Las Sanjuaneras Huipils + More to Come

I was overwhelmed by the beauty of these textiles and overcome by your response in support of this great women’s weaving cooperative from San Juan Colorado. Thank you all for your incredible support.

This beauty is now SOLD. #5.

SOLD. #5 by Catalina Garcia Nejia. Dyes: wild marigold, mahogany bark. 34″w x 41″ long. $265.

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, mailing address. I will mark it SOLD, send you a PayPal invoice and add $12 for cost of mailing.

The weavers were thrilled we visited last January 2020

And, then there is this one. Blue and gold. Pericone and indigo.

SOLD. #17. by Camerina Cabrera. 21-1/2″ wide x 40″ long. $165 + mailing

Now, I’ve just spent the afternoon packing and mailing all the beautiful huipiles and blusas you bought yesterday. Some of you were disappointed because we sold-out early and fast!

So, I’ve contacted Las Sanjuaneras and I am arranging for another shipment of 16 beautiful textiles to come to me from Oaxaca. These will include more blusas and and a few tunics. The selection, again, is magnificent. I have seen preview pictures and chosen the ones I think you will enjoy most.

A selection of beautiful Las Sanjuaneras textiles — at their village

I’ll give you a heads-up when then arrive. I will need a couple of days to prepare them for posting — with photographs and descriptions.

Thank you for being so wonderfully supportive of Oaxaca and her weaving community. We are all deeply appreciative.

Spinning and cleaning cotton in San Juan Colorado
Meet Patrocinia from Las Sanjuaneras, San Juan Colorado, Oaxaca
This is Margarita, another outstanding Las Sanjuaneras weaver
Weavers Rufina with daughter Aurora and her son

Families depend on the work of women in small, remote weaving villages like San Juan Colorado. Husbands are subsistence farmers who are able to feed their families with beans, corn, squash that they raise in the field. But the produce is no commodified because everyone grows what they need to eat. It is the weaving that can bring in the extra money to the household to pay for school, medicine and health care, an occasional chicken or a fiesta.

In times like these, when there are no tourists to visit or to shop in the Oaxaca city galleries, we are doing what we can to help families sustain themselves.

Bringing Oaxaca Textiles to You: Las Sanjuaneras Cooperative

Oh, dear, I thought. We have a textile tour to visit the cooperatives on the Oaxaca coast this January 2021. What if we don’t get there because of Covid-19? The best I can do now is bring them to us until we know if we hold this tour … or not. I contacted Las Sanjuaneras in San Juan Colorado, a pueblo located in the coastal mountains near Pinotepa Nacional. Why? Because they weave exceptionally fine garments AND they have no Internet presence for online sales — no website, no Instagram, no Facebook. They need our help.

Las Sanjuaneras weaving cooperative

15 Gorgeous Hand-woven, Naturally-Dyed Textiles for Sale

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, garment number, mailing address. I will mark your choice SOLD, send you a PayPal invoice and add $12 for cost of mailing.

So, I contacted Ana Paula Fuentes from the CADA Foundation. She worked with the group in the past. I selected garments from photos she sent via cooperative leader Camerina Cabrera and I prepaid shipping so Las Sanjuaneras would have no out-of-pocket expenses. As soon as the pieces sell, I will send funds to them via Western Union. It’s a win-win for all of us.

SOLD. #2. Maker: Delfina Quiroz. Dyes: nanche, indigo, almond. 38″ wide x 39″ long. $295
SOLD. #4 Maker: Brisaida. Dyes: Indigo and ferrous oxide. 34″w x 41″ long. $295

Here’s some background about Las Sanjuaneras sent by Ana Paula to share with you:

Five weavers started Las San Juaneras in the year 2000 — 20 years ago, in the Mixtec village of San Juan Colorado on Oaxaca’s Costa Chica region where 80% of the women are back-strap loom weavers and spinners. Today, their membership has grown to 16 women. Most are younger, invited by the elders to join them to keep their traditions vibrant, to become stronger, to share ideas, and to encourage and support one another.

SOLD. #5 Maker: Catalina Garcia Nejia. Dyes: wil marigold, mahogany bark. 34″ w x 41″ long. $265

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, garment number, mailing address. I will mark your choice SOLD, send you a PayPal invoice and add $12 for cost of mailing.

