Weaving Oaxaca

Experience Zapotec arts and culture with the Gutiérrez family

September 19 - 29, 2018

West County Fiber Arts is pleased to collaborate with Porfirio Gutiérrez and family to bring an intimate group of travelers to Oaxaca, a land of tradition, ancient arts, creativity and change.

The capital, Oaxaca de Juárez, is a UNESCO World Heritage site filled with Colonial era stone buildings, yet it hosts a thriving contemporary art scene and is home to wonderfully innovative projects that work to connect old traditions and the modern world. The ancient Zapotec communities of the Central Valleys Region are deeply rooted here; these ancestors were the first cultivators of corn and may have created the first written language of the Americas thousands of years ago. In this trip we will focus on one of the region’s most important villages, Teotitlán del Valle, and explore the connections which bind it to the rest of the communities in the region.

This exclusive textile and travel experience gives us a taste of the ancient and contemporary, the seemingly permanent and the dynamically changing. Our hosts, the family of Porfirio Gutiérrez, will introduce us to ancient rituals inherited through generations and see how our work speaks to modern times. Through hands-on dyeing and weaving workshops, artisan studio visits and home cooked meals, we’ll meet the people who are the soul of Oaxaca. With visits to places like the Oaxacan Textile Museum and San Agustín Arts Center we’ll get a taste of the cutting edge pulse of this ancient place. There will also be moments for contemplation as we wander the ruined palaces of a fallen Zapotec kingdom or simply put our feet up with a cold lemonade on the Zocalo in the afternoon.

Porfirio's family welcomes all of their guests as honored new friends and invites us to share in the daily rhythms of his family’s life. With groups of no more than twelve visitors at any time, they can offer us a personal experience defined by their traditions and culture. Our support of this program helps sustain their way of life and gives them tremendous potential for connecting future generations to their heritage and history.

Read about the Gutiérrez Family in the New York Times.

Scroll down to read the itinerary — detailing the places we will visit and the hands-on workshops at the Gutiérrez Family studio.


The cost for this exclusive travel opportunity is $2,300 per person, double occupancy. A single supplement of $350 charged for anyone requesting a private (one-person) room. 

Group Size: limited to no more than 9 guests, plus 2 West County Fiber Arts staff.

Trip price includes:

  • 10 nights’ hotel accommodation in Oaxaca City (comfortable, small, 3-star hotels that have a family feel and are well-located) and in Teotitlán del Valle (comfortable, small, family-run bed and breakfast)
  • Meals noted in the itinerary
  • All ground transportation in private van with multilingual interpreter and guide
  • Workshops and daily programs
  • Printed list of places to explore in the city, from art galleries to shops and great places to eat and people-watch in the Historic Centro
  • Tour hosts from West County Fiber Arts

Trip price does not include:

  • Airfare
  • Travel insurance (recommended)
  • Discretionary personal expenses
  • Some meals, as noted in the itinerary
  • Alcohol purchases
  • Personal shopping

We will be happy to help anyone wishing to extend their stay beyond the itinerary.

Cancellation Policy

We require a 50% deposit ($1150, or $1325 for those with single supplement) to hold a spot on the trip. The balance is due by July 18, 2018 at the latest.

Cancellation Fees:

  • From July 18 to August 18, 2018​ — 50% of ​fee refunded ($1150, or $1325 for those with single supplement)
  • After August 18, 2018 — no refund
  • ​If someone cancels before July 18, 2018, and we can fill their spot, we will refund their deposit minus an administrative charge of $200.

West County Fiber Arts Trip Cancellation:

West County Fiber Arts reserves the right to cancel the trip if it has not filled by July 18, 2018. In the event that we do cancel the trip, all deposits will be refunded in full. Though we will make every effort to fill the trip, we cannot guarantee it will take place, therefore travel insurance is recommended for all who purchase airline tickets.


Registration is Open

Email hello@wcfaschool.com to enroll
and you will receive an invoice for the 50% deposit.
(Cost details above. Balance due by July 18, 2018) 

Travel Itinerary

Itinerary subject to changes.

Arrival: Wednesday (flying on Volaris LAX-OAX, arrive 8 PM). Hotel in Oaxaca.

