Dyeing with Zapotec Weaver José Buenaventura González Gutiérrez

By Lyra McGarry

Beginning on June 1, José Buenaventura González Gutiérrez will teach a full-week class on organic dyes at Instituto Allende.

Organic Dyes
Mon, Jun 1-Fri, Jun 5, 10am-5pm
Instituto Allende
Ancha San Antonio 22
2,100 pesos per person/ full week/materials included
415 152-0929

Gónzalez is from Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca. Teotitlán is a village known for its weaving, but it also a village where natural dyeing has, almost exclusively, been replaced by faster and cheaper chemical dyes. Chemical dyes were introduced around 1940, probably at a suggestion from tourists, but they are not without consequences. González would like to change all of that and is currently a member of a local organization, Arteova, that teaches weavers of his village to use what his Zapotec ancestors used before the introduction of chemicals. Earlier, González and four other men interested in organic dyes started a group called Bii-dau. They exchanged ideas and, with trial and error and after investigation with the older townspeople, much of the knowledge was recovered. Later Arteova started to teach anyone interested in organic dyes how to use them. About fifteen families in Teotitlán are learning organic dyeing. In addition, Arteova aims to certify and label organically dyed rugs. Organic dyeing is more costly and labor intensive than using chemical dyes. Hence, an organically dyed rug will necessarily sell for a higher price than a chemically dyed rug. With labeling, buyers will know exactly what they are paying for.

José Buenaventura González Gutiérrez dyes with cochineal bugs, pirul trees, indigo, walnut, pomegranate, zapote negro, achiote, marigold, and many other plants. He “fixes” (mordents) the colors, using only natural substances. The cochineal bug can produce a range of colors from deep burgundy to reds and purples and shades of each. González cultivates his own cochineal using nopal (prickly pear) cactus leaves, moving the female insect to a new nest, and restarting a process that takes about four months to complete. His life is necessarily tied to the rhythms of the organic dyeing process and to his weaving.

The hands-on workshop will include dyeing with cochineal bugs, indigo, and several local and easily obtainable plants, such as pirul. For more information or questions, contact González at josebuenaventura88@gmail.com Registration information can be found at the website of Instituto Allende at http://instituto-allende.edu.mx/en/art-workshop/organic-dyes/


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