Art •  Folklore and New Mexico

$24.95 paperback

Add to Cart

New Mexico Colcha Club: Spanish Colonial Embroidery & the Women Who Saved It

Nancy C. Benson

Flourishing in the hands of colonial women in the isolated province of New Mexico, women worked their yarn into colcha embroidery. A century later, colcha faced oblivion as commercial cloth became more available. This book looks at the history, beauty, and various styles of New Mexico colcha embroidery and tells the uplifting story of how a small group of determined women revived a Hispanic cultural tradition destined for extinction.


Nancy C. Benson has worked as an award-winning professional writer specializing in women and the arts for over thirty years.


"Describes the art form's birth, heyday, decline, and ultimate revival. . . . Benson enriches our understanding of colcha by weaving a canvas of vivid contextual detail and embroidering it with the personal stories of colcha stitchers from two generations, Teofila Lujan and her daughter Esther Vigil. . . . New Mexico Colcha Club is written in an engaging and accessible style and is an enjoyable and useful publication for scholars and general audiences. Anchoring the story in the two women's lives, Benson paints an intimate portrait of twentieth-century northern New Mexico. . . . Pages are sumptuously illustrated with color plates showing historic and contemporary colcha embroidery. Black-and-white archival images of New Mexico landscapes and residents bring Benson's narrative to life, providing a visual reference for the culture she so adeptly portrays. . . . (Her) nuanced account of colcha embroidery over three centuries of continuity and change illuminates the life cycle of this dynamic tradition and assures us of its ongoing vitality."


Journal of American Folklore

"Benson’s chronicle is a vibrant history of a particular art form, and through it, an entire culture. She begins where many accounts do, with Oñate and conquered peoples, but Benson gives life to the litany of ancestors and events in New Mexico history. The narrative she crafts is loving and detailed, portraying the women who settled and built families here as brave, resourceful, and self-sufficient. The book, published by the Museum of New Mexico Press, is gorgeous, and the research that went into it meticulous. This is a serious book, presented as art, and is possibly one of the best books published about New Mexico in years. It treats its subject with dignity and reverence, rendering the history of Hispanic women in New Mexico as essential, their work and artistry ignored at our own peril."


Weekly Alibi

"Fascinating read for embroiderers and historians alike."



Published By Museum of New Mexico Press

8.5 x 10.5 in. 156 pages 96 color and black-and-white illustrations