Gilbert Fernandez Coat in Chimayo Weave | Hispanic weaving
This coat was hand-woven by Gilbert "Gil" Fernandez in his Weston, Colorado shop circa 1975. It is made with a Chimayo style weave of Mr. Hernandez's interpretation. The wool coat has a pattern of black and white zigzags and chevrons on a bright red background.
Between 1931 and 1933, the demand for coal was low. The Depression made it difficult for people to by consumer goods, and many large coal-fueled factories closed. The largest coal mine in Colorado, the Frederick in Valdez, was one of these. Miners from adjoining coal camps were affected and hundreds were out of work. The Colorado State Vocational Education Department, the Las Animas County School District 61, and the Young Men's Christian Association cooperated with CF&I to develop one of the the most progressive and innovative worker-training projects in the West. CF&I trained its out-of-work miners to weave rugs and blanket in an effort to stave off the effects of the depression and to create a cottage industry that could sustain the miners while the mines were closed. The Valdez Rug Project as it was known preceded the WPA by five years. After the mines reopened in 1933, the Valdez Project continued to promote traditional Hispanic weaving and self- sufficiency. Twenty-year-old Gilbert 'Gil' Fernandez (1911-1990) was one of forty students enrolled in the one-and-a-half hour classes held five days a week, four times daily. Fernandez became so adept at weaving during the project that he was son designing and helping to instruct. Fernandez continued to work on the CF&I loom at the Valdez YMCA for thirty years as a hobby before the Valdez mine was closed in 1961. He was transferred to the Allen mine, and laid off in 1963. He opened his first privately owned weaving shop that year, and in 1965 moved to Westin, Colorado, a few miles west of Valdez, where he wove professionally until about 1989 when he began to "slow down".