Monthly Archives: October 2019

The Passing of Walter “Chip” Morris, Chiapas Textile Icon

Chip Morris was one of those iconic figures who is largely responsible for the development of textile education in Chiapas, Mexico. He is known for preserving and promoting Maya highland weaving. He was there for a lifetime, co-creating the famed weaving cooperative Sna Jolobil and establishing San Cristobal de las Casas as a textile lover’s travel destination.

I got news of his passing yesterday from my pal Sheri Brautigam while I was in transit from my Durham home to Mexico City.

Walter “Chip” Morris, 1953-2019, RIP

From Kiki Suarez, founder of Kikimundo, famed folk art gallery in the San Cristobal de las Casas historic center:

When I arrived in San Cristobal in 1977, the Maya fabric here was already in decline, and neither I nor any tourists knew much about quality and we bought mediocre embroidery; we did not know about the quality of what was possible. The weavers themselves followed the tradition but many did not know the meaning of their patterns. A young gringo Hippie arrived, settled in San Andres Larrainzar, learned Tzotzil (and probably spoke it better than Spanish), and rescued the meanings in the ancient textiles, which were already at the point of disintegrating.

This man was Walter F. Morris, who we called Chip. I learned a lot with him. Together with Luis Contreras and Pedro Meza, he formed the Sna Jolobil cooperative in the city, still known today as the sourced for the highest quality Maya fabric. He took the Maya textiles to the great museums. He wrote his book, Living Maya, with Carol Karasik, that included the extraordinary photographs taken by Jeffrey J. Foxx, and then translated into Spanish.

Then, other books followed, always with the faithful and capable Carol: about how the Maya fabric here in many remote communities in the Maya highlands continues to develop instead of disappearing, how Maya women and men are preserving their dress instead of giving over to western styles — a rare phenomenon in the world.

The tours and talks by Chip that I attended were wonderful. I remember the first years here when I saw women walking from village to village, carrying their textiles on their heads. I remember how Chip was looking for, discovering, teaching the weavers themselves the meaning of their patterns, rescuing old huipil designs. I remember an old huipil from Chamula that had designs that were taken from the murals at Bonampak. Chip helped them appreciate the value of their own art that they often sold for nothing or almost nothing.

Then, he joined the fabulous Pellizzi Collection for a small salary. The Maya textile was his life and his passion and his destiny and vocation, and perhaps everything else in life could not compete with this. If today there are so many cooperatives and young people who play with new designs of the traditional Maya textile, I think this is why Chip Morris started — to leave this legacy. Unfortunately, for many years, for personal reasons, he began to withdraw from social spaces, and today many who work in the same field do not even know about him.

That’s why I write this: Let them know! This is the heritage he leaves in San Cristobal, and with many weavers and people in many communities.

Chip transcends his personal struggles for his great effort and work to rescue and recognize the Maya fabric, another textile artist, Olga Reiche, from Guatemala, wrote to me today. And, so it is …

I did not know Chip personally. I met him a couple of times in Tenejapa during my tours with Patrick Murphy, when he was guiding tourists to the cooperative operated by Maria Meza across from the zocalo. I knew that he was ailing. Most of us did. As Kiki says, we honor the contribution he made to Maya textile knowledge. We go to Chiapas because of what he accomplished. Descansé bien.

We recommend Chip’s book, Maya Threads: A Woven History published by Thrum’s Books, for our Chiapas textile study tour participants. I hope you have a chance to read it.

I’m taking a wait list for the February 25-March 4, 2020 Chiapas Textile Study Tour. Let me know if you want to go.

Mexico Indigenous Clothing Sale: Be a Fashionista!

As of Friday, morning, Oct. 11 — Still Available: #2, #3, #4, #6, #8, #9, #10, #13. Many choices! Time is ticking

I return to Oaxaca next week with a stopover in Mexico City to lead the Art History Tour focusing on the work of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Meanwhile, before I leave the USA, I usually go through my collection to review what I want to part with. Here is outstanding weaving and embroidery from all over Mexico — Oaxaca, Chiapas, Guadalajara. The 13-piece selection is below. Look carefully!

