Oaxaca is undoubtedly one of the textile centres of Mexico but it is impossible to define Oaxaca through a single textile. The variety and the richness of this state make people come from all over the world to admire, discover and buy. Embroiderers, weavers, artisans, designers and artists all want to take and understand a little piece of Oaxaca.
The universe of Oaxacan textiles includes an infinite number of colours and natural dyes, textures and fabrics, designs and embroidery, threads and yarns. Each handcrafted piece tells a story, many stories, that are woven in cotton warps, in coloured wefts, in crossed threads and in hidden knots that result in a canvas created almost unintentionally.
Owning a textile piece from Oaxaca is not just about paying and taking it home. It is also knowing and admiring the work of so many people, so many hours of labour, of silences, of shared hours, of radios and background music, of the rain on the roof while the strings move. This world of textile creation is what the members of Central Textil wanted to promote with their project.
Isabel Gijón, Ainsley Warner and Carolina Garza, brought together ideas, knowledge, and dreams to create a space that fosters Oaxaca’s textile and artistic community, a place where you can go to learn, create and share techniques, stories and experiences. Central Textil was born as a place of closeness, coexistence and community. The main interest of the three members was based on the idea of having a space dedicated to textiles, each one with their own specific dreams, experiences and interests.
Ainsley Warner, originally from Australia, worked as a social worker for 13 years as well as making and teaching basketry with a range of natural fibres. After years of working in mental health and trauma, she decided to move to Oaxaca to focus on the creative side of her life. When she arrived in Oaxaca, Ainsley organised to do a range of residencies and courses in natural dyes, bead looming and different traditional embroidery techniques. She then went on to dye the different natural fibres she used in her basketry. Ainsley still makes some woven jewellery but is now more focused on beaded jewellery. One of Ainsley’s dreams and main objectives in opening a textile space was to provide workshops, talks, events and exhibitions, which is what she focuses on at Central Textil.
Isabel Gijón, from Oaxaca, came to the project with the vision of a space that provided sewing machines to those without access, in the form of a sewing school. She studied Fine and Visual Arts in Oaxaca at the Escuela de Bellas Artes and completed a degree in Fashion Design so a big part of the project draws on her knowledge of design and dressmaking. Isabel has worked in a variety of communities in the Istmo teaching sewing and patternmaking and also offers private sewing lessons at Central Textil. Isabel also works with natural dyes and makes embroidered earrings, as well as designing and making her own line of lingerie.
Carolina Garza, from Tamaulipas, was a founding member of Central Textil however has recently left to focus on other textile projects. Carolina’s dream was to have a haberdashery with artisanal products and unique tools that couldn’t be found in Oaxaca. She was also dedicated to natural dyes which she continues to work with.
This textile space, located in the Xochimilco neighbourhood of the Oaxacan capital, has been open to the public since March 2021 and offers various services for anyone involved or interested in the textile world or, simply, for those who want to know and learn about it. Central Textil goes beyond a typical sewing and textile store and has a unique range of haberdashery materials not easily found anywhere else. Their stock includes a range of naturally dyed products as well as vintage items from the 1960s and1970s that were sourced from a local woman who was selling her family’s haberdashery collection that spanned generations. Buttons, laces, ribbons, closures, beads, lace collars, metallic fringes and other little treasures were cleaned, counted, and packed with the Central Textil logo to give them a new life. You can also find handmade and naturally dyed products like bobbins and skeins of naturally dyed threads, t-shirts, tote bags, and lengths of fabrics.
They sell cotton fabrics by the metre including muslin, gabardine, canvas and a range of pedal loomed cotton that was produced by Textilera del Manantial, a family of artisans in Pueblo Nuevo. Through this collaboration with Alvaro and Jose Lopez, brothers and owners of Textilera del Manantial, Central Textil also produces unique and one-off textile pieces by weaving their naturally dyed cotton skeins on pedal looms.
You can also go to Central Textil to work. They rent tables for anyone working on creative projects, with access to sewing machines, cutting tables, irons and everything you need, by the hour, day, week or month.
When we see Oaxacan textiles, the first thing that strikes us is the colours. Many of them, when they have a certain quality, are made with natural dyes that we can find in the environment and often, we do not even know that a particular plant or specific flower is the origin of so much beauty.
Therefore, another of the services that you find in Central Textil is the dyeing service. They offer fabric dyeing in six colours, all of them natural: blue (indigo), red (brazilwood), yellow (pericón), green (indigo and pericón), purple (brazilwood and indigo) and orange (pericón and brazilwood). You can take clothing, threads, fabrics, any natural fibre, and they charge by weight. This service was born as a recycling option to give clothes a new use with natural processes.
The members of Central Textil offer their space so that other people can give workshops related to textiles. They do the organisation, management, promotion and dissemination. Upcoming artisan sales and natural dyes, textiles and cyanotype workshops are announced on their Instagram account @central.textil.oaxaca.
Every Thursday, they have an open afternoon so people can come with their projects and create what they want at a large table, with everyone working together. They are afternoons for conversation, embroidering, painting, weaving on a backstrap loom, to do anything, there are no limits and it doesn’t have to be something textile related. Even if you just want to talk, you can meet people who are dedicated to textiles or artistic, creative techniques. Everyone is welcome.
Dr. Gilberto Bolaños Cacho 101B, Xochimilco. Oaxaca de Juárez.
Monday to Saturday: 11am – 6pm
Creative Thursdays: 4 – 7pm