Category Archives: Textiles, Tapestries & Weaving

Clothing Matters: Dress and Identity in Oaxaca

In planning for a visit to India in November 2016 and on the recommendation of a friend, I ordered a copy of Emma Tarlo’s book, Clothing Matters: Dress and Identity in India. What strikes me are the similarities between Mexico and India and the politics of cloth as a statement of belonging, assimilation and independence.

Emma Tarlo is a British cultural anthropologist and the book is based on research for her doctoral degree. Identity is tied to the quality of cloth, where it’s made, how it’s made and by whom, style (is it westernized or indigenous) and how a person feels about him/herself in their chosen attire.

Clothes are symbols for who we are, where we come from and who we aspire to be. They are also symbols for keeping people in their place by banning attire or requiring that people maintain a dress code based on their ethnic identity.

Oaxaca's khadi cloth, with native coyuchi and handspun, naturally dyed cotton

Oaxaca’s khadi cloth, with native coyuchi and handspun, naturally dyed cotton

Indigenous dress can convey a strong sense of pride or shame. Handmade cloth is more costly than machine woven textiles and often unaffordable to most.Handmade can be code for poverty, class and rough quality. In Chiapas, metallic, synthetic thread is all the rage by Chamula women. It is difficult to find natural dyes there now.

The first section of the book addresses the politics of cloth, India’s M.K. Ghandi social movement to eradicate manufactured and imported cloth and reinstate khadi cotton as part of a national independence movement.

It was curious to me to read this because Khadi is also the name of a Oaxaca cooperative that hand-spins and hand weaves native cotton using the type of spinning wheel used in India. The textile is soft,  airy, comfortable and easy to wear in Oaxaca’s climate. Yet, I had no idea until reading Tarlo’s book how closely tied this identity of cloth is between the two countries.

I’ll be writing more about as I re-enter Oaxaca. It’s important to look at indigenous clothing not only as beautiful textiles but as significant for supporting local economic development. Cloth has value. It is a root of identity.

 

 

Chiapas Textiles + Folk Art Study Tour: Deep Into the Maya World

We are based in the historic Chiapas mountain town of San Cristobal de las Casas, the center of the Maya world in Mexico. Here we will explore the textile traditions of ancient people who weave on back strap looms. Women made cloth on simple looms here long before the Spanish conquest in 1521 and their techniques translate into stunning garments admired and collected throughout the world today. Colorful. Vibrant. Warm. Exotic. Connecting. Words that hardly describe the experience that awaits you.

Tuesday, February 14 to Wednesday, February 23, 2017, 9 nights and 10 days in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas

Small group! Registration limited to 12 people.

Man from Zinacantan with hand-woven straw hat

Man from Zinacantan with hand-woven straw hat

I am committed to give you a rich cultural immersion experience that goes deep rather than broad. We cover a lot of territory, but it’s not physical! That is why we are spending nine nights in this amazing Pueblo Magico — Magic Town — to focus on Maya textiles and weaving traditions. Our day trips will take us into villages, homes and workshops to meet the people who keep their traditions vibrant. This is an interpersonal experience to better know and appreciate Mexico’s amazing artisans.

Humanitarian healer Sergio Castro with vintage textile collection

Humanitarian healer Sergio Castro with vintage textile collection

Take this study tour to learn about:

  • the culture, history and identity of cloth
  • spinning wool and weaving with natural dyes
  • clothing design and construction
  • symbols and meaning of textile designs
  • choice of colors and fibers that reflect each woman’s aesthetic while keeping with a particular village traje or costume
  • mystical folk medicine practices that blend Maya ritual and Spanish Catholicism
The church at San Juan Chamula, Chiapas, Mexico

The church at San Juan Chamula, Chiapas, Mexico, February

I have invited textile collector Sheri Brautigam to join me to give you a special, in-depth experience. Sheri writes the blog Living Textiles of Mexico and is recognized for her particular knowledge of Chiapas Maya textiles. She is author of the Thrums soon-to-be-published Textile Fiestas of Mexico: A Traveler’s Guide to Celebrations, Markets, and Smart Shopping. (I’ve contributed two chapters with photos, one for Tenancingo de Degollado and the other for Teotitlan del Valle!)

San Cristobal de las Casas, international crossroads of great food

San Cristobal de las Casas, international crossroads for great food

I have also engaged one of San Cristobal’s most well-informed local guides who will travel with us to provide bi-lingual services for understanding the nuances in translation. We will travel in a luxury Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van as we go deep into the Maya world.

Daily Itinerary

Tuesday, February 14: Meet me at the Mexico City Airport. We will fly together from Mexico City to Tuxtla Gutierrez and transfer to San Cristobal de las Casas (SCDLC) by pre-arranged van service together. I will let you know which airline/flight to book and meet you at the Mexico City airport as soon as you register. If you prefer to not coordinate air travel, please make your own arrangements to get from Tuxtla to SCDLC. Arrive in time for group dinner at 7 pm. (D)

Textiles from the village of Cancuc

Textiles from the weaving villages of Cancuc and Oxchuc

Wednesday, February 15: Our first day in San Cristobal de las Casas orients you to the Textiles in the Maya World. You will learn about weaving and embroidery traditions, patterns and symbols, women and villages, history and culture. After a breakfast discussion we will visit Centro Textiles Mundo Maya museum, Sna Jolobil for the finest regional textiles made, and meander the Santo Domingo outdoor market that takes over the plaza in front of the church. We will then guide you along the walking streets to get your bearings. (B, L) Dinner on your own.

