Thursday, May 22, 2008

Summer 2007 Car Trip - 12

The next stop on the tour took us to Teotitlan Del Valle, the famous weaving village located about 15 miles outside of Oaxaca. As you approach the main part of the village, you pass house after house with rugs, blankets and sarapes hanging from their porches. Great banners of color and design waving in the breeze, inviting you to stop and fondle. Since we weren't in control, we did not stop at any of these but instead proceeded to the factory where we were given our tour.

We were ushered into an anteroom where they had chairs set up in a semi-circle around baskets of natural materials. The center of attention, however, was the giant loom sitting at the mouth of the semi-circle. Very similar to this one. (photo from the net, getty images)

The first thing they did was show us how the natural fibers were carded to blend all the fibers together and make a roving for spinning. The carders were passed around and everybody was given a chance to try their hand at it. People were amazed, no, shocked, when they could not do it. It looks so easy in the hands of a pro. There was only one person in our group who was able to do it and actually produce a roving to spin.....yours truly!

Since I had now had a roving in my hand, I was invited to the spinning wheel to see if I could actually make yarn out of it. Guess what? Piece of cake, even though I had never used this type of spinning wheel before and had to do it left handed. I guess I paid attention and learned my lessons well at the foot of these people.

Next we were given a "class" on native materials used for dyeing. I think everybody else was getting bored but I was mesmerized. Among some of the things were marigolds, bark, indigo and the cactus mold which turns the red demonstrated on the palm of the Argentinian girl. (she still had the stain on her hand the next day when we bumped into her downtown!)

This is the moldy cactus. The white stuff is plucked off and squashed. They use either lime juice or baking soda to increase or decrease the intensity of colors. Depending upon the plant, it may also totally change colors. I wanted a demo of all of this but it was not to be. We had to get out to the workroom.

We gathered around one of the master weavers for our demo. Notice that I pushed everybody aside and scooted right in where I could get a good view! I don't think anybody else really found it as interesting as I did anyway. The guide is showing us how wide of a piece he works on before bringing the shuttle down to pound the rug.

Here are a few pictures of the yarn, spun into singles and dyed, waiting to be used in the weaving process. Remember, all these colors are natural.

They really put a tight spin on the singles. I don't know whether it is on purpose or not. I would be embarrassed if I spun singles with such a tight twist.

Weaving demonstration over, it was time to hit the showroom! Which is also the salesroom. The first thing you see is this potpourri of small coaster size "rugs". These are actually practice pieces from the trainees. They use these to practice making different motifs, among other reasons. Although interesting, we passed these by.

Here's what we were after. Rugs! We ended up buying three, similar in color and design to these:

The amount of rugs on display was staggering. We are lucky we were able to even narrow the choices down and get the ones we did. Rugs, rugs, rugs everywhere! Every conceivable color, design and size. From these intricate ones include the Tree of Life.... just plain geometric designs. I love the fade on this one. The weaver told me that it was woven from one long continuous piece of yarn. I believe that it was all spun from the same fiber, but not that it was all one piece. I will bet my life that there are knots in it somewhere!

Here's another type of rug weaving. This one is done in pieces and beaten down with that small hand beater you see lying on it. The light brown square thing. Talk about a time consuming piece of art!

I have to thank the other members of our tour. They patiently stood around and watched us look at countless numbers of rugs being spread on the floor for our approval or dismissal. It took quite a while and cut into our tour time. But not one person complained and they all congratulated us on our purchases! Nice people.

With everyone safely back in the van, we pulled and headed for our next adventure....Hierve el Agua.

No comments: