A Life Changing Experience in Teotitlán del Valle with Huella Carmin & Nashun Pets

Last year, during my travels to Oaxaca, I visited an artisan workshop that specializes in making handmade rugs, dog beds, and hats.


Located in Teotitlán del Valle, Huella Carmin is run by an indigenous Zapotec family.


The Vásquez family values preserving ancestral traditions and has been creating their one-of-a-kind craft for five generations.

Pictured: The Vásquez Family at their studio in Teotitlán del Valle. Photo: Huella Carmin​​

When I first arrived at the studio, I was greeted by Rey David––one of the designers and artists for Huella Carmin


He had just arrived from the market and was making preparations for Día de los Muertos. 


Within minutes of meeting him, he made us feel en casa (at home), offering us pan de muerto (day of the dead bread) and mezcal.


The mezcal was strong, but smooth and complemented the cooler temperatures and earthy atmosphere of the foothills of the Sierra Juárez mountains.

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Image: Taller Huella Carmin in Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca​​
The space was magical. I loved it so much, I wished I could transport it back home to Brooklyn, New York.
Image: Huella Carmin in Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca​​

Decorated with Oaxacan green clay pots filled with cempasúchil flowers (marigolds) and flor de muerto (day of the dead flowers native to the region of Teotitlán del Valle), the smells were distinct, yet also felt familiar. 


Rey David lit some incense and I was immediately filled with comforting memories of my grandmother.


The studio felt sacred and spiritual and I was excited to hear what Rey David had to share with us.

Image: Master artisan Julia Hernández spins the wool into yarn. Source: Huella Carmin​​

The Process

During our visit to Huella Carmin, Rey David patiently walked us through what it takes to make one Zapotec rug.


While I knew it was laborious, I was shocked to hear it typically takes a minimum of 150 working hours (or over 18 working days since the artisans dedicate 8 hours a day to the craft) to create one product from start to finish.


Rey David walked us through the entire step-by-step process and we were able to test the techniques for ourselves. 


After completing the entire workshop, I’d have to guess it would take me at least one full year before I would be able to finish making my first product.


The process is intense and requires the endurance of an athlete and the patience of a true artist.


If you travel to Oaxaca, I seriously recommend visiting this taller (studio) so you can have a better understanding of this unique Zapotec craft and all it entails. 


For now, I’ll share the details with you in this blog post.

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Using natural elements like flowers and berries to create colors and dyes for the yarn at Huella Carmin.​​

The Step-by-Step Process:

1. Shearing Lambs


Huella Carmin specializes in creating products using natural resources.


Their process begins by shearing lambs, but don’t worry their methods do not cause harm to the animals and are sustainable.


After the wool fibers are collected, they are manually combed using special brushes (pictured below).

One of the artists from Huella Carmin brushes the wool fibers. (Source: Huella Carmin).​​

The wool is then cleaned so that the artisans can prepare it for the spinning wheel.


Afterwards, the artists spin the wool using a technique that involves holding the fibers with their fingers and controlling the thickness of the wool with the help of the wheel.

One of the artists from Huella Carmin turning the wool fibers into yarn using a spinning wheel. (Source: Huella Carmin).​​

I tried this myself and can tell you ––– it’s NOT EASY. 


I would guess that if I was given the task of converting 4.5 pounds of wool, it might take me all year.

Image: Attempting to use the spinning wheel at Huella Carmin.​​

Just for some perspective, creating one Zapotec dog bed takes nearly 5 pounds of wool and 35 hours to convert the wool into yarn.


Watching Rey David handle the spinning wheel with such ease and precision was truly fascinating.

2. Designing each piece

Inspired by their Zapotec culture, the Vásquez family has worked hard to preserve their ancestral techniques and traditional designs, while also creatively expanding their offerings to other products like dog beds and hats.


Creating new Zapotec-style textiles has allowed them to expand their consumer reach and attract new audiences, especially during the pandemic.

Julissa Vásquez grinds natural elements into powder to create dyes for the products. Source: Huella Carmin​​

3. Preparing the items to be dyed

The artisans use all natural elements such as flowers, tree bark, seeds, fruits, plants, and insects to extract the vibrant colors for their pieces. Once the colors are created, the dyed yarn is washed three times to ensure that the dyes do not wash out in the future.


Preparing and dying the yarn takes about 18 hours.

Image: With Rey David learning how to use a traditional pedal loom.​​

4. Weaving using a pedal loom

The soul of the items starts to take shape during this process.


The artisans use a traditional pedal loom to weave their designs. 


During the looming process, the artisans perform what they call a “Zapotec dance” pedaling their feet back and forth and moving the threads to create the designs of their ancestors.


If you’re not familiar with a traditional pedal loom, it’s exactly what it sounds like.


It’s a weaving process that involves using pedals and maneuvering them with your feet to weave the textiles together.


I knew it would take some level of physical labor, but I was most surprised to find out how much brain power it also takes to remember each step.


As a beginner, I needed Rey David’s help, but he explained that typically each family member jumps on a pedal loom by themselves and weaves the textile on their own.


Rey David taught me how to use the pedal loom and I can tell you from experience that it takes endurance to keep the momentum going.


While I wasn’t amazing at it, it was truly so much fun to participate alongside Rey David who was patient and made the experience both memorable and joyful.

Image: With Rey David working on the pedal loom.​​

Preparing the yarn and weaving the designs typically takes a total of 63 hours

5. Final Preparations & Stitching

Hand stitched finishes are given to each product, including a Nashun branded tag.

6. Material & Labor

All of Huella Carmin & Nashun’s products contain natural materials like cotton, wool, and vegan leather.Each woven dog bed is made of the following materials:

  • 90% lambswool yarn

  • 10% reinforced cotton fiber

  • Vegan skin

  • Stuffed with recycled materials

  • Lined with cotton and polyester fabric

  • Each bed includes a 100% cotton tote bag for storing

  • Total time to make one dog bed 147 hours (over 6 days)

Image: Each dog bed includes a 100% cotton tote for storing. Source: Huella Carmin​​

Huella Carmin & Nashun’s Products

Huella Carmin specializes in creating traditional Zapotec rugs, but in an effort to keep up with the trends and combat the economic turmoil due to the pandemic, they have recently expanded their offerings to include one-of-a-kind handwoven sombreros and dog beds.
Image: With my sisters trying on the stylish hats at Huella Carmin. We fell in love with the designs!​​

Dog Beds

In Zapotec culture, dogs are members of the family and should be treated as such.


The dog is seen as a companion both in life and in the underworld and should be given the same unconditional love that they give to their human family.


This is why, Huella Carmin, has chosen to launch––Nashun––a Mexican brand that offers high-quality pet products for your nashun.


Nashun is a Zapotec word, which literally translates to “spoiled” in English, but more accurately means “something you treasure and want to take care of in a loving manner.”


Huella Carmin and Nashun’s products also contribute to the development of artisan villages in Oaxaca.

Where to Purchase Nashun Dog Beds

We are so excited to share that we now carry Nashun pet beds at our shop! To check out all the styles click below.




Follow Nashun Pets & Huella Carmin on Instagram




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About the Author

LUISA NAVARRO

Mexican-American journalist, former national news producer, and graduate of Boston College and Columbia University School of Journalism. Her mission is to shed more light on the beauty and traditions of Mexican culture. This website is dedicated to her grandmothers, Tita Susana and Tita Lupita, who taught her to be proud of her heritage and to always remember where her ancestors came from.

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