Note: All sizes are Large/Extra Large unless otherwise noted. Several are Collector Pieces: #1, #2, #3 and #13

To Buy: Send me an email to norma.schafer@icloud.com with your name, address, and item number. I will send you an invoice to pay with credit card. Once I receive your funds, I will mail via USPS to anywhere in the USA. Prices include mailing cost. Please buy and pay before Monday, October 14, 2019. This will give me enough time to pack and mail before I return to Mexico on October 16. Thank you VERY much.

SOLD. #1 Oaxaca Blue birds and flowers, fine embroidery on manta cotton, $235
#1 detail, cotton thread on manta cotton
#1 inside finish work is superb
#2 Black and Hot Pink Birds and Flowers, highest quality, $165
#2 detail — yellow is light from camera; natural manta cream cotton cloth
#2 inside fine stitching detail
#3 Pinotepa de Don Luis,Oaxaca back-strap loom cotton w/ rare Caracol Purple Snail, $195
#4 Chiapas blouse, embroidered, 3/4 sleeve, $65
#4 embroidery detail with French knots, Size Medium
SOLD. #5 Chiapas finest blouse, with 3/4 sleeves, French knots, $65
#5 detail, French knots, embroidery, Size Medium
SOLD. #6 Tlahuitoltepec, Oaxaca, cotton blusa, machine embroidered, $65
SOLD. #6, bodice detail
#6 back detail
SOLD. #7 Chiapas backstrap loom fine cotton blouse, $65, Size Medium
#7 detail, the design is in the weaving!
#8 Chiapas, long tunic, size medium, back strap loom, $65
#8 bodice detail, size Medium, design is integrated into weaving
#9 Fancy Chiapas poncho, back-strap loom, magenta with gold threads, $65
#10 PomPom Capelet — Poncho, wool, back-strap loom, $95
#11 Oaxaca Coast, Jamiltepec Blouse, backstrap loom+embroidered, $55
SOLD. #12 Guadalajara Needlepoint Blouse, $85
#13 Chiapas Backstrap Loom + Embroidered Tenejapa Poncho, $235 –Collector’s Piece
#13 Tenejapa poncho detail

15 Pieces: Mixed Mexican Jewelry For Sale

I’m getting ready to return to Oaxaca next week with a stopover in Mexico City to lead the Art History Tour focusing on the work of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, plus the other noted early 20th century Mexican muralists. (Want to hop down? One space open!)

Before I leave the USA, I usually go through my collection to review what I want to part with. The 15-piece selection is below. Look carefully!

To Buy: Send me an email to norma.schafer@icloud.com with your name, address, and item number. I will send you an invoice to pay with credit card. Once I receive your funds, I will mail via USPS to anywhere in the USA. Prices include mailing cost. Please buy and pay before Sunday, October 13, 2019. I return to Mexico on October 16. Thank you VERY much.

#1 Oaxaca Sterling Silver Yalalag Cross with Virgin of Juquila milagros

This is a one-of-a-kind completely handmade necklace, with handmade hollow silver beads and cast milagros in the image of the Virgin of Juquila, a venerated icon. You’ll never see anything like this again. When clasped, it hangs 20-inches. There are 15 milagros, including the three on the suspended cross. Two additional milagros make up the secure hook clasp. This is a collector’s piece. Price is $995. USD including mailing to anywhere in the USA. (Half the price of Federico with more silver.)

Oaxaca Filigree Dangle Earrings, left is #L-2A and right is #R-2B

These are famed Oaxaca filigree dangle earrings made by the best artisan silversmith I know. The ones on the left are called Muñecas and have a deep ruby red glass center to accent the sterling silver and pearls. The pair on the right are also an impressive statement piece, pearl and sterling with more of the filigree featured. Each pair has a 2-1/2″ drop from where the wire enters the earlobe, and is $245 each (includes mailing to anywhere in the USA).

