|WHAT IS TAMPICO FIBER?|
It is a natural vegetable fiber derived from the Agave Lechuguilla plant. Tampico fiber is often referred to as “Mexico’s Natural Wonder” in recognition of the exceptional characteristics that it imparts. Used as an all-natural fill fiber in the brush-making industry, this fiber has proven its distinctive worth as it possesses exceptional water retention characteristics, excellent biodegradability, and superior heat and chemical resistance. Taking its name from the Mexican port from which it was exclusively shipped in the early days of trade, Tampico fiber is also sometimes referred to as istle or ixtle fiber. Its native environment is the dry, rugged highlands of northern Mexico, where the fiber is derived from the spiny, cactus-like Agave Lechuguilla plants that populate the semi-desert region.
HOW IS TAMPICO FIBER DERIVED AND PROCESSED? While methods of preparing Tampico fiber for the brush-making industry are continuously updated by the development of new equipment and technology, the gathering of the raw Tampico fiber material has essentially remained the same. It is speculated that the indigenous people of Mexico were the first to discover Tampico’s viability using the fibers to produce shampoo, rope, and later using the fibers to produce brushes. The harvesting methods they employed are still in use today.
The process of gathering the fiber begins with workers called “talladores” taking to the hills in search of the fiber-bearing plants. They are equipped with woven baskets, husking knives and a long-handled device called “cogollera” for snapping off the stem of the plant without exposing their hands to its barbs. Shaped like a spearhead, the pithy stem at the center of the plant is snapped off gently to avoid damaging the rest of the plant, which will then generate a new stem. The stem’s leaves are carefully scraped revealing a handful of wet fiber that is allowed to dry under the bright sun. In a single day a worker can gather a few kilos of raw Tampico fiber.
The Tampico fiber is then collected directly from the “tallador” with our processor’s fleet of trucks and delivered to our processor’s collection terminal, where it is sorted for length, color and stiffness and packed into large bales for shipment to our processing plant. At our plant, the Tampico fiber does not undergo any structural changes. It is merely processed in a manner so as to assure uniformity of length, stiffness and color. If the customer requires a certain color, we will dye the fiber according to the specifications. Subsequently, the Tampico fiber is cut to size and combed on automatic mixing machines specifically built by us. Once thoroughly mixed and cleaned it is hand bundled for the final cut to the size requested by the customer.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT PRESENTATIONS TAMPICO FIBER IS OFFERED IN?
2-Color Grey Tampico (mixture of black and white Tampico)
Semi-Patent (mixture of highly polished Tampico and unpolished Tampico)
Patent (highly polished Tampico)
Regular Union (mixture of white Tampico and Palmyra and/or Bassine)
Special Union (mixture of dyed Tampico and Palmyra and/or Bassine)
HOW DO THESE VARY IN PRICE?
Natural Tampico and regular unions are the least expensive. The dyeing creates an additional cost as does the very labor-intensive polishing process.