Thursday, Day 1: Walking day in Oaxaca City

We’ll start our day together at 8 am with a welcome breakfast at the hotel, then have a short morning walk to discover the Centro Historico. At 11 am we’ll tour the famed Ethnobotanical Garden, the creation of master artist Francisco Toledo. The organizing concepts of this spectacular garden will inform our travel experience and provide us with themes to explore in Oaxaca’s history, art and culture. A leisurely walk after lunch to the Museo Textil and San Pablo Cultural Center galleries will round out our first day. Dinner on your own in the city.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Friday, Day 2: Zapotec History and Culture, Mitla and Teotitlán del Valle

After an 8 am breakfast at the hotel we will be on the road! Mitla occupies a significant place at the center of Zapotec culture. We’ll explore the archaeological site and then share lunch before visiting a traditional mezcal palenque. We’ll travel up the road to introduce you to our community, Teotitlán del Valle, meet Maestra Viviana, a renowned beeswax candlemaker, then visit our 18th Century church and nearby community museum that highlights Zapotec heritage and customs. After checking in to your room, we’ll visit the studio to share a home cooked dinner before relaxing in anticipation of our hands-on workshop days.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Saturday, Day 3: Natural Dyes — Indigo, Cochineal and Pericón

Today is the first day the entire group will dive into natural dyes, with Porfirio’s sister, Juana, as our instructor. She’ll guide you through the first day of preparing the añil fermentation vat, show you how cochineal is cultivated and ground on the metate, and show you her wool dyeing methods with cochineal and pericón. Some of today’s first colors will become tomorrow’s secondary colors by overdyeing with indigo.

Sunday, Day 4: Overdyeing with Indigo

Juana’s speciality is creating subtle colors through overdyeing, so today you’ll learn some of her methods of achieving an array of purples and greens. Adding these hues to yesterday’s reds and yellows will give you a traditional palette for your own weaving project over the next three days. As the afternoons wind down you can share in preparations for the main meal, from grinding corn for our tortillas to whipping the hot chocolate with a molinillo for a sweet finish to the day.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday, Days 5, 6 & 7: Zapotec weaving — 5 floor looms & 5 backstrap looms

Our weaving heritage has given us unique tapestry techniques that we’ll explore with you over three days of weaving your own piece with our naturally dyed wool yarns. Master weaver Antoño will introduce 5 students to tapestry weaving on the floor loom, explaining how Zapotec motifs that have evolved over centuries and guiding you through your own design. Our guest instructor is a backstrap weaving master and he will work with 5 students who want to learn backstrap techniques. This is an engaging method for beginning or intermediate weavers to explore. You’ll have three days to finish your weaving. As Wednesday winds down we’ll all gather to show what we’ve created, talk about what we’ve learned and enjoy a special dinner to celebrate our creative spirit!

During breaks in the workshop schedule you can try flipping tortillas on the comal or wrapping tamales in banana leaves while the midday meal is prepared in our outdoor kitchen. We’ll all share in the daily rhythms of life in a working family studio. After our main meal you can continue to work on your pieces or have a stroll through the village and continue to learn how a community of thousands of weavers and artisans go about daily life.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Thursday, Day 8: Oaxaca City Free Time

Departing Teotitlán after breakfast and saying farewell to Juana and Antoño, we’ll stop to see the magnificent Tule Tree, one of the world’s oldest, on our way back to Oaxaca City. You can check in to your hotel and then we’ll share a lunch together before free time to explore the historic centro, do some shopping, and relax. Suggested Activities: Santo Domingo, Oaxacan Culture Museum, MACO. For shoppers, the Textile Museum store, ARIPO and Los Baules. Anyone interested in a private mezcal tasting class, we’ll make reservations at Mezcaloteca in the evening (300 pesos/person).

Included meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Friday, Day 9: Oaxacan Craft Traditions — Alebrijes and Embroidery

After breakfast we’ll visit the studios of good friends and master artisans who create beguiling carved and painted alebrijes. In their same village we’ll spend time at an embroidery studio, learning about their distinctive patterns and styles. A traditional Zapotec lunch in San Martin Tilcajete is included in today’s feast for the senses. You’ll have some free time back in the city after lunch before we share a farewell dinner at Los Pacos to make sure everyone has their share of mole and mezcal.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Saturday, Departure Day: Volaris flight from OAX to LAX departs 10:25 AM; check out of hotel by 8 AM

Guests wishing to extend their stay may request help with hotels or additional activities.


Registration is Open

Email hello@wcfaschool.com to enroll
and you will receive an invoice for the 50% deposit.
(Cost details below. Balance due by July 18, 2018) 

Juana Gutíerrez Contreras — natural dye instructor
Juana Gutíerrez Contreras — natural dye instructor
Antoño Lazo Hernandez
Antoño Lazo Hernandez — weaving instructor
students learning to prepare cochineal and indigo for dyeing yarn
Students learning to prepare cochineal and indigo for dyeing yarn
Ethnobotanical Garden in Oaxaca
A visit to the Ethnobotanical Garden in Oaxaca
Santo Domingo Church, Oaxaca
Santo Domingo Church, Oaxaca
Palace at Mitla
The Palace at Mitla

Porfirio Gutiérrez
Porfirio Gutiérrez — master weaver

Opportunity in Northern California


Zapotec Natural Dyes
with Porfirio Gutiérrez

August 18-19, 2018
at West County Fiber Arts in Sebastopol

Click for Information and Enrollment

The Gutiérrez Family
The Gutiérrez Family