Threads of Peru Blog

Culture & Color: Cataloguing Andean Dye Plants

Combining the methods of traditional anthropological research with a modern perspective to work with and sustain developing communities in a global economy, has been an interesting challenge for Threads of Peru intern Alexa Jones. 

Alexa purchased a beautiful wedding table runner directly from a weaver from Rumira Sondormayo

Alexa purchased a beautiful wedding table runner directly from a weaver from Rumira Sondormayo.

She says, “It is amazing to see how Peruvians mesh cultural tradition with modern technology. They are suspended between the old and the new, clinging to ancient practices while adapting to a rapidly globalizing world. Organizations like Threads of Peru help to maintain ancient craft traditions that would otherwise be lost, along with the stories of native communities. It’s been an incredible experience helping keep those stories and traditions alive.” 

This vibrant red and turquoise are only a couple of the naturally produced colors.

This vibrant red and turquoise are only a couple of the naturally produced colors.

Alexa’s internship focused on natural dye plants native to the Andes. For three months she researched the diversity of dye plants that grow in the area; which included reading previous works, interviewing master weavers for their knowledge, gathering and cataloging the dye plants, and creating color sample books.

After nearly 3 months of work, Alexa along with master weavers Daniel Sonqo and Andres Sallo produced this great selection of colors

After nearly 3 months of work, Alexa along with master weavers Daniel Sonqo and Andres Sallo produced this great selection of colors.

She also organized two natural dye workshops in order to produce all of the primary shades of TOP's color palette dyed on wool and alpaca, one in the community of Huaran with master weaver Andres Sallo, and one with master weaver Daniel Sonqo at his home in Parobamba.

She has completed a set of labeled color samples, along with the basic dye recipes and information about each plant and also conducting short interviews with the weavers in order to update the “Communities” section on the Threads of Peru website. 

Alexa preparing each batch of dye during the workshop in Huaran

Alexa preparing each batch of dye during the workshop in Huaran.

Alexa Jones was a cultural research intern for the past three months with Threads of Peru.  As a recently graduated Spanish and Anthropology double major from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she felt she was able to put her skills to good use working with Threads of Peru and said, “this has been an incredibly insightful and invaluable experience! I am so grateful to have been part of the Threads of Peru team, along with all the other awesome staff and volunteers here in Cusco who I’m happy to call my friends.”