Master Cochineal Workshop. October 7th - 10th, 2021. This 4 days class is going to be in person at the studio in Ventura, CA.

Natural materials have been used to produce dyes and colorants throughout much of human history. The cochineal insect is one of the oldest pigments used in Mexico and its color red was an important symbolic element associated with the gods, sun, blood, and rituals. Cochineal was used as medicine as well as to decorate buildings, murals, codices, and the human body itself. Its value as a commodity was equal to its value culturally and symbolically. 

This dyestuff is Porfirio Gutierrez’s particular passion and he has a vast store of knowledge on its provenance, usage, and application. For him, cochineal and its color are still sacred and precious. His practice forms a cultural context as a direct descendent of the civilization who helped domesticate and developed this gift that influenced cultures and artistic practices throughout the world. From this perspective, Porfirio teaches techniques to create the sacred shades of reds seen in his work and in his community ceremony garments. The fiber of choice for this workshop is wool yarn.

The Workshop

In this workshop, Porfirio is going to start by explaining the complexity of farming cochineal insects. From identifying the right cactus to breeding the insects. Harvesting and preparing the cactus for the infestation. He is going to demonstrate how to infest the insects into new leaves of cactus, explaining how the weather can affect their growth and their life cycle. He also going to demonstrate the harvesting and dehydrating of the insects.  Because the length of this workshop is not aligned with the life cycle of the insects this part is done on a demonstration dynamic guide by his current farmed insects at the studio.

Mordanting, grinding cochineal on a metate (ancestral grading stone). Preparing other dye plants that are used as a base color or to change the PH on the cochineal. Then begin to dye the first shades that are used as a layer to the reds. 

Explaining the science and chemistry of cochineal insects and how this relates to PH and color shifting. Continuing dyeing the first layers of colors and setting the indigo vat. 

Over dyeing to obtain the final shades of reds, purples, burgundy, oranges, and pinks. Explaining the proper washing of wool and going over appropriate soaps that can be used to wash naturally dyed fibers. This master class will be finished with a special traditional meal around a conversation and reflection about your learns, culture, plants as color, medicine, and food. Porfirio will be sharing how he is preserving his ancestral practice and his artistic journey, life in Oaxaca and California, and the influences he finds in both cultures. 

Logistics: This workshop is going to take place outdoors under the shade. There is plenty of room for people to spread out, even to work with a partner. We will follow the current health and Covid safety protocols. Porfirio is requesting that everyone who attends is vaccinated against Covid-19. You are welcome to wear a mask during the workshop, and He will have surgical masks available along with disinfectant wipes for cleaning surfaces. Lodging is reserved by the participants, Porfirio high suggesting to stay near the studio or at least the same city. 

Pricing per person:  $ 700 USD this includes, all dye material and skeins of yarns, and a special traditional meal on the last day. 

Changes and Cancellations: All sales are final with the workshop and we cannot accept cancellations. If you must cancel, your registration will not be refunded. If Porfirio must cancel this workshop, you will receive a refund of your registration. This master class is for all levels of experience. Limited to only 10 students. 

The workshop is from 10: 00 am - 4:00 pm every day with one hour lunch. 

To sign up please contact:

Please indicate how you will like to pay, we prefer Check, Venmo, Zell, but you can also pay with a credit card or PayPal.

Porfirio Gutiérrez at work in the studio