Sunday, March 11, 2007

Mexican weaver

In Oaxaca we saw many beautiful wool rugs for sale. I bought two. We decided to take the bus out to the village of Teotitlan where the weavers of these rugs live. As we were discussing where to get off the bus, a nice gentleman sitting across the aisle of the bus, said, in perfect English "That is where I live. I will show you where to get off." When we followed him off the bus in the center of a sleepy little village he gave us directions to the market and church, then invited us to visit his weaving studio just across the street. Beautiful rugs covered the walls and were stacked on the floors. He took us to the back room where he prepared dyes from cochineal and a variety of plants, which hung from the rafters.

Cochineal is a tiny insect that lives on a particular kind of cactus (the white areas on the cactus pads below are where the cochineal are found) and yields a maroon-y red dye when crushed. When acid, such as lemon juice is added the red becomes a rich, orange-y red. The yarns for the rug behind the loom in the first picture were dyed, primarily with cochineal.

My friend, Muriel, purchased this beautiful rug, right off the wall of his studio.

In Oaxaca, I got this rug for my bathroom. The beautiful variety of natural green dyes were mostly from mosses.


  1. Anonymous3:18 PM

    Gorgeous rugs! I love teh subltle color combos. Do you think Muriel would let her's out on loan?

  2. Anonymous8:21 PM

    Gorgeous! How fortuitous that he was on that bus, for him and for you. I love your bathroom rug!


  3. I didn't know Cochineal would turn a brighter red with the addition of lemon juice. The next time I use it for dyeing wool I'll add some lemond juice and see what happens.

  4. In Judilee Fitzhugh's natural dyeing workshop at OCAC a couple of weeks ago, she mentioned that a Mexican dye maven will be teaching again sometime this summer. I'd love to play with cochineal. And mosses; talk about a renewal resource for us here in Portland!

  5. Ohhh, looks so great there. HOpe you had a wonderful time! I wish I could have gone to mexico this year.