Monique’s Colcha Embroideries

I had a colcha expert write in! Hurray!!!! Today I’ll show two examples of Monique’s work. Next week I’ll follow up with information she gave me on the history of colcha embroidery. You can check the colcha embroidery section of my blog for past posts on the subject.

One very interesting thing about the colcha community in New Mexico is that many of them are involved in the process of weaving their fabrics and spinning or dying their wools. Monique buys raw fleece in Taso, NM then washes, combs, spins it onto a spindle, and dyes it with natural dye extract or plants from the yard.

The traditional wool is locally called Navajo churro, from the local breed of sheep. The original name from Spain was churra, but changed over the years. The breed nearly went extinct, but the Diné/Navajo saved it and thus it is now called Navajo churro. It’s still a rare breed.

This colcha depicts a family at a Mexican market. The design was inspired by works of Carlos Mérida, a Guatemalan artist who spent time in Mexico. The background cloth is nubby linen. The baby is in Merino wool from Renaissance natural dye. The orange top for the girl on the left, her skirt, the skirt and sleeve of the girl next to her, and the grandmother’s top and sleeve are embroidered with 2 ply churra (it also comes in 3 ply). The blue skirt and top are dyed with Woad. I think the rest might be in single sabanilla wool.

The colcha rose is a prize-winning work from the Taos Wool Festival. The background is knitted churra, and the rose is embroidered with 2 ply churra. The reddish embroidery wool was dyed with Madder chips by a friend of hers and the rest of the wool by Monique using weld and four kinds of mint.

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9 Responses to Monique’s Colcha Embroideries

  1. meri says:

    Such beautiful works!!! Congratulations to Monique! We want to see more of your work, pleeeeeease!
    And congrats to you too, Hannah for having Monique as guest.

    • Hannah says:

      Well, I have one more picture from her that I saved for the history post (wouldn’t want a post with no photos!)

    • Monique says:

      Thank you Meri.
      When I first saw a Colcha embroidery in New Mexico, I did not know what to was so different from the embroidery I saw in Europe and yet, the designs reminded me of Portuguese embroidery, Castelo Branco as you rightly pointed out. ( as a kid, a Portuguese neighbor taugh me how to stitch). Back to NM, I had to investigate further this type of embroidery. Now I do like it very much. Technically, it is forgiving. It is also fun and free wheeling It is easy but not simple.

  2. Elmsley Rose says:

    What wonderful work! And dyeing with woad, madder and mint! Mint! That’s a new one on me (I did a bit of a study on the dyes the Elizabethans used)

    LOVE the rose!

  3. Elmsley Rose says:

    PS – That’s just wonderful that that lady contacted you. 🙂 🙂

    • Hannah says:

      Yeah! More people should do that. I love getting email 🙂 🙂

    • Monique says:

      4 mints. Penneyroyale, spearmint, orange mint and peppermint with a dash of weld. The dark stem is the same combination with added iron water.
      I did not mix the madder with the mint, though.

  4. Linda Sylvester says:

    I love the “Family at the Mexican Market!” Maybe some day I will be brave enough to try to stitch people. Thank you Monique, for all you have taught me… Linda S.

    • Hannah says:

      You should try it! Just consider, if you choose a very stylized design, then no-one expects realism. People are wired to detect human images – that’s why cartoons work!

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