#6 by Margarita Nicolas Hernandez. Dyes: guava, wild marigold, Brazil wood, beets, ferrous oxide. 37″ wide x 43″ long. $325

In September 2017, Ana Paula with Maddalena Forcella were invited to collaborate with the group to build their creative competency, design innovation and quality. Their goal was to differentiate their weavings from others in the community and to create a more cohesive team. This included integrating the younger women and developing skills to transform lives in a positive, healthy and sustainable way. The important by-product was to revive and reinforce their traditional techniques and empower the community through shared knowledge.

SOLD. #7 by Delfina Quiroz. Dyes: Brazil wood, mahogany, guava, beet. 34″w x 36″ long. $295.
SOLD. #8 by Delfina Quiroz. Dyes: indigo and nanche. 34″ w x 38″ long. $265.

They dye the native wild cotton that grows in the region themselves using only native plant materials — flowers, fruit, wood bark. They buy coyuchi cotton and the purple shell-dyed (caracol purpura) cotton from others in San Juan Colorado and Pinotepa de Don Luis.

Sold. #9 by Brisaida Garcia. Dyes: indigo & coyuchi. 31″ w x 45″ long. $285.
Indigo-dyed cotton. Las Sanjuaneras. Photo by Ana Paula Fuentes.
#11 by Camerina Cabrera. Dyes: indigo & nanche. 31-1/2″ w x 34″ long. $195.
Sold #13 by Camerina Cabrera. Dyes: indigo & natural cotton. 35″ w x 41″ long. $195
SOLD. #14 by Aurora Nicolas. Dyes: almond bark, indigo. 35″ w x 36″ long. $225

The garments represented here are some of the finest workmanship I am aware of in all of Oaxaca state. I hope you find something you will enjoy collecting and wearing. And, on behalf of the women, thank you for your help and support.

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, garment number, mailing address. I will mark your choice SOLD, send you a PayPal invoice and add $12 for cost of mailing.

SOLD. #15 by Brisaida. Dyes: mahogany, marigold, indigo. 37″ w x 40″ long. $225
SOLD. #16 by Maria Ines. Dyes: mahogany, wild marigold. 36″w x 38″ long. $295.
SOLD. #17 by Camerina Cabrera. Dyes: indigo, wild marigold. 21-1/2″w x 44″ long. $165.

All these garments are made with natural cotton native to the Oaxaca coast. The cotton is cleaned, beaten, and hand-spun using a malacate drop-spindle. Then the threads are dyed in the dye bath before they are put onto the back-strap loom. The process is labor-intensive and painstakingly precise. This is the work of women (and some men are now learning) that goes back centuries, millenia! Most learned to weave starting at age eight. Only a few are masters at spinning.

Las Sanjuaneras weaver. Photo by Ana Paula Fuentes

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, garment number, mailing address. I will mark your choice SOLD, send you a PayPal invoice and add $12 for cost of mailing.

From My Friend Winn in Oaxaca: Inside and Out

This just came to my inbox. I can alway rely on Winn to report about what it’s like on the ground in Oaxaca. These are extenuating circumstances! I told her, “This is so beautiful. So stunningly clear. So eloquently expressed. I am in awe of your ability to write from your heart to say what you will. A reflection that expresses the feelings of many of us.” And, I asked her permission to post it here. She agreed.

24 July 2020

And life goes on … in the time of cholera, no, Coronavirus. We will all remember this time, and mark our milestones as “just before lockdown,” or “during our time at home,” or “once we could finally travel again,” certainly.

My time continues in Oaxaca. Been here since the first week of February. My phone app tells me I’m still booked to fly back to NM [New Mexico] on August 19, the first day that international flights are promised in and out of Oaxaca. But now, when I check for updates, it is with a shrug of the shoulders and a “we shall see what we shall see” attitude.

