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BEHIND THE SCENES / ORANGE COUNTY

An Old-Time Spin Doctor : Member of Legendary Family of Weavers Shows Wares at Mission

February 22, 1996

Robert Ortega's family has been made up of weavers for seven generations, beginning in the early 1700s when Spaniard Gabriel Ortega settled in the Northern Rio Grande Valley, known today as Chimayo, N.M.

Gabriel and his descendants became famous for the quality of their hand-woven wool blankets, rugs, vests, coats and purses.

Recently, Robert Ortega, who still lives in Chimayo, was invited to participate in the Colonial Hispanic Textile Exhibition at the San Juan Capistrano mission.

In front of thousands of onlookers, he demonstrated his looming techniques and displayed his family's legendary wares.

He was one of the craftsmen who took part in the mission's ongoing living history program that shows visitors what they may have seen had they arrived on the scene 200 years ago.

In the past, blacksmiths, jewelers, leather tanners and other artists have displayed their work at the mission's center courtyard and cloisters.

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