Don’t like a price? Make me a reasonable offer!

SOLD. #3 Vintage Coral and Sterling Silver Oaxaca Milagro Necklace
Detail #3, all milagros are hand-cast sterling silver

#3 is an outstanding necklace, 22″ long, that I found at an out-of-the-way Oaxaca vintage antique shop. It was too beautiful to pass up and I added it to my collection. Now it’s time for a new home! $595 includes mailing to anywhere in USA.

Left earrings #4. Right top bangle #5. Vintage bubble bracelet #6.

#4 are among the last pairs of earrings I have made Brigitte Huet, who worked in Oaxaca for 20+ years before she returned to France in 2015. They are formed using the lost wax casting technique, and are 2″ long. $145 USD includes mailing to anywhere in the USA.

#5 is a sterling silver Mexican bubble bangle is made in Taxco, Guerrero. I’m very picky about quality, and this one is the best. 6″ interior diameter opening. Measure your wrist! $165 includes mailing to anywhere in the USA.

#6 is a rare vintage sterling silver Mexican bubble bracelet with native turquoise and hook clasp made in Taxco, Guerrero. It is in very good condition and measures 7-1/4″ long. $185 USD includes mailing to anywhere in the USA.

Don’t like a price? Make me a reasonable offer.

#7 purple earrings. #8 yellow earrings. #9 hot pink earrings.

#7, #8, and #9 are jicara gourd, hand-carved and painted, made in Pinotepa de Don Luis, Oaxaca, Mexico. I hand-select each pair for design quality and workmanship excellence. 2-1/2 to 3″ long. Lightweight, versatile, easy to wear. $45 each includes mailing to anywhere in USA. Please specify color and number when ordering. Thank you.

Earrings: #10 love birds. #11 circle flowers. #12 Maya Gods Pendant. #13 cornflowers.
#12 detail, sterling silver Brigitte Huet Maya Gods Pendant, 1″w x 1-1/2″ long, $185

#12. This is a rare Brigitte Huet sterling silver pendant made in the lost wax casting technique. It is from her earliest collection. Price includes mailing to anywhere in USA.

#10 love birds, sterling silver, coral and garnet, $175 USD

#10 are made by the Mazahua silversmiths of Estado de Mexico. I bought these in Mexico City. Difficult to find now. 3″ long from where wire enters earlobe to end of coral drop. Will mail free to anywhere in USA.

Don’t like a price? Make me a reasonable offer.

#11 top and #13 bottom, Melesio Rodriquez 950 sterling earrings

These are 950 sterling silver made by fine Mexican jeweler Melesio Rodriguez. They are each 1-1/4″ long. The design is derived from vintage 1950’s Taxco silversmithing. $165 each pair. Includes mailing to anywhere in USA. Please specify which pair you want by number.

#14 sterling silver Brigitte Huet bracelet with toggle clasp, 7-1/2″ long, $395
Inside detail #14 Brigitte Huet sterling silver bracelet with her mark

#14 was purchased around 2007 from Brigitte when she was working in Oaxaca using the lost wax casting technique. Her fine work was collected by travelers and residents alike. Rare to still find a piece like this. The iconography is Maya representing the huipil woven designs of noblewomen. $435 USD includes mailing to anywhere in the USA.

SOLD. #15 vintage Lake Patzcuaro fish necklace, 17″ long

#15 was bought in Patzcuaro, Michoacan in the early 1990’s. Rare. The fish is the iconic symbol of the region. Handmade silver beads and chain add interest along with the red beans from which the fish are suspended. Whimsical, beautiful, strong and secure with a hook clasp. $295 includes mailing to anywhere in the USA.

Mexico Designer Carla Fernandez Wool Cape — Big Discount + Raincoat

SOLD. This cape is from the Mexico City Colonia Roma boutique of designer Carla Fernandez. New! What was I thinking? I’m in Oaxaca in the winter and it’s not cold enough there! This is a beautiful, soft wool herringbone tweed with a flared design that drapes beautifully. It has deep pockets and open sides. It is 42″ long. The collar is sewn to the body of the cape at the neck, but the rest of the panel is loose and hangs freely the length of the cape so you can wrap it around your neck like a scarf to protect from winter chill. A lovely and innovative design.

The original retail price was $600 USD. I offer it to you for $195 USD plus $13 mailing via USPS Priority Mail to anywhere in USA.

How to Buy: Send me an email with your mailing address/ZIP Code. I will send you an invoice. Tell me if you want the cape or the raincoat (see below), or both. Thank you. I must receive payment by October 12.

Cape is SOLD. Thank you!

SOLD. Below, is a beautiful reversible raincoat with shirred hood. It is a $295 USD designer raincoat — like new. I’m pricing it to sell at $66 USD plus $8.00 USPS mailing. Size L-XL. 45″ long.

One-Day Tlacolula Valley Folk Art Study Tour

We are your portal to Oaxaca! This one-day customized study tour takes you beyond Oaxaca City and into the villages along the Tlacolula highway to San Pablo Villa de Mitla. We schedule this excursion based on your travel plans and our availability. It is a menu-based, mixed-media approach to discovering the best artisans that the region has to offer. We visit where artisans live and work. You choose your own tour destinations.

We want to give you flexibility and choice. We also want to give you a guided cultural experience, personalized and deep. We have spent years developing relationships with the artisans we visit. This is NOT a “punch my ticket” tour.

You can select to visit four (4) of the following options from this menu of experiences:

  1. A flying shuttle loom weaver who creates beautiful cotton home goods and clothing — El Tule or Mitla
  2. A fine wool rug weaver who works only in natural dyes on the fixed frame pedal loom — Teotitlan del Valle
  3. A beeswax candle maker who is an artist craftswoman — Teotitlan del Valle

CHOOSE EITHER #4 OR #5 OR #6. (Each of these villages are about 30-minutes from the main road!)

4. A pottery cooperative in San Marcos Tlapazola OR

5. A family of apron makers and embroiderers in San Miguel del Valle OR

6. A mezcal tasting at a palenque in Santiago Matalan

7. An antique dealer on a hidden-away street in San Pablo Villa de Mitla with a treasure trove of vintage finds, with a stop at the famed Mitla archeological site

We give you a full day, picking you up in the city at 9 a.m. and returning you by 6 p.m. If you want to add destinations, the cost is $100 USD more for each.

We don’t go on Sundays, the frenzied day of the Tlacolula Market, when there is a crush of people and visitors, and it’s too difficult to savor the experience.

What is included?

  • Transportation to/from Oaxaca City Historic Center
  • Lunch at an excellent restaurant or comedor
  • Translation
  • Expert explanations of art and craft
  • Curated visits to meet some of the best artisans we know

Cost

$300 per day for one or two people. $135 per person additional. If you want more than 4 destinations, the cost is $100 USD for each added stop.

Schedule your dates directly with Norma Schafer. You reserve for the dates you prefer. Please send us a couple of date options. You are welcome to organize your own small group.  We match your travel schedule with our availability.

This is for a full day, starting at 9 a.m. when we pick you up and ending at around 6 p.m. when we return you to your Oaxaca lodging. Please provide us with hotel/lodging address and phone number.

Reservations and Cancellations

We require a non-refundable 50% deposit via an e-commerce payment service. We will send you an invoice when you tell us you are ready to register and we confirm dates. The 50% balance is due on the day of the tour in cash, either USD or MXN pesos (at the current exchange rate). When we receive funds, we will send you confirmation and details. Be sure to send us the name and address for where you are staying.