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.