|Art Crafted from Recyclables
Handwoven Textiles, Tierra Wools, Inc.
Handwoven Textiles, Jose Isabel Quiroz Garcia
Industrial Technology and Traditiona Knowledge
|JG: This morning
Nena would like to talk you about. . .not so much the
weaving, but how you get the colors, the dyes. What is
(Real Audio 75 Kb)
Nena Russom begins weaving a tapestry on a horizontal loom at the 1998 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. The loom shown here is smaller version of the one she uses at home, where she stands while she works.
JG: One of the things that I am interested in is how science has helped you in the dyeing process. You probably dont use as much natural or vegetable color coloration process anymore. How has this impacted your traditional way of doing things?
NR: Well now because of the quantity of yarn that we need to dye, we use commercial dyes. And the common dyes that we get come in a powder form. They come in a big tin cans and we get a basic of about probably about eight colors--your basic reds, blues, greens, yellows, browns and blacks and depending on the color of the wool and how we mix those colors--thats how we come up with the different colors that we are able to come up with. We also use sulfuric acid as a mordant which is kind of dangerous. We dye our yarn in an open fire--over an open fire in a big metal tub, like that one back there. We pour in -- we use the its full of water, the water boils; we put acid into the water; we put the dye into the water; then we dip the skeins of yarn into the dye and the yarn absorbs all of the colors. So when we pull the yarn out of the bath, all thats left is clear water and then were able to change colors as we go along. So were not wasting the sulfuric acid. Depending on the weather--if its a warm day or a cold day--its real hard for us to get the exact same colors every time. Sometimes the community water has different chemicals in it if they are putting Clorox or chlorine into the water that will affect how the yarn absorbs the different colors. As so its real hard for us--you know if you come in and you say we want a rug in this color of green, well you might not get that color of green even if we use that same formula over and over again. For fifteen years, weve been trying to make recipes, you know, and name our colors, and it, it just doesnt work. Because everytime you dye--depending on how much oil in the wool and the shade of the wool--sometimes our white isnt true white. Its a little yellow, then we have to soak it in a vat of real light purple to get it back to white and then we can dye and try and get, you know, softer colors that we need.
JG: You have the open fires outside? What do you use for fuel for the fires? Natural gas? Wood?
NR: We use wood. We try and use oak. The water needs to be really hot, and with propane or butane, you cannot get the water that hot. So it can be in the middle of summer and it can be 80 degrees outside and you can be standing over a roaring fire and the waters boiling and the steam is in your face. So now we use face masks that are proper for this. You are breathing the fumes of the dyes and also the fumes of the sulfuric acid all day. We try to do it with propane [a cleaner fuel] and we just cannot get the water hot enough to boil.
JG: Thats interesting and why is it oak? Does it have more density? What is it?
NR: Oak, lasts longer. It wont burn up as fast and so thats what we use.
JG: And is that the type of wood is readily available to you?
NR: All the oak we use is from falling wood. Its already dry. It takes years to dry by itself. We are not cutting down new trees.
JG: What you are really doing is combining science with traditional ways. You still do things traditionally but science is impacting the things that you do.
(Real Audio 131 Kb)
* transcription edited for clarity
Sustainable Development and
Industrial Technology ]
[ Science, Technology & Invention in the Rio Grande ]
[ Impacto, Influencia, Cambio ]
[ History of Science, Technology and Invention]