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The very best of Mexican artesanía is represented in the fine handwoven carpets and rugs produced in Oaxaca, Mexico. Isaac Armando Martínez Laso, a third-generation weaver from Teotitlán del Valle, began weaving at a very early age. He won First Place for his creation, “Greca Frets of Mitla”. Although Isaac's speciality is tapete (carpet) wall hangings, he and his family also make floor rugs.
While deeply respecting tradition, Armando also loves to invent and to continue to learn new techniques.
Isaac's father, Francisco Martínez Ruíz, was born in 1963 in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, where he started to help in the weaving process at age eight. His father only had one loom and so Francisco began by finishing off the rug.
He earned enough money to purchase another loom and he began to work with his father’s designs, eventually finding his own unique style. His first carpet was a painting by Diego Rivera. He was very pleased with the outcome and learned other techniques, which he is now passing on to the next generation.
This family uses natural dyes that are prepared very carefully and laboriously, not only in respect to variety and subtlety of the colors, but also how well the fixer is mixed in (usually lime juice, sometimes the leaves of bejuco, a tropical tree). Natural dyes have a subtle beauty no chemical dye can match and do not rub off or fade.
There are various levels of quality in woven rugs. A good piece will be tightly woven, perhaps 20 threads to the inch; the poorer ones have as few as 10. The denser rugs last longer, keep their shape better whether on the floor or the wall and always look better. If a rug has a cotton warp it will be stronger and have more body, but the all-wool rugs are softer and more valued. Good rugs should have straight edges and lie flat. The dye shouldn’t run when wet.