In my Jalatlaco house, I have my “entertainment stations.” There’s the comfy red chair with its lamp and a spot for the cup of coffee, for reading. (My pile of books-in-process right now includes Ta-Nehisi Coates’s The Water Dancer, Paul Theroux’s On the Plain of Snakes, and Jane Smiley’s Moo.) There’s the splayed-out cardboard duct-taped together to make a smooth flat surface and laid atop the twin bed in the downstairs bedroom, for puzzle-making. There’s the lawn chair in the driveway-garden area with a turned-over wooden box for the bottle of water, for playing solitaire or listening to podcasts or checking news, email, or WhatsApp messages on my phone. There’s the table for breakfast or playing Cribbage with Phyllis or more reading. There’s the other comfy red chair with remote controls and laptop close at hand for the hours of binge-watching (love those Korean series!) and dining alone in front of the TV. There’s the outdoor garden where I water and trim plants that are bursting forth in this lovely weather. And I just move among those stations throughout the day, after my morning walks out into Centro for necessities (mostly comestibles and cash). Upstairs, my stations are for daily-elementals tasks—toothbrushing, showering, laundry, and of course, sleeping.

The other day, my neighbor Judi drove me to Home Depot to get a new pump for the garrafon (the 5-gallon water bottles that everyone uses for drinking-cooking water). It was my first time in a car since Judi and I went grocery-shopping in early June, and only the third or fourth outing since mid-March. Never again will I take for granted the luxury of being able to drive wherever I want to go, and the feeling that everything I want or need is within reach because I can simply get behind the wheel and go get it or see it or visit it. Yes, of course, I could get a taxi, but they are high-risk ventures these days, possibly loaded with contagion, so I walk … and walk … or just stay home, where I have control and feel safe.

The other day, as I walked across Llano Park toward the neighborhood grocery store, I saw a lone man doing tai chi. An old man, moving with some stiffness but with beauty and tranquility. I slowed my pace, and then as we made eye contact, I Namaste-ed him and he back to me. The group of women with whom I’ve been doing tai chi in that park for some years now has not met since mid-March, and still cannot do so. Oaxaca is in code-red again, according to Mexico’s red-light/orange-light/green-light classification of Covid danger zones, so the yellow tape has gone up again around all the parks and plazas and no groups can gather in any public places. But a lone tai chi practitioner, or a walker, can duck under the yellow tape and proceed without hassle from the ubiquitous police, who are mostly a benign presence here. Even the lone runner I see often, who runs around that same park with seven or eight dogs—of all sizes and shapes—can get his exercise and make a little money keeping those dogs entertained and healthy, without hassle.

But oh, how I miss my tai chi ladies, mis Reinas de Tai Chi and our regular sessions, which give a sweet structure to my schedule. I miss seeing the families who come to the parks together. I miss the bounty and energy of the open-air markets. I miss the long, chatty coffee-dates with friends. And outings to nearby villages on market day or for a museum show or a festival. July is typically a riotous month in Oaxaca; it’s the month of Guelaguetza, with vendors and dancers and parades and fireworks all over town. But it’s been quiet this month, eerily quiet. The church in Jalatlaco, a block from my house, has been broadcasting music on Sunday mornings and then a loudspeaker mass, for the neighbors who are afraid to come to the church for services, but then the churchyard, typically a place for gatherings and food vendors and weddings or quinceanera celebrations, goes quiet again for the week. Only the morning bell of the garbage truck, the distinctive cries or sounds of the street vendors who pass by, the jingle of the gas truck, the barking of a neighborhood dog, or the occasional late-night bass-playing from a nearby house break the prevailing quiet.

I love it here, still, even in this long time of sequestration. I can stay safe here and feel strangely content. I send vicarious support to the Wall of Moms in Portland and other brave folks like them, to folks in the States enduring the shameless failures of the Orange one and his administration, to those out of a job or worrying about finances or the survival of their business, to my neighbors and friends in Taos and elsewhere. But here, in this time of solitude and introspection, and in the long run, I know that, if I (and we all) survive it, there will be value in what we are learning now.

Fight, Flight or Hide: Danger, Covid-19, A Rant

North Carolina rates of infection are on the rise. We are in the Bruised Red, Uncontrolled Category. This is alarming. We may not be in the Top 5 outbreaks in the Southern States, but we are inching there. Wherever we are, whomever we are, we are at risk. And, in the face of what we perceive as danger, our normal response — according to the mental health experts — is to either run away or fight.

These days, many of us are also in hiding. I should be in hiding because I’m a fighter with a loud voice. No amount of precautions help me. No mask wearing. No frequent washing and using hand sanitizer. No six-feet of social distancing. Mostly because others don’t adhere to the guidelines.

