Urbano’s Taller de Tintas
As evident in their products, Peruvian artisans really are masters of their craft. Following the Creativity Workshop, I was extremely excited to be invited to Urbano’s taller to watch him prepare and use natural dyes to create the brilliant colors commonly used in Peruvian textiles.
Urbano prepares yarn to weave a rug; the yarn is formed by hand-twisting pieces of the wool together. The variations in tone are due to the different colors of sheeps' coats.
The natural dyes are extracted from plants and insects gathered throughout the various environments of Peru, from the Selva to the Andes. This plant creates brilliant blues.
For more intense colors, the yarns are left longer to boil. Creating a matching dye lot requires incredible attention to the plant to water ratio, boiling temperature, and time in the pot.
Urbano's current rug requires over 64 bundles of blue yarn, and each bundle is dyed separately.
Peru has an extensive weaving tradition with techniques and looms indigenous to specific regions. Urbano’s 2-pedal loom is over 5 feet wide. Looms of this size are traditionally only used by men.
Back-strap weaving, traditionally used by women, is one of the most common weaving techniques in Cusco.
Many artesanos are reticent to show their personal designs for fear of them being stolen, so I was incredibly moved when Urbano shared his sketchbook with me and invited me to return to create new rugs with him. One day, I hope to take him up on that offer.
One reason this artisan community has been so meaningful to work with is the genuine sharing of ideas and learnings. I have been working to introduce the artesanos to new techniques for design and inspiration, and to foundational art concepts as they relate to artepreneurship; in return they have been teaching me about their ancient crafting traditions. Though we come from different cultures, we share a common love and appreciation for making, usando las manos.