Wool Purses With Vegetable Tints
Our purses were made by Liliana’s family and their community. Liliana and her family belong to the Zapotec indigenous people and their primary language is Zapotec. This is how they make our beautiful purses:
First, the artisans shave the wool from their sheep, which is then cleaned and made into threads using a rustic wooden spinning wheel. Wool can come in different colors: white, gray, dark gray, and black. Then, the artisans boil water in huge stainless-steel pots and add the vegetable dye to the water with the wool threads. The longer the wool stays in the colored boiling water, the deeper the colors will turn out to be. Once the wool threads have been colored, they are taken out of the pots and are left to dry with the wind. Following this, the colored threads will go on the rustic looms where the artisans will work on to make the designs for purses, mats, and carpets. Once the designs are completed on the loom, they are cut, sewed and stitched into purses.
The artisans obtain all the dye colors from nature items, as follows:
Red: The red color is made with “cochinilla”, which is an insect that attaches to cacti. They have to clean it and dry it out in the sun. Then they grind it on a stone “metate” and add a bit of water to it. This process takes one week.
Yellow: The yellow color is made with “pericón” (also known as “Santa Maria” or “yerbanís"), which is an herb/grass that is native of Mexico and Guatemala.
Blue: This color is from “índigo/añil” , which is a kind of vegetable coal. It has to be grinded in a stone “metate”. It takes the artisans more than one week to extract this color.
Brown: The brown color is obtained from the pecan nutshells and coconut shells.
Black: The black/dark brown color is obtained from the seeds of the “huizache”, which is a native Mexican tree.
Orange: The orange is made with yellow (pericón) and red (chinchilla) dyes.
Green: The green color is made from yellow (pericón) and blue (añil) dyes and the help of the wind.
Pink: The pink color is obtained from the “cochinilla”, using white wool thread.
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