NC Governor Roy Cooper extended Stay at Home Orders on July 16 to August 7, 2020. This includes:

WHEREAS, in Executive Order No. 141, issued on May 20, 2020, the undersigned urged that all people in North Carolina follow social distancing recommendations, including that everyone wear a cloth face covering, wait six (6) feet apart and avoid close contact, and wash hands often or use hand sanitizer; to reduce COVID-19 spread.

I made a mistake today. I went food shopping mid-Sunday morning to the Harris-Teeter supermarket in my Durham neighborhood. Why? I promised to help a friend.

Most were behaving pretty well. Everyone was masked. I stopped to allow people to pass me and made a wide swing around others when there was space. There were definitely more people in the store than at 8 a.m. on Mondays and Thursday, The Senior Hour.

In Produce, I hovered around the potatoes, onions and squash eyeing the best before touching. Okay. I’m not Speedy Gonzalez. A late 20’s-something (hard to tell with the mask on) swooped in three inches from me to pick an onion.

Excuse me, he said, as he reached in front of me, body leaning in my direction.

I said, incredulously, What are you doing? You are supposed to stay six feet away!

I said Excuse Me, he said, and turned his back on me, setting off.

Excuse me doesn’t cut it, I screamed through my mask. Do you think he heard me. I kept shouting, You are supposed to stay six feet away.

He went to another aisle, stone faced. I noticed he had a very short cropped haircut, shaved close to the neck. I wondered if that meant anything.

How dare you? I continued across the expanse of strawberries, peaches and blueberries, as if that would help lower my anxiety. Everyone else stayed far away.

I’m scary, right. I scream Stay Away.

Now, I’m smarter than this. I should know better than to go out food shopping on Sunday, when Duke students are starting to return, when the weekend habit of procuring vittles is ingrained in many.

There would have been any number of online choices: Instacart has been a delivery mainstay with choices such as Sprouts, Fresh Market and Durham Food Co-op. I have also shopped for pick-up at Harris-Teeter and at Whole Foods. I reconciled my decision based on some specialty needs for my friend.

Meanwhile, I must forgive myself, do better to calculate risk and remember to #stayinhiding and #staysafe and depend more on available services. I must stay conscious.

Life depends on it.

We are still here! Covering Faces in Oaxaca

I must confess it is difficult to be away from Oaxaca for so long. I have peripheral news to give you about daily life other than what we all read. I’m in the same boat as you … depending on others to tell me what’s going on!

Mostly, it’s the same story. The Orange Light is now on. Which means that businesses are opening up and people are back on the streets and in the markets — except for those who are disbelievers. It’s important now to continue to question the common sense of business as usual, here or there. (Name your location.)

Lucina and Kalisa with 60 masks

Kalisa tells me that she is still in hiding for the most part, and stepping cautiously and quickly in and out of Benito Juarez Market. Most of our guera friends continue to isolate, wear masks and keep distance when out and about. My family in Teotitlan del Valle is doing the same.

About the Photo Above: On the left is Alvin Starkman’s goddaughter Lucina. He and Arlene have been supporting her education for many years and she has just finished medical school. She will be taking 60 of our masks to a remote village (TBD) where she will do her public service at the end of the month. Kalisa has a repository of our masks that she keeps on hand to give to those in need. Alvin and Lucina picked them up the other day.

We continue to make and distribute masks.

A friend told me the risks in the villages are still high and people are dying, especially the vulnerable elderly. Numbers, I’m told, are in high double-digits, for some villages where commerce is a way of life.

Still accepting gifts. To contribute to The Oaxaca Mask Project, click here:

We continue to make and distribute masks, albeit as I said earlier, at a slower pace. But, your gifts continue to be welcome.

Representative weaving examples from new project

I am working on a new project.

Soon, I will receive a shipment from a remote Oaxaca coastal village. The women there grown their own cotton and use natural dyes to color it. They formed an outstanding 16-member cooperative, but they have no Internet presence — no knowledge of technology and limited marketing savvy. I will help them sell during this time of scarcity.

Photo by Ana Paula Fuentes

The box contains a dozen beautiful hand-woven textiles fashioned into garments that are a perfect weight for summer. Here in North Carolina, it’s been over 90 degrees and this will continue for another couple months. Clothes that breathe are essential for this climate and many other parts of the USA.

I will post photos and prices here as soon as the box arrives.

Made by hand, indigo and wood bark fine gauze blouse