Artisan Organization: Jose Mendoza
"I'm very proud to be a craftsman committed to the preservation of weaving on a handloom. My whole family is expert in this craft, and it was inevitable that I would fall into the trap of this beautiful tradition.
"I've been practicing with wool fabrics and natural dyes every day since 2004. It's fascinating to know that a truly potent tincture can come out of any plant.
"I think that the biggest challenge and one that will always be there is trying to match dimensions and colors since these variants depend mostly on nature and the environment. But we have achieved it satisfactorily, as well as improving quality. It has helped us to form a better team, we are more united, and we work together to try new techniques and patterns. The way we work helps us in our projects, to be peaceful and enjoy them.
"Being able to share time with my family every day has been the greatest benefit, and we are grateful to you for allowing us to spend more time together.
"We have increased production and innovated some designs. Now we want to expand the workshop to work more steadily and teach interested members. I love working with you because you value the work of each artisan and give us the opportunity to grow steadily and export to other countries."
Original Artisan Story
"I was born in a Oaxaca town that was settled in 1465. It is described as the land of the gods in the Nahuatl language, and as at the foot of the mountain in the Xaguixe language of the Zapotec people. This region is rich in customs and traditions.
"I feel very proud to be an artisan. I work on a handloom to weave wool rugs, bags and ponchos, dyed with organic colors derived from the plants that flourish here, as well as cochineal, a tiny insect found on prickly pear cactus. This yields a deep red color. For yellow, I use marigolds, and pecan shells for the brown tones. Indigo gives us natural shades of blue. The time it takes to create a rug varies according to its size and color, but an artisan usually needs a month to finish one. Its value depends on the colors, materials, size, and, especially, the complexity of the design.
"When I think back to my childhood, my memories are both difficult and marvelous. My mother had to work hard to provide for the family. I'm very grateful to her. She found the strength to continue working in spite of everything. She is a very strong woman.
"My brothers and sisters and I are very close. We're always there for one another, and I smile when I think of how well we get along.
"I began when I was nine years old and, by the time I was 15, I made my first rug — from the designing to the dyeing to the weaving. I currently have my own workshop where I work with my family. We're a great team. We are like finely-meshed gears and always split up the tasks equally.
"I think weaving and creating new designs are what I enjoy most in life. My inspiration is a bit curious. An idea comes to mind and I immediately make a drawing. Then, I add colors and this leads to a beautiful rug. Most of my work uses symbols from the archaeological sites in Oaxaca, like the carved stones and decorative fretwork found in Zapotec temples.
"I'm passionate about weaving, and it lets me support my wife and son. They are my biggest motivation to continue working. When I first decided to work on my own, it was complicated but I feel proud to have achieved it.
"Each rug teaches me something new about becoming a great artisan, father and husband. This art is something I'd like to preserve, since I've always thought weaving offers my community a way to keep our history and traditions alive.""