Fco. in the "castillo" studio
When one steps outside one's doorstep in Mexico, one never really knows what they will find. My neighbors build traditional "castillos" or Mexican firework displays. Their home is their work studio, as well as the sidewalk and street. This being Pascua or Easter week, the firework displays are in great demand...and a central figure in the parades and celebrations is the Judas figure.
Judas Figure y Fco.
And for Easter week we hosted the first Weaving Week In Axixic festival...a week of carding, spinning, dyeing and weaving demonstrations.
The reason for the festival was to bring together master weavers from Oaxaca and California in Ajijic to share their experiences and knowledge with each other and to demonstrate to the local community their art/craft thereby communicating the value of this work to the general public.
The areas of Ajijic and Jocotepec were important weaving centers, at one time, and the art of weaving has been slowly disappearing from the areas throughout the centuries. By providing demonstrations and exhibits of the processes of weaving we hoped to preserve this important, ancient craft. Maestros Lucio y Antonietta had centuries old dyeing techniques to share with Brad and the Ajijic community.
We are fortunate to have master weavers Lucio y Antoinetta Ruiz, from Oaxaca, in our small town.
Lucio at work in Ajijic Plaza
Oaxacan traditional weavers, Lucio and Antonieta Ruiz, make Zapotec tapetes or rugs. Their work is famous throughout Mexico. The weavers live in Teotitlan del Valle in the Oaxaca Valley. Their town lies 350 miles south of Mexico City.
Nopal Pad with Cochinilla
The impressive red colors that Lucio y Antoinetta dye come from the Cochinilla insect, that lives on the pads of the Nopal cactus plant.
Lucio y Jose Luis Build The Loom
Pericone Dyed (yellow) and Natural Colored Wool Yarns
The weaving traditions of Mexico are a national treasure. The Zapotecs of Teotitlan del Valle are famous and respected for their determination to maintain their traditional culture while adapting to the realities of the modern world.
Natural dyes, such as the deep indigo blues and bright cochineal reds, are derived from plants, minerals and insects. Some weavers continue the laborious and ancient alchemy of natural dyes.
Both men and women card, spin and dye the wool and families typically pass on their weaving skills and particular styles to their children. The beautiful colors, patterns and designs created by the Zapotecs are a unique mixture of cultural tradition, family innovation, customer request and artistic exploration.
Lucio Watching Antoinetta Grind Cochinilla
Brad Spinning (mesmerizing) Passersby
The Zapotecs live in hundreds of villages throughout the Oaxaca Valley. While the federal government of Mexico provides and runs free schools in the villages, it has no political authority within them. Each village functions as an autonomous unit. In Teotitlan all important communal decisions are made by its municipal committee led by a headman, according to ancient custom.
Lalo and Brad Share Weaving Yarns
Brad Examining a Oaxacan Spinning Wheel (Rueca)
Some of Maestro Lucio's Natural Dyed Wool Yarns
Antoinetta y Lucio Hang Their Treasures
Vendors from Michoacan Are Fascinated With Brad's Carding
Finally the weaver attaches the strands of washed wool to the loom. The colored yarns will be woven across these white yarns.
Weaving a tapete is complicated. It takes almost a week just to prepare the wool.
First the wool is washed to remove dirt and oil. The wool is then carded and spun. Next the wool is cooked in a big pot of boiling water and dye. Each color requires a different pot of dye. The dyed yarn is then hung in the sun to dry.
Later each color must be untangled and wound onto spools, ready for weaving.
Maestro Lucio Grinding Anil (Indigo)
Indigo Dyed Wool Yarn
All Our Friends Enjoyed The Week Long Afternoon Demonstrations
Julian (our Huichol friend) Shares His Info With Us
Brad y La Maestra Antoinetta Confer
Carding Can Be Fun!
Cochinilla Dye Bath
Fco. Surrounded by Beauty...Can Life Get Any Better Than This?
Our other friend, Cresencio, makes these amazing baskets....Hanna sits with
the basket Cresencio made and delivered to me that day.
My brother Paco meets Local Celebrity Vino Blanco
Recycled Bottle Raft Project
Another dream made reality was our recycled bottle raft. Having a plastics recycle center helps in obtaining the needed bottles. Brad had been collecting just the right bottles for this project...and this week, we launched!
Brad With Parts
Things Starting To Come Together
Stabilizers Are A Good Idea
Capt. Fco. Ready To Launch
So we did (launch)! We've been polling our way across the lake since....happy with ver. 1.0 Brad is already redefining the design and visualizing improvements for ver. 2.0