There are shelves from floor to ceiling of multi-colored rugs and tablecloths and pillows in rich earth tones. I was in the new showroom of Casa Oaxaca.
The owner, Alberto Contreras, who moved here from Oaxaca, tells me about wool, spinning, weaving, and natural dying with plants. His Zapotec family have been weavers and dyers for over four generations.
At the entrance are baskets of unwashed wool, skeins of naturally dyed yarn in lovely colors, and a pine loom where Juana, Alberto’s mother and master weaver, gives demonstrations.
There are 20 basic natural dyes from which 1400 colors can be made! The two most popular are the reds from the nopal cactus insect cochinilla and the blues from indigo made by boiling the leaves of the indigo tree. The dye making process is very complicated and done by only certain family members who have been trained in this skill.
The raw wool comes from Oaxacan sheep and must be washed to remove dirt, sticks, and other debris before it is ready for carding and spinning. One kilogram of dirty wool gives half a kilogram of clean wool after washing!
This shop has been Alberto’s dream for many years. Stop by and say hello. Casa Oaxaca, Aquiles Serdan #377
By Sandra Cesca, freelance writer, cultural photographer, and tour guide
Photos: Sandra Cesca