Passing through rugged mountains on the road to Oaxaca.
In Oaxaca the traffic flow switched sides several times. One block you are in the US and next block in England.
We visited Maria Luisa and Fidel Cruz's weaving studio. They are 4th generation weavers and their son is the 5th.
The spectrum of colors is achieved using only natural dyes and ancient knowledge. Maria's husband Fidel prepares all the dies.
Maria showed us how the red dyes are prepared from the Cochineal scale insects that inhabit cactus.
Picking one off, she placed it in our hand.
When we crush the small grey lump, it turned red.
Maria crushing the cochineal. The baskets contain other natural dyeing agents, pecan, marigold, indigo and others.
The color of cochineal and many other dies can be altered by changing their pH. In general making the dye more alkaline makes it lighter, less intense. More acidic, darker.
Here are the results of changing the pH of the cochineal. Most acid on the right and most alkaline on the left.
Master weaver Fidel showing us how it's done.
This very interact patten is solely in Fidel's mind. Patterns are not recorded and every weaving is unique.
We were asked not to show photos of the finished pieces that were amazingly beautiful and expensive. ($300 - $1.400)
The studio of Jacobo and Maria Angeles
Jacobo and Maria express their Zapotec heritage by carving and painting traditional fantastical creations called alebrijes.
All the creations are carved from he Copal tree. This tree grow in a very contorted manner like a vine. The trees are harvested after 25 years, the wood soaked in gasoline to kill any insects and dried. The wood is then carved and allowed to dry again. Up to a year or two for larger pieces. The apprentices then fill all the cracks and imperfections.
Ruth checking out some pieces that have been sanded smooth.
Next master carvers reveal the alebrije they see in the wood. Each one is carved from a single piece of wood. The convoluted growth of the copal tree allows for all the whimsically shaped creatures .
There is also a one semester class for aspiring artists. They work in a much easier medium, acrylic paints.
This magnificent piece was done by a very talented artist shortly after completing the semester class.
The alebrije is passed from the master carver to the master painter. All painting is done with natural dyes that will never fade. Many are the same dyes that Maria used to dye her wool. The fabulous patterns and colors are the vision of the master painter, unless it is a commissioned piece.
This panther was purchased by a Mexican business man for $40,000.
Oh, that mythical bird I was standing in front of.
It is fiberglass, not wood, and from the premiere of the movie Coco.
The movie crew visited the studio to gain inspiration for the movie.
The grandmother in the movie was inspired by a woman that worked in the kitchen.
Some of Jacobo and Maria's personal work.
I love this pelican
Jacobo and Maria sharing a heart