pads of prickly pear cactus-which probably won’t grow in New York-so my kids will be taking over that process for a while.