Saturday, December 8, 2012

Dye workshop in Chinchero with Braulia

Photo by Emerita
 Braulia, at the beginning of the day. My heart is beating fast from excitement and thankfulness that this experience is really part of my life and ... of course because we are up around ... well, I think close to 4000 meters altitude (3760m in fact) and I am only used to ..... close to 3000 meters. But we are outside, and the sun is shining, a hen is clucking around in the yard and there is firewood by the woodstove - the pots on the wall are ready to be taken down and filled with water,  dyematter and skeins of white wool ready to soak up the rainbow of my desires.
Photo by Emerita

 This is not yet my yarn, these are the examples of colourful joy which Braulia presented me with so I could make a decision as to what I fancied getting into.  And did I ever fancy - all of it! It was hard to choose - the Indigo skein was a 'for viewing only' skein, due to the long process of indigo dyeing that was not available to me but......  other dyes were -

Photo by Emerita

 Cochineal was one of those dyes - and I got to grind them by hand, sitting on my knees - when Braulia showed me how to do it, she used swift little low energy movements, I would say that I sort of had a full body experience, not being used to be on my knees, or bending over the grinding stone or holding a big round beautiful rock in my hand to crush the little creatures - it was all very zen - I had to make it zen, breathe in and out, be there, right that minute, not somewhere else - and all of me enjoyed every moment of being right there.

Photo by Emerita

The pots were stirred. In this case it is a large aluminum pot which was designated for the cochineal - the other pots were all clay pots, nice and black on the bottom from all the use they had had. Always over an open fire, always outside. Braulia had run down to get firewood shortly after we arrived. She was only gone for a few minutes and returned with her lliclla (carrying cloth) full of eucalyptus firewood. Eucalyptus is not indigenous to Peru, but it grows readily and has been planted to hold on to mountainsides and prevent erosion - and thus, this is what is used in the dye and cook stoves.

Photo by Emerita

This is .... a dried flower producing a beautiful yellow.  I have to look up the name - am not sure where I wrote it down -
for the green we used chilca - an indigenous bush/tree - with sticky leaves and a green green yellowy colour - boiled with the wool and .... this is bad - I forget if there was a mordant to start with, perhaps alum - but i know that at the end we added sulphur - and that turned the yarn a dark pungent green.
Photo by Emerita

Thinking back I am trying to remember .... what did we use for mordant and for a second or two I felt like shaking myself a bit for not taking better notes. However, then.... forgiveness came flying towards me instead for .... rather than taking notes I stayed true to what I wrote just a few lines up - I was there, I enjoyed the moment, I listened to Emerita (a most excellent adventurer and treasure finder from Apulaya, the centre which I was so fortunate to be going 'to school' at) and to Braulia. They spoke Spanish, shared information, stories etc  .... my Spanish was not and still isn't great, but... the sound of their voices was delightful and my eyes were full of wool, dye and colour, so what more could I ask.

Towards the end of the day there were many more skeins hanging in the sun and the wind. Those two yellows, two reddish ones, the one purple and the green one are all mine, mine, mine! and I brought them back with me on the bus from Chinchero to Calca. I have started to back strap weave a broader belt with some of this yarn - after I added extra twist into it, the layers upon layers of prep and knowledge needed and used in this whole process is ..... lovely, challenging and delightful.
drying wool in front of an earth pigment painting by Emerita

Originally it was 'only' a three hour morning workshop that had been set up for me with Braulia, in the afternoon I was 'scheduled' for a walk along the Inca Trail in Chinchero ..... however, there is always room for change in this life and ... thank goodness for that. I did not walk the trail in the afternoon .... we hung out here and only made it back to Calca around 7 in the evening. What a day I had had!
Emerita from Apulaya took all the photos in this post - I am thankful that she allowed me to delve into this joyful event without having to pull the camera out every other moment. It was a day of fully being.... 

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