Embroidered blouse from Amantenango

Embroidered blouse from Amantenango

Thursday, February 16:  Tenejapa is about an hour and a world away from San Cristobal de Las Casas. Today is market day when villagers line the streets filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and often textiles. We’ll meander the market to see what’s there. In years past, I’ve found some stunning shawls, huipils and bags here. Then, we will visit the outstanding textile cooperative founded by Doña Maria Meza Giron who founded the Sna Jolobil cooperative. We’ll also stop in Romerillo to see the larger than life pine-bough covered Maya blue and green crosses. Return to San Cristobal de Las Casas in time for dinner on your own. (B, L)

Hand carved colonial wood detailing on doorway arch

Hand carved colonial wood detailing on doorway arch

Friday, February 17:  Today is a walking day, devoted to visiting textile cooperatives in San Cristobal de las Casas. You will learn about international collaborations and textile design that conserves traditions while meeting marketplace needs for exquisite and utilitarian cloth. In the early evening, we visit Museo de Trajes Regionales and humanitarian Sergio Castro, who has a large private collection of Maya indigenous daily and ceremonial dress representing each Chiapas region. (B, D)

Clay and wood carved artifacts

Clay and wood carved artifacts

Saturday: February 18: Amantenango del Valle and Aguacatenango to see the whimsical and functional wood and dung fired pottery – the way its been done for centuries. Wonderful roosters, spotted jaguar sculptures and ornamental dishes. This is a textile village, too, where women embroider garments with designs that look like graphic art. We’ll travel to neighboring Aguacatenango, to visit a well-known embroiderer who has won many awards. (B, L) Dinner on your own.

Whimsical Amantenango chicken pots

Whimsical Amantenango chicken pots

Sunday, February 19: This is a big day! First we go to San Lorenzo Zinacantan, where greenhouses cover the hillsides. Here, indigenous dress is embellished in exquisite floral designs, mimicking the flowers they grow. First we visit the church, bedecked in fresh flowers. Then we’ll meet weavers and embroiderers in their home workshops. Next stop is magical, mystical San Juan Chamula where the once-Catholic church is given over to a pre-Hispanic pagan religious practice that involves chickens, eggs and coca-cola. We’ll roam Chamula’s abundant textile market, compare and contrast fabrics and designs, then visit the home workshop of a Chamula woman in her village outside of town who will give us a full demonstration that includes spinning, back strap loom weaving, dyeing, and the unique Chamula process for making the long-haired tunics. (B, L) Dinner on your own.

At the textile museum, an outstanding collection

At the textile museum, an outstanding collection of Maya weaving

Monday, February 20: We will set out by foot after breakfast for a full morning at Na Balom, Jaguar House, the home/of anthropologist Franz Blom and his photographer wife, Gertrude Duby Blom. The house is now a museum filled with pre-Hispanic and jewelry collections. We walk the gardens and learn about Trudy’s work with the Lacandon tribe and relationship with Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. After lunch at Na Balom, you will have the afternoon and evening on your own. (B, L)

Jaguar pot, Amantenango, Chiapas

Jaguar pot, Amantenango, Chiapas

Tuesday, February 21: Today, we want to give you enough time to know and discover San Cristobal de Las Casas. We will suggest destinations to explore on your own: the Maya Medicine MuseumJade Museum, Chocolate Museum, and Coffee Museum. We can also recommend an optional cooking class with one of the city’s top chefs and make those arrangements for you in advance for an added cost. You may want to use your time to explore the town’s wonderful churches, learn about the Zapatista movement, revisit textile shops or just stroll the lively walking streets stopping for a great cup of Chiapas coffee and people watching. A surprise artisan demonstration, show and sale may pop-up sometime during the day, too. (B)

The best of the best vintage from San Andres Larrainzar, Chiapas

The best vintage from Magdalenas, Chiapas — if you can find it, buy it.

Wednesday, February 22: Men from Magdalena Aldama who weave bags made from ixtle, agave cactus leaf fiber, join us at our hotel after breakfast. Accompanying them are the women who make flashy beaded necklace strings and beautiful hand-woven huipils. Afternoon is on your own to do last minute shopping and packing in preparation for your trip home. We end our study tour with a gala group goodbye dinner. (B, D)

San Juan Chamula Sunday market

San Juan Chamula Sunday market in February

Thursday, February 23: Depart. We will coordinate departures with included van service from San Cristobal de las Casas to the Tuxtla Gutierrez airport. You will connect from Tuxtla to Mexico City and then on to your home country. Please wait to make you airplane reservations until you hear from us about van departure time.

What Is Included

  • 9 nights lodging at a top-rated San Cristobal de las Casas hotel within easy walking distance of the historic center
  • 9 breakfasts
  • 6 lunches
  • 3 dinners
  • museum and church entry fees
  • luxury van transportation
  • outstanding and complete guide services
  • transfers to/from Tuxtla Gutierrez airport

The workshop does NOT include airfare, taxes, tips, travel insurance, liquor or alcoholic beverages, some meