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Rug making process

Rug making process


Rug Making Process

Our rugs are not factory-made using large machines like many large rug and blanket producers. They are made lovingly by hand, with each rug taking days and sometimes weeks to complete. The weavers of Oaxaca maintain the ancient practice of using locally sourced wool, creating plant based dyes, and using small wooden foot-looms that results in heirloom rugs that will last a lifetime. Here is the process of their amazing craft.

Gathering Wool

The process of making a tapete starts with the sheep's wool. Breeders from the nearby village of Chichicapam come to Teotitlan Del Valle to sell the wool. The sheep are bred high up in the Sierra Madre Del Sur mountains, where temperatures are colder and the wool grows thicker. The weavers use both light and dark wool.




Washing & Preparing Wool

The weavers then wash and clean the raw fleece in the rivers with amole, a root that serves as a natural soap and insecticide. After the wool is cleaned, it is carded by hand using two large wire brushes to soften it, then spun on a wheel into large bundles.


Collecting Natural Dyes

To create the colorfast dyes, many weavers continue the Pre-Columbian practice of collecting or buying plants and insects from Oaxaca’s resource-rich central valley. Ingredients used include the indigo plant, walnut shell, marigold pedals, mesquite, pomegranate skins, and even the cochineal insect that lives on the nopal cactus.



Soaked, Dyed, & Washed

The yarn is then soaked in dyes and washed. The dyeing process proceeding the weaving is very time-consuming. The weavers leave skeins of yarn in large pots containing the dyes for days and sometimes weeks, depending on the desired shade. After the dyeing, the yarn has to be washed four to five times again to remove any natural residue.


Design Inspiration

The weavers then choose their designs. Most traditional designs depicted on Zapotec textiles are based on pre-Columbian patterns. Some are based on stone temple carvings seen at the Mitla and Monte Alban ruins. Others are based on ancient Aztec and Mayan glyphs and deities. 




Now it's time to finally start weaving the tapetes! Most Zapotec weavers use foot looms, constructed of pine by local carpenters. The weavers typically have around three looms in their small-family run operations. For each tapete, the weavers warp a foot loom and begin weaving the rug. The patterns develop as the weaver adds new coils of yarn to the warp. Because the tapetes are handwoven, they can take anywhere from 5 to 70 days or more to complete, depending on the size.