The colcha embroidery club at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art
The traditional Spanish embroidery of Northern New Mexico, called
colcha, is based on a long flat stitch held in place by two or three smaller stitches made with the same needle and thread. Historically, the base fabric as well as the embroidery yarn were made from the wool of churro sheep, which had to be sheared, washed, carded, and spun by hand. The designs were of flowers, birds, and other delicate-looking subject matter, sometimes applied as a decorative border and other times almost completely filling the background textile. Julia Gómez, a retired school teacher who now teaches the art of colcha in Santa Fe, Taos, and Albuquerque, leads a colcha group at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art (750 Camino Lejo, 505-982-2226) on the second Wednesday of each month, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Though many regular members of the group have been working on the craft for years, beginners are always welcome, including visitors to Santa Fe. Gómez supplies all new students with a starter colcha kit and teaches them how to do the self-couching stitch, and then mentors returning students who want to move on to more involved projects. The cost to attend the colcha group is the price of an annual membership to the museum — $60 for an individual — which includes its own perks, including invitations to museum receptions and the museum book club. For more information, visit www.spanishcolonial.org.
Colcha embroidery teacher Annette Gutierrez Turk from Albuquerque, sporting an example of the craft