Category Archives: Cultural Commentary

Mexico Summer Mixed Clothing–Last Sale of the Season

Thanks to alle who picked a Mexico textile treasure this week! My storage containers are lighter now! Still more to go. I missed a few dresses, wraps and blouses on the first pass — oops, another box found. So, I’m going to squeeze in one more textile sale. Then, perhaps, I’ll have time to post a few pieces of jewelry before I leave for Oaxaca.

My departure date is June 22, so please, if you want to make a purchase, let me know immediately, and I’ll mail to you as soon as I receive payment. Mail deadline is Wednesday, June 20. Eleven pieces offered below.

How to order:

  1. Send me an email: norma.schafer@icloud.com
  2. Tell me which piece(s) you want by Number.
  3. Send me your mailing address.
  4. I will send you a PayPal invoice that includes $8 USD postage (unless you are international and I’ll calculate cost and let you know).
  5. I’ll mail to you within 24 hours.

#1. San Miguel Soyaltepec, Oaxaca, hand-embroidered huipil/dress

#1 is SOLD an embroidered dress from the island of San Miguel Soyaltepec that sits in the middle of Miguel Aleman Dam in the Chinantla region of Oaxaca between the valley and the Caribbean. I visited there some years back. There was a small group of us, only eight travelers, and 40 women selling at least four huipiles each. Do the math! On top of that, only three of us were buyers. In my desire to support a very disappointed group, I bought several. I guess it’s what I do! This one and #2 were stand-outs. Never worn. Cotton embroidery floss on 100% natural manta cotton. Hand-wash. Hang to dry or dry clean. Measures 29″ wide x 49″ long. Size L-XL.  A steal at $195 USD.

#1 detail of Soyaltepec huipil, teeny, tiny stitches

#2 is this Olive Green Huipil also from San Miguel Soyaltepec. This village is not easy to get to. First, it’s 12 hours from Oaxaca city. Then, one needs to take a boat launch to the island! Same story as above! Measures 27″ wide x 45″ long. Another steal at $195 USD.

#2 San Miguel Soyaltepec huipil

#2 detail, huipil from San Miguel Soyaltepec

#3 is a San Antonino blouse, embroidered with deshillado

#3. The Oaxaca village of San Antonino Castillo Velasco is known for its fine embroidery and pulled thread deshillado designs that show a little skin on the bodice!  This blouse is finely done, measures 24″ wide and 25″ long. I’m selling it for $65 USD.

#3 San Antonino bodice detail

#4 cotton embroidered blouse from Yalalag, Oaxaca

#4 is excellent embroidered doll figures on natural manta cotton made in the village of Yalalag, Oaxaca, about two hours from the city. Note the hand-tucking detail. Measures 22″wide x 27″ long. Priced to sell at $45 USD.

#4 bodice detail

#5 intricate embroidered blouse, San Bartolome Ayautla

#5 is a knock-out, densely embroidered with the finest stitches I’ve ever seen. Pale yellow birds and flowers are framed in black thread on excellent quality 100% cotton manta cloth. San Bartolome Ayautla is also in the Chinantla region of Oaxaca. Some say they started this embroidery tradition that has been copied by other villages. It can take 3-4 months to make this. Measures 23-1/4″ wide x 27″ long. $250 USD.

#5. See all those little invisible puckers on the inside? Those are stitches!

#6 Zinacantan machine-embroidered blouse

#6 is SOLD a contemporary blouse from the Chiapas village of Zinacantan. It is machine-stitched floral pattern on easy-to-care-for polyester. Full disclosure! Now, it’s what all the ladies wear. Measures 28″ wide x 29″ long. $65 USD.

#7 SOLD is from Amantenango, Chiapas, the ceramics village

SOLD #7 is a traditional blouse embroidered in Amantenango, Chiapas. This is the village “uniform.” When you see someone wearing this blouse you immediately know where they are from. I was mesmerized by the very graphic, contemporary pattern and thought it might make a great pillow cover. But, I never got around to it. Definitely wearable, too. Or, hang it on the wall like a painting. Poly thread on poly cloth. Measures 28″ wide x 28″ long. $65 USD.

#8 is an indigo and coyuchi blouse from San Pedro Amusgos

Come with us to San Pedro Amusgos in January 2019.

