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The Bug that gave the World Red

We saw many things in Oaxaca but the most exciting thing to me was a bug called Cochineal (coach-in-EEL).

Just 14 miles south of Oaxaca in the village of San Bartolo de Coyotepec you will find the Cochineal Farm.  The official name of this farm is Centro de Difusion de Conocimiento la Grana Cochineal Tlapanochestli.  

A lot of the textiles are dyed with the blood (actually carminic acid not really blood) of the Cochineal.  Including the robes of Cardinals in Europe.  Listen to Señor Vicente telling us about the Cochineal.  

Did you get that?  Don't you just LOVE his voice?
Basically the bugs have this thing for the Nopal cactus (prickly pear) that is abundant in much of Mexico.  They raise the bugs on this cactus (which looks like fungus), dry them out in the sun to make them muerte (that's dead), and then harvest them.  Grind the dead bugs up for the red pigment.
Nopal cactus (prickly pear)
Dried Cochineal crushed.
Here's Señor Vicente showing us the red from a living Cochineal. He tells us that we can change the color by changing the pH.  

Oh goody!  I'm going to have fun with this. The only thing going through my mind is "Where can I get some of this stuff?".  Well as luck should have it they had a little shop.  

I bought a jar of this precious natural dye for $20 USD.    

If you ever find yourself in Oaxaca go visit this farm.  Be sure to take a guide with you who knows English.  That way you can get the scoop.  

AND while you are out there don't forget to visit the Museo Estatal de Arte Popular de Oaxaca.  There we got to see a wide variety of new folk/popular artists pieces.  They had a good collection of Art that was just OVER the top!  Here are a few examples for you. 

Sergio Guerrero Rodriguez
Sergio Guerrero Rodriguez
Sergio Guerrero Rodriguez
La carreta de la muerte
135x40x90 cm
Metal, acrilico y papel-piedra
$10,200.00 Pesos
And in the inside...
Sergio Guerrero Rodriguez
La carreta de la muerte
135x40x90 cm
Metal, acrilico y papel-piedra
$10,200.00 Pesos
Those were the things you could purchase.  Now for the things you can't purchase.
Carlomagno Pedro Martinez
Las Viejas/ The Old Women 2008
Barro negro/Blackware ceramics
Carlomagno Pedro Martinez
Papel Mache Pintado
Yesenia Yadira Salgado Tellez
Sueno Oaxaqueno
Plata 9.25, Joyeria Cartoneado con Turquesas
Jose Francisco Garcia Vasquez
EL Infierno
I wanted El Infierno SO MUCH!  Good thing for us that it wasn't for purchase.  I hope you enjoyed seeing my visit to Oaxaca.  Next up will be about the workshop with Thomas Mann here in New Orleans.  
Have a great weekend!



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