sHE IS ESMIRNA
& HE IS MANUEL
They are Esmirna Lazo Sosa and Manuel López González. They have 4 children and a lovely dog named Dasha. Both learned how to use the pedal loom since they were each 11 years old. They speak Zapotec and Spanish. They work with natural wool and dyes to create cushions and rugs of unmatched quality.
They live in Teotitlán del Valle, a place founded by the Zapotecs, who gave it the name of Xaquija, which means “celestial constellation”. Then the Aztecs arrived and renamed this place
“Teocaltitlán” – the place of Gods in Nahuatl. Finally, when the Spaniards arrived, the name changed one las time to Teotlitán del Valle. Along with the change of the name and language, the Spaniards introduced the pedal loom and the sheep breeding for wool. The pedal loom replaced the old method, the waist loom, but the way to dye cloth using plants, fruits and flowers remained.
500 years have gone by since the Spaniards arrived, and the people in this town have perfected generation after generation the technique of the pedal loom, creating a new cultural and anthropological context that defines this land.
more about esmirna & manuel
Esmirna and Manuel are a perfect match and team. They have the patience needed to create pieces that can take as long as two months to complete. Manuel specializes in dye techniques with natural elements. He creates colors and shades mixing all the different plants and fruits. He is considered an alchemist of colors, knowing perfectly what he needs to get the color and shade they are looking for. Meanwhile, Esmirna works hard on the pedal loom, making sure the threads are falling into place and creating the amazing shapes you can see in our wool products.
Here the four primary colors are unknown; the shades and colors they use are defined by nature and Manuel's knowledge. Here are some of the plants and fruits he uses:
Pericon is a Mexican medicinal flower that smells like anise when grinded. It is used to calm anxiety and keep scary thoughts away. When dry, Manuel uses it to dye the wool in different natural yellow shades.
INDIGO OR tlacehuilli
The beautiful blue shades come from the indigo flower. Manuel is a master on using the same flower to get completely different shades of blue.
Cochineal is a small insect that grows in cactus plants. When the insect’s body dries out, it is mashed an you get a beautiful carmine powder. When used wisely, you can get deep reds or pretty pinks.
From the walnuts’ shells, Manuel creates light brown shades.
Using the bark from the copal tree, also known as “White God” for the Mexicas, Manuel gets red-brown shades. This tree is sacred, as it is used for cleanses and spiritual rituals.
dry pomagranate peel
Manuel works marvels with this fruit and its peel, taking shades that go from yellow, to brown and even grey out of it.