cochineal dyeing with Porfirio Gutiérrez
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Cochineal dyeing in the Zapotec tradition with Porfirio Gutiérrez

August 20, 2022 @ 10:00 am - August 21, 2022 @ 4:00 pm


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Join Maestro Porfirio Gutiérrez for a 2-day workshop on the history and use of cochineal in its cultural context

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 red color 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.

Join internationally renowned natural dyer and textile artist Maestro Porfirio Gutiérrez to learn about the rich history of the Zapotec natural dyeing technique in its cultural context, and to explore and learn the principles of this lost art in a 2-day workshop.

We will explore the science and chemistry of cochineal insects and how this relates to pH and color shifting. We will learn to mordant yarns and create secondary hues by over dyeing. Maestro Porfirio will teach of his spiritual understanding of the color red, nature and its relation to traditional medicine, healing, and ceremonies. He will expand on the sacred red colors used in his community procession, and his journey on revitalizing the ancestral Zapotec natural dyeing technique to create over 200 different color hues, all from nature.

The class is limited to 15 students, and will take place at the beautiful Fibershed Learning Center on Black Mountain Ranch near Point Reyes Station, CA. (Address provided upon registration.)

Two days of intensive study with Porfirio, 6 hours per session, which will include:

  • Information about the history of natural dyes and what has been lost
  • Demonstration of techniques
  • Preparation of yarns
  • Dyeing the first shade of cochineal
  • Over-dyeing to obtain 4 shades of red
  • Discussion of mordenting and materials
  • Discussion of proper washing techniques
  • Responses to student questions

Students will be taking home yarn samples in 4 shades of cochineal.

Enroll here:

Please bring your own lunch, snacks, and beverages (water bottle/travel mug). Lunch is not provided. Please wear comfortable clothes that can get stained.

Fibershed Scholarship Program
Fibershed is offering two scholarships to most workshops; one scholarship if it’s a small class. If you would not otherwise be able to attend, and would like to be considered as a scholarship recipient, please answer a few brief questions on this Google Form. Responses will be reviewed by Learning Center staff and kept strictly confidential.

Textiles Trunk Show & Presentation
There will also be a trunk show of the weavings of Porfirio Gutiérrez, open to the public on August 20th from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm, with a 45-minute presentation at 6:30 pm on Zapotec textiles having a seasonal imprint and being a historical document, holding both climate and culture. More information here:

Cochineal is Maestro Porfirio Gutierrez’s particular passion and he has a vast store of knowledge on its provenance, usage, and application. The approach to his work communicates a spiritual understanding about plants, the cycle of nature, colors, medicine and food. For him, cochineal and its color are sacred and precious. His practice forms a cultural context as a direct descendent of the civilization who helped domesticate and develop this gift that influenced cultures and artistic practices throughout the world.

Gutierrez is the leading artist in the revitalization and recognition of the lost Zapotec ancestral natural dyeing techniques. His work has been exhibited internationally and is in the collection of the National Museum of American Indian at Smithsonian Institution, Fomento Cultural Banamex, the Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares, and Arizona State Museum. A selection of the Gutiérrez dye materials has also been documented and added to Harvard Art Museum’s Forbes Pigment Collection, the world-renowned archive of artist materials. He has lectured for major institutions around the world and has given workshops to Harvard University students as part of the university’s summer institute for technical studies, as well as other institutions that have a deep appreciation for natural dyes. The story of his work has been told in The New York Times, the BBC, and in Vogue magazine.

Porfirio Gutiérrez Studio, photo by Liz Fish

Photo above by Liz Fish; cochineal grinding photo at top by Soraya Matos; portrait of Porfirio Gutiérrez at top by Joe Coca, 


August 20, 2022 @ 10:00 am
August 21, 2022 @ 4:00 pm
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Fibershed Learning Center
14000 Point Reyes - Petaluma Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956 United States
(415) 455-3070‬
View Venue Website


Fibershed Learning Center
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Fibershed Learning Center
14000 Point Reyes - Petaluma Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956 United States
(415) 455-3070‬
View Venue Website