# 8 is all natural dyes, native, hand-spun organic cotton dyed with indigo and woven with coyuchi native cotton to offer the contrasting caramel color design. From the cooperative studio of Arte Amusgos and Odilon Morales who represents his cooperative at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market. Threads are spun with the malacate drop spindle and woven on a back-strap loom. New. Measures 25″ wide x 30″ long. $250 USD.

#9 Cuetzalan, Puebla, blouse with embroidered bodice

#9 is from the Puebla state mountains near the village of Cuetzalan. I was there for the fair a couple of years ago and bought directly from the maker. Bodice is embroidered with sheep, birds, ducks, swans, pigs and flowers, trimmed with embroidered edging. Sexy, off the shoulder look. This is traditional for the region. Note the hand-smocking. Measures 24″ wide x 26-1/2″ long. $85 USD.

#9 bodice detail

#10, Shiny Quechquemitl from Chiapas

#10 is the traditional pre-Hispanic women’s cover-up called a quechquemitl. You pull it on over your head as a should and bodice covering. Adapt as a shawl or scarf. Very comfy to wear. This one is all synthetic fibers woven on a back strap loom with shiny, glitzy gold threads. A night out on the town, perhaps! Measures 28″ long from the neckline V to the front point, and 35″ wide across the triangle. $65 USD.

#10 detail

A few spaces open for the Chiapas Textile Study Tour 2019

#11 is a cotton blouse from San Andres Larrainzer, Chiapas

#11 a very warm caramel brown with hot pink accent design that is an integral part of the weaving on the back-strap loom.  This weaving technique is called supplementary weft and the women of San Andres are masters. The seam joinery is all done by hand. I love the color contrast and the ample amount of bodice design. Measures 26″ wide x 30″ long. $65 USD.

Thank you for looking and shopping. Buy today and I’ll mail tomorrow.

 

Santa Fe, New Mexico Consignment & Thrifty Shopping: The List

Driving from Denver, Colorado, to Santa Fe, New Mexico, with stops back and forth in Taos and Abiquiu–Ghost Ranch (to pay homage to Georgia O’Keeffe), I am constantly reminded that this land was once Mexico.  The landscape reminds me of Oaxaca: expansive with arroyos, crevices, looming 12,000 foot mountains, scrub oak, sign posts telling of land grants established soon after the Spanish Conquest.

My pilgrimage to visit friends along the way embellished my road trip adventure on the back roads of America’s Southwest. In Taos, my friend Winn gave me a list of thrift and consignment shops to visit in Santa Fe. She said sometimes there is Native American jewelry, too. That hooked me!

This is especially interesting since Santa Fe is that eclectic mix of old-timers who have been there for forty years (and collected a few things), and socialites who come for the summer season. They might be oil and gas heiresses from Texas and Oklahoma who seek a milder summer climate. They come for the opera and the markets: International Folk Art Market, Spanish Market, and Indian Market.

They shop on the Plaza at Santa Fe Dry Goods filled with Euro-designer labels, attend galas, frequent cocktail parties, and then shed barely worn attire. Here’s where these clothes end up:

Gaspeite and Sterling Silver Navajo bracelet, thrift shop find

  1. Artifact. 930 Baca St., Santa Fe. (505) 982-5000. I found a vintage Navajo sterling silver cuff inlaid with gaspeite, and a brand-new skirt hot off the rack from the Plaza at a fraction of its original price.
  2. The Beat Goes On. 333 Montezuma Ave., Santa Fe. 505-982-7877. Here, the discovery is a Peter Nygaard jacket and a raspberry colored crinkle top. Score! This shop is around the corner from …
  3. Doubletake. 320 Aztec St. at the corner of Guadalupe St., Santa Fe. (505) 989 – 8886. This shop is in two parts: amazing Native American jewelry, accessories and furniture; and clothing.
  4. Look What the Cat Dragged In. 2570 Camino Entrada. This shop benefits the Santa Fe Animal Shelter. I never made it here! Hopefully you will. Let me know what you think.

If you are destined for Santa Fe this summer to volunteer or attend the International Folk Art Market (or any of the others), you might find this bonus thrifty shopping itinerary worthwhile.  I did!

 

Dye from Murex Snails Colors Ancient Cloth Blue and Purple

Writing from Santa Fe, NM: I’m staying at the house of my textile designer friend Norma Cross, who creates felted fiber clothing using natural dyes, wool, silk, and cotton.

An array of natural dyes, including caracol and indigo, used to weave cloth

I brought with me a shirt made on the Oaxaca coast with threads colored purple from the caracol purpura dye. That led her to send me this article about the Phoenician history of harvesting the purple snail and dyeing religious and political garments with snail ink.

Linking Ancient Snails to Common Threads in Israel Today

Indigo, cochineal and caracol purpura huipil, Pinotepa de Don Luis

This process is still in practice today in Oaxaca, Mexico, along the Pacific Coast. The murex snail is now extinct in Morocco where the Phoenicians plied the waters during the Roman Empire. It is extinct now in most places around the world. There is a revival in Israel where the natural blue color is being used for religious garments as it once was in the 8th century.


Preservation of the snail and it’s priceless ink is alive and well in Oaxaca. Yet, the risk of extinction is high because of poaching. I hear that the resort hotels in Huatulco make a special cocktail using the purple snail. They buy the dye from people who illegally harvest it. And, people are unconscious consumers!

On our Textile Tour of Oaxaca’s Costa Chica, starting January 11, 2019, we will see some glorious handwoven cotton fabrics where the supplementary weft and embroidered threads of the joinery use the rare purple dye. The pieces are created in two neighboring villages, San Juan Colorado and Pinotepa de Don Luis, where we will visit artisans and see how they prepare the native cloth.

I hope you can join us.

Questions? Please contact me.

 

Tribute to Mothers: Feliz Dia de la Madre

Red roses for love, a Mother’s Day Gift to you

First, a bouquet of red roses for all mothers, daughters and foster mothers. For the women in our lives who give us strength, courage and determination to stand up with shoulders back, head high. For the women who came before us to open the path and show us the way. Saludos y felicidades, siempre.

Mother’s Day, dedicated to my own mother, Dorothy Schafitz Beerstein, b. February 14, 1916, d. November 15, 2015, and the remarkable women of Mexico.

Embroidered story rebozo by Teofila Servin Barriga, Patzcuaro, Michoacan

Rosa, center, and her nieces, Magdalenas Aldama

In Yochib, Oxchuc,talented weaver with impaired mobility, limited health care access

The girls who will become women, learning from the matriarch

The young women, keepers of tradition and culture

To those of us who explore and discover and support the makers

Cousins Maya and Alicia in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca

The generations: Grandma Juana, Baby Luz, and Mama Edith

Grower of native corn, Mixe region of Oaxaca

My own mother, two years before her death at age 99 

For everything hand-made, here’s to the makers!

The women pottery makers of San Marcos Tlapazola

Intricately embroidered blouse, San Bartolome Ayautla, 8 months to make

To Lila Downs, who tells stories in song, with compassion

Frida Kahlo Calderon, our muse and heroine

Susie in Chiapas, thanks to the adventurers who visit

To the women who love and give care

Deceased potter Dolores Porras, inspiration for Atzompa

To Margarita, the basket weaver, Benito Juarez Market

Thank you to all the women who make a difference just by being you!

Is Cinco de Mayo Mexican Independence Day? NO!

Why is Cinco de Mayo celebrated and where is it celebrated most? More than a great time for a Margarita or a swig of Corona, Cinco de Mayo was the response by Mexican-Americans — mostly Californians — to the French invasion of Mexico, The Battle of Puebla, and fear that the North would lose the Civil War, enslaving those with Mexican heritage along with Blacks throughout the southwest.

Mexican Californians gave hugs amounts of financial support to preserve the Union and defeat the Confederacy. They had a lot at stake.

I wrote about the roots of Cinco de Mayo in 2012 that offers history and a UCLA professor’s research about the topic.

I’m in southern California this weekend for a family reunion and to attend a Cinco de Mayo Fiesta Viva la Vida honoring a dear friend, Michael Stone and his wife Charlotte.  I’m reminded again being in my California homeland about how strong Mexican culture here is and has been for centuries. Afterall, this was once part of New Spain!

Mexican Flag, La Bandera de Mexico, Zocalo, Mexico City

So, raise one today for the courage of Mexican-Americans who helped defeat France in the Battle of Puebla, and thereby averting French support for the Confederate Army. We owe them a lot.

Viva la Vida.  Viva Mexico!

Meanwhile, I’ll be back in Oaxaca on June 28. Publishing intermittently until then!  Saludos.