Museum of New Mexico Press


New Mexico Colcha Club

Spanish Colonial Embroidery & the Women Who Saved It

Nancy C. Benson, Author

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. In the 1930s a colcha club founded by Hispanic women in the Espanola Valley of Northern New Mexico sought to rescue colcha and bring it back to its place as a cherished custom.


"Describes the art form's birth, heyday, decline, and ultimate revival Benson enriches our understanding of colcha by weaving a canvas of vivid contextural detail and embroidering it with the personal stories of colcha stitchers from two generations, Teofila Lujan and her daughter Esther Vigil's 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..."

Trim: 10.5" x 8.5"

Pages: 156

Illustrations: 96 color and black-and-white illustrations

Folklore/Folk Arts

New Mexico



Paperback $24.95