Nestled in the foothills of New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains lies the village of Chimayo, a small, historic town teeming with heritage, tradition, and culture. Only a 40-minute drive from the heart of Santa Fe, Chimayo is a destination for historic landmarks, beautiful scenery, and storied weaving shops.
One of the most celebrated weaving shops in Chimayo is Centinela Traditional Arts, a family-owned and operated business run by husband-and-wife pair Irvin and Lisa Trujillo. Together, they create beautiful, expressive woven works that push the boundaries of design while preserving traditional weaving heritage.
After visiting Irvin and Lisa’s weaving studio and getting a behind-the-scenes look at the traditional Chimayo weaving process, our designers knew a collaboration with these artisans was meant to be. To create the collection, the Ariat team worked closely with the Trujillos to embrace the nuances in Chimayo design and the tradition upheld by Centinela Traditional Arts.
In partnership with Centinela Traditional Arts, we are excited to launch our first Ariat x Chimayo collection this fall, offering footwear and apparel pieces that highlight beautiful Chimayo patterns on your favorite Ariat products and new limited-time pieces.
At first glance, you can immediately see the Southwestern influence on the collection, but there is so much more to Chimayo beyond the surface of our collaboration.
While traditional blanket weaving is one of the oldest surviving practices in the world, Chimayo design was first introduced to Northern New Mexico in the seventeenth century by Spanish settlers. They also brought Churro sheep, who provide the signature Churro wool used to weave the pieces. “Chimayo” style is an evolution of hundreds of years of tradition merged with new southwestern influences, and these woven blankets are masterpieces of design and color.
Chimayo eventually made its way into homes around the globe in response to a booming tourism industry at the turn of the twentieth century. The demand for “souvenirs of the Southwest” incorporating traditional New Mexico designs grew as more and more travelers were exposed to the beautiful and unique weaving patterns they had seen in the New Mexico. In the 20s and 30s, larger Chimayo blankets started being used for clothing such as coats, jackets, and vests. As a result, Chimayo patterns became a widely recognized and coveted symbol of Southwestern artistry.
Today, the Chimayo pattern and style is traditionally characterized by two serape stripes framing a large, complex motif in the center, and two smaller motifs on either side. Mirrored, geometric and linear patterns create symmetry and add an element of math and logic, while vibrant colors create eye-catching, intriguing designs.
At Centinela Traditional Arts, Irvin, Lisa and their team work to capture this essence of traditional weaving while also using creative innovation to evolve their Chimayo creations.
“Not knowing the final outcome makes each weaving a journey,” said Irvin Trujillo.
One of the main characteristics of Chimayo design is the bright, vibrant color of the wool. To achieve these eye-catching colors, Centinela uses a combination of natural and commercial dyes. The Trujillos believe using natural dyes not only allows for the experimentation of color within the weavings but also connects the soul to the land. They dye their own wool fibers using native plants and other natural ingredients, like cochineal, black walnut, juniper, and prickly pear cactus. Their use of commercial dyes serves a different purpose – the Trujillos can recreate the vibrant turquoise, red and black colors seen on the Chimayos of the early twentieth century. At Centinela, spinning Churro wool is also an important tradition that produces yarn ideally suited for their richly textured tapestries and blankets.
Irvin and Lisa Trujillo’s husband-and-wife partnership is a marriage of Spanish heritage and a new frontier of New Mexico weaving. Irvin, a seventh-generation New Mexico native, learned to weave at ten years old from his father, who also came from a long line of weavers. After meeting and marrying Lisa in the early 1980s, he then taught her the skills of weaving. Ever since then, she has immersed herself in traditional weaving practices while constantly finding new ways to utilize these techniques and materials.
“I’ve always felt like weaving taps into the strength of the way my brain works and the way I think,” says Lisa. “I love the logic and spontaneity of it. I like the play of it — I can try out new things and just go for it.”
Together, they fulfill their passions for weaving with their full-time weaving business that also employs other local weavers and artisans. Their hope is that through Centinela Traditional Arts, their pieces become a part of living history that tells a story and connects us to the past, and ultimately, ourselves.
Irvin and Lisa are true artists who use each weaving – down to the yarn – as a form of expression.
“Weaving is everything to me, complete in every way,” says Lisa. “It is the most perfect expression of myself that I can imagine. I feel so lucky that I got to learn the craft.”
Their daughter, Emily, is also learning to weave and passing the tradition on to her own apprentices. With each new generation of weavers, Chimayo tradition remains vibrant at Centinela Traditional Arts.
In close collaboration with the Trujillos, the design team at Ariat has crafted a unique signature collection of apparel and footwear in both men’s and women’s styles that highlight beautiful Chimayo patterns on Ariat classics and new limited-time pieces.
“Ariat was eager to learn the subtleties of designing in Chimayo and also understand our history in order to translate the aesthetic of our designs authentically,” says Irvin. “This way of life has been passed down to us by many generations before and Ariat understood the importance of helping preserve that and continue our tradition.”
The Ariat x Chimayo collection combines the techniques of classic Chimayo weaving with the detailed craftsmanship of Ariat products to bring you pieces that capture the true spirit of the Southwest and stand as emblems of living heritage.
Shop the collection here.
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