Last month while in Oaxaca, our friend Vera introduced us to Josefina and her family of weavers. Josefina immediately welcomed us in with open arms and between our translations and body language, we were able to piece together a bit of what goes into weaving and being a textile artisan. We met her mother Hermelinda (78 years old and has been weaving for 70 years), her daughter Gloria, and her husband Portefino. We were also told her father and a few other family members help out. It was the definition of a family business that has been passed on through generations.
Josefina and her mother then demonstrated the process of how they created their dyes all with natural materials and the tedious steps involved in prepping the materials to be woven. For example, using the base plus pomegranate creates a purple, but adding a little lime changes the color entirely. The brushing, spinning, and dying of the materials alone often takes at least two weeks.
I began to appreciate the value more once I learned about the process. Depending on the intricacy of the design, one textile can take anywhere from three weeks to a couple of months. It’s important to learn about the artistry, where things are from, who creates them, and the time and effort that goes into the items that you purchase. I left their house that day with a new rug made by Portefino himself and an expanded understanding of why it’s important to support artisans directly.