Shibori, Ikat and Sustainability

the 10th International Shibori Symposium

Oaxaca, Mexico

Last November, I had the good fortune to attend the 10th International Shibori Symposium, held in Oaxaca. Three hundred or so participants came from all over the world to gather and talk about tie-dye and related matters. There were exhibitions, demonstrations, workshops, talks, studio tours and assorted opportunities to meet world-renown textile artists, teachers and scholars. After a week of immersion in everything textile, on my way home I felt like excess information was leaking out my ears. Many thanks to the Portland Handweavers Guild for the study grant which helped me get there!

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Shibori Symposium opening remarks in the San Pablo Cultural Center.

November is a great time to visit Oaxaca, when the tourist load is somewhat lighter, but the weather is comfortably warm during the days and nights are comfortably cool. A lot like late summer is here in the Pacific Northwest. The food was fantastic; I never had a bad meal. Not everyone speaks English, but the locals appreciate when you try to communicate in your rudimentary Spanish, augmented by signing and gestures.

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The zocalo, or central plaza, is busy night and day with people dining, vending, or simply people-watching.
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Every bar serves a dish of fried peanuts and lime with your drinks.

My hotel was two blocks from the zócalo with its restaurants, cafés and nightlife, and directly across from the Museo Textil and neighboring San Pablo Cultural Center, where a lot of the symposium activities took place. I loved being centrally located, within a few minutes’ walk from restaurants, shops, markets and local sights.

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The Bandhani Flags installation over the courtyard of the Museo Textil.

Highlights of the week included the exhibits in the Museo Textil, the Ethnobotanical Garden, trips to CASA (Centro de las Artes de San Agustín), the studio of the Chávez Santiago Family of weavers in Teotitlán del Valle and Tlapanochestli, a cochineal farm. There were other tours I did not have time for on this trip, but would love to take another time. Check out all the cultural tour offerings of Traditions Mexico. Oaxaca and nearby communities are a textile destination!

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The Sierra Madre looming over the Ethnobotanical Garden.
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Federico (Fe) Chavez and son Omar in their weaving studio in Teotitlan del Valle.
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At Tlapanochestli, a cochineal farm outside Oaxaca, visitors view a film, walk through an exhibit, learn about the “infested” nopal paddles, and purchase packets of the red dyestuff. They also have classroom spaces for dye workshops.
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The Sunday market at Tlacolula. My camera can capture images and even sound, but I wish some device could record the SMELLS! Here are flowers, fruits and herbs – an overpowering scent.
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November 20 is Mexican Revolution day. Parades, music, costumes and the cutest little revolutionaries!
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