For her section of the exhibit Memories of Migration: Las Vegas, Exhibit Design Class student Gloria Lovato chose to investigate a local cultural tradition that turned out to have a long and fascinating migration story all its own. Combining research with consultation with a local master of the tradition, Beatrice Maestas Sandoval, and the Mora Valley Spinning Mill, Gloria created graphics panels that included photographs, text, and instructions for making the stitch, as well as a hands-on component, and small case small display of tools and supplies.
Colcha is a regional tradition in northern New Mexico that migrated with Spanish colonists in the 17th century, perhaps by crypto-Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition. Even by then the stitch had a long history in Asia and Europe. In Europe the embroiderers used silk cloth and thread, but in New Mexico it was adapted to the more humble materials at hand--cotton and wool. Oriental and European motifs influenced the first designs, but gradually local plants and animals were introduced. This once almost lost tradition is undergoing a revival. It preserves within it an important migration story.