Toklat, meaning “headwaters,” was built as a wilderness lodge and family home by Stuart Mace and his wife Isabel in 1948. Located near the headwaters of Castle Creek near Aspen in the Rocky Mountains, this serves now as a gathering place for cultural and ecological discourse.
With the help of Jessica Hobby Catto and her husband Henry, ACES (Aspen Center for Environmental Studies) bought Toklat in 2004 to preserve Stuart’s legacy.
Elena Gonzalez Ruiz, a native of Oaxaca in Mexico, and her family have been part of the Catto Center at Toklat even before it became an ACES' site.
She has been a long-standing Artist-in-Residence at the Center, traveling back to the Castle Creek valley each summer. Elena contributes to ACES’ mission by providing educational opportunities related to traditional and environmentally-responsible textile production.
According to Elena, they have about 7,000 people in her village with about 4,000 weavers. Most of the coloring and dyeing ingredients like the indigo plant are grown by her people. They count the minutes that the yarn is kept in the coloring bucket to get the colors needed for the individual carpets, handbags and other wool projects.