In Lourdes and her family we have found what World by Hand looks up to: courage, motivation, love, friendship, beauty, and diligency. I met Lourdes in early 2016 in the market where she was selling her family rugs. She rescued me from a splinter in a finger and immediately started teasing me about my blonde companion. A month later we were already designing the seats of our travel trailer, and just some days ago we finished designing new beautiful rugs.
Ten days to Oaxaca, nine days to Oaxaca, eight days to Oaxaca…. The first thing we did when we arrived after several weeks driving down Mexico was to head to Lourdes’ house where she served us a delicious dinner and we talked for hours over tasty mezcal. She had already been working on one design for the rugs we had been discussing over the phone, I was honest and said it did not go the right way,she showed me a surprise second one that was gorgeous and closer but still the next day we prepared for a long journey of carpet looming to reach our perfect final product.
Lourdes and Jacobo were so happy to be on camera, to show us the whole process, they are so proud of their profession (or one of their professions as this was the season where they also sell nuts in the market). They buy the wool already cleaned in another village, then the wool is carded and the thread is prepared into yarn in a wheel, this makes all the fibers become straight to then be able to dye them. Dying the wool took us a long while as they prepared four different colors with all natural ingredients that are boiled in water from half an hour to an hour and a half each to get the right colors. If you want green, you use pericol leaves (they usually leave them to dry for many weeks if you want the green to be stronger), for orange they use ground cempasuchitl flower, for browns and grays they use nutshells. Red is from ground cochineal and to make the colors stronger you also squeeze some lemons in the mix.
The wool is washed before and after the dying and it is left to dry in the sun. When this long process ends, the wool then can be prepared to be loomed. It is amazing all the hard and beautiful work put into this, the dedication and discipline to get all the perfect colors, to then make their beautiful designs and the carpet one of a kind.
Grinding cempasuchitl with Lourdes
Natural dying of the wool