Natural Dye Workshop

Natural Dye Workshop & Cultural Journey to Oaxaca,

An intimate visit to Mexico’s finest weavers and dyers. The trips showcase the traditions & evolution of the masterful techniques of the artisans, and their cultural heritage.


Immerse yourself in culture and in natural dye pots! In this extraordinary hands on workshop, we work side by side with a highly skilled & talented coop in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, where each member is dedicated to environmental, cultural and community sustainability. We work with “pericon”, cultivated in their organic orchard, to develop our yellows. Then using cochineal, a bug from the scale family that hosts on the prickly pear cactus, we will develop our various red hues. Finally, using indigo from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, we will produce a range of blue hues, as well as many overdyes that result in about 20 colors/hues—all from three primary colors! We visit ancient Zapotec sites to learn of the iconography and motifs that are still used today. Sampling regional dishes of mole and tamales will be in order, among many surprises along the way. Join us!


Trip Highlights:

  • Learn of the History of Cochineal.
  • Prepare cochineal, indigo and “pericon” dye baths.
  • Dye wool in primary colors and overdye to produce many colors and hues.
  • Receive a take-home “how to” recipe chart of all dyes prepared and used during workshop.
  • Visit organic orchard where dye stuffs are grown.
  • Take a Guided Tour of the EthnoBotanical Gardens.
  • Explore Ancient Zapotec and Mixtec sites of Mitla and Monte Alban.
  • Learn of the Ancient Motifs used in weavings.
  • Enjoy a special tour of the Museo Textil de Oaxaca.
  • Visit Tlapanochestli, to learn about the R & D and efforts to produce and market cochineal.
  • Eat delicious regional dishes from Oaxaca.
  • Visit local markets, coops and shops.


Trip Includes:

  • Accommodations
  • Expert Guides and/or Academics
  • Comfortable / Secure Transportation
  • Welcome and Farewell Dinners
  • Breakfasts
  • Meals according to itinerary
  • Water on Van/Coach
  • Airport Transfers
  • Entry Fees

natural dye


Note: Costs associated with trip interruption or modification due to weather, conditions, political/civil disputes, medical emergencies or other causes beyond our control. Travel Insurance is recommended for this purpose



Day 1: Arrive in Oaxaca City and depending on arrival time, stroll to the Zocalo to people watch. We enjoy a welcome dinner at Los Pacos to learn of the world of mole sauces!(D)


Day 2:We begin our day by visiting the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, a jewel of a museum that showcases textiles & artisans from Oaxaca, Mexico and the world. Following, we enojoy a very special guided tour of the Ethnobotanical Gardens adjacent to the Santo Domingo Church to learn about plants used for dyes, medicine and food. We break for lunch at a favorite Oaxaca restaurant, Itanoni, to learn about Amado’s project to revive native corn varieties. After lunch we enjoy free time in Oaxaca City to visit craft shops, coops and museums.( B, L)


Day 3: Traveling East in the Oaxaca Valley we visit one of the regions best open air markets, or “tianguis” in Tlacolula. Following, we enjoy a guided visit of Mitla, the ancient Zapotec and Mixtec site that is knows as The Place of the Dead. We’ll learn about the symbols and motifs carved into the walls of this Late Classic site, and we will later see how these motifs are still used today in Zapotec weaving designs. Lunch en route. Evening is free to explore independently in Oaxaca City. (B, L)


Day 4: We get an early start and transfer to the The Centro de Arte Textil Zapoteco, Bii Dauu, a fabulous coop in Teotitlan del Valle, where we begin our three day workshop on the History and Use of Natural Dyes in this Zapotec weaving community. Workshop Day One: Focus Color: Yellow. We will prepare dye baths from “pericon” tagetes lucida, a type of wild marigold. Before we dye, we will wash and mordant the wool before we begin our dyeing magic. We enjoy a delicious meal of tlayudas,tamales and quesadillas all made from native corn. (B, L)


Day 5: On Day Two of our workshop, we will extract colors and prepare dye baths with a focus on the primary color red and various red hues. Red dye in Oaxaca is synonymous with cochineal, a small bug of the scale family, that feeds off the nopal cactus. A stir was created when the Spanish saw the vibrancy and color fast qualities of this dye source and great attempts were made to export this bug for foreign cultivation and use in Europe. Before the microscope was invented, much debate existed as to whether this was an animal or a plant! In the early evening the coop members will lead us on a walking tour of their village, Teotitlan del Valle to learn more about the sacred traditions of the Zapotec people.(B, L)


Day 6, On day three of our workshop, we begin using the fermented indigo dye bath that we initiated on day one. Here, we will derive a remarkable range of colors, including various shades of blue, greens from overdyeing our yellow wool, and purples by overdyeing our red wool. Following our dyeing work and magic, we will receive closing remarks from our friends at the coop before we return to Oaxaca City. (B, L)


Day 7, Today, we continue our learning of the early Zapotec and travel to Monte Alban, the first urban center in Mesoamerica, and a city that evolved over a period of 1800 years from about 300 B.C. to 1500 A.D Thursday is market day in Zaachila, so we pay a visit to this village, stopping for a family style lunch at La Capilla. We visit the nearby artisan communities of Atzompa and Arrazola, known for their pottery and whimsical wood carvings.(B, L).


Day 8, Fridays are known in the Valley for market day in Ocotlan. We spend our morning visiting this vibrant community along with adjacent San Antonino, known for their floriculture. Returning home, we stop in the craft villages of Tilcajete, Jalieza and Coyotepec, known for their whimsical wood carvings, belts and bags woven on backstrap looms and the austere black pottery made by burnishing and firing in oxygen reduced environments. Returning to the City, we have a farewell dinner at Cafe Casa Oaxaca.(B, D).


Day 9: Return home or extend your stay in Oaxaca.

Photos From This Tour

























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