Making Purple in Mexico

Beautiful slideshow will take you through the traditional process of dyeing yarn purple with Murex in Oaxaca, Mexico. (Found this while inspired by my Colors book, even though I haven’t gotten to purple yet. I did learn in my blacks and browns chapter that, similar to the Murex process, the color sepia comes from ink excreted by a cuttlefish.)

Blackbirds singing, cawing, whatever, in the dead of night

Conference of Rooks

Blackbirds, rooks, crow, ravens…whatever you call them, these birds are almost a trope in contemporary art, reminiscent of a Victorian Goth aesthetic. They are often considered ill omens. Unless, that is, they frequent your Mexican doorstep, twice the size of any normal birds, chattering away. You have to get used to them. Here in Playa del Carmen, at any rate, there are only rooks rather than the enormous turkey vultures that used to buzz around the patio in Merida. These two videos from the New York art fairs this past March capture how noisy these birds can be.

Kristof Kintera at Jiri Svestka Gallery, Armory 2010

Personally, I’ve had the creeps over birds ever since seeing Alfred Hitchcock’s film The Birds years ago. Moving to New York city and being surrounded by pigeons as clean as rats didn’t help my aversion. The turkey buzzards probably made it worse, and now a neighborhood rooster wakes me up around 6 every morning. I am not fond of birds.

What is it about these fellows that captures the imagination anyhow?