I sat patiently waiting at a bus stop outside of Chedraui shopping centre hoping the instructions I found online were correct. I kept my eyes peeled for a bus heading to Teotitlan Del Valle and listened carefully for something that resembled that, from the staff members that were often shouting out their final destination while hanging out the side of the bus.
Luckily, I sat next to a young schoolboy heading to the same place who said he would tell me when to get off. After around 30 minutes he signalled it was our stop, but excluding a Mezcal Farm on one side, we seemed to still be in the middle of a motorway. It turned out we needed to take a collectivo (a shared taxi) the rest of the way. A line formed under a tree on the other side of the motorway, so I crossed a bridge and followed suit. Before I knew it, a taxi turned up and the 3 people ahead gestured for me to join. I hopped in the spare front seat and accidentally shut the door on the person behind me, I hadn’t realised it would be a one butt cheek situation. It was a short cosy ride up the road, but I had made it to Teotitlan Del Valle, the famous weaving village renowned for weaving textiles since pre-Hispanic times.
Artisans today still use techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation. They begin by collecting raw wool from a nearby village and pull the fibres apart which makes it easier to clean. They wash the wool and separate it according to its natural colour (white, grey, brown or black).
Next, the wool is carded by combing it between two planks of wood with metal brushes. This needs to be done for at least 6 hours straight to make sure the fibres are clean and not tangled. The women made it look easy but when I tried, I could barely pull the brushes through once – it takes some real force! No need for a gym membership if you card wool for a living.
The wool is then spun into yarn on a hand-turned wheel. Only then are the yarns ready to be dyed. Artisans gather plants, fruits, bark, nuts and cochineal insects to create the natural dyes – which are then boiled on an open fire. They take pride in using native plants and insects to dye the fibres naturally as their ancestors once did. The colour intensity varies depending on how long the yarns are boiled for and how many times they are dipped. Weavers consider their designs and colouring in advance, so they know how much to prepare and avoid the headache of attempting to create the exact same shades with more wool to finish their piece.
When the yarn dries, the foot loom can be prepared and the weaving can finally begin.
Discover the range of magnificent pieces created by the master weavers of Teotitlan Del Valle in our collection below.