Camelia Ramos Zamora
Your new rebozo was made in this place
We searched all over Mexico to find the perfect rebozo and we found it in the work of Camelia Ramos Zamora.
Camelia has made the preservation of traditional rebozo weaving her life’s work.Her technique has been passed down through five generations. She was taught by her father, the master weaver, Don Isaac Ramos Padilla.Don Isaac had abandoned his work as weaver to become a bricklayer. He was known to have said, “Mucho tiempo, poco ganancia”. (So much time, so little profit.) But at Camelia’s urging, he came back around to teach her everything he knew.
Each one of her pieces is a unique work of art. The larger rebozos can have as many as 5000 threads of warp.
In her workshop just outside of Malinalco, Camelia, her husband José and a handful of skilled workers create each piece painstakingly by hand on backstrap and pedal looms.
In total, several days of labor go into the creation of each piece.
Before weaving begins, the warp is resistance dyed to create the Ikat pattern.
Preparing the warp before it is placed on the loom
All of the dyes used are made from natural sources: indigo for blues, seeds and husks from the Guisache tree for brown and beige, and reds and purples from cochineal, an insect cultivated specifically for use in dyes.
Cochineal is an insect cultivated in Nopal cactus.
After weaving is finished, a few feet of thread is left at each end.
Camelia hand-carries the partially completed rebozos to remote villages in the mountains surrounding Malinalco. It is here that the “empuntadoras” complete the work of hand knotting the ends which are known as “rapacejos”
Camelia personally trained the empuntadoras, who play a valuable role in creating each rebozo. Her relationship with the women goes beyond business. We observed a warm friendship and mutual respect.
The villages where the emputadoras live consist almost entirely of women. Husbands go off to the United States to send money home and often never return, leaving mothers and daughters to fend for themselves.
The work that Camelia brings helps them to earn a living at a fair wage in a region where human trafficking of women is a known problem.
Camelia and José are building a weaving school adjacent to their workshop. Not yet complete, it is taking shape a little at a time as funds become available.
It is Camelia’s hope that soon, she’ll have a platform to teach traditional Mexican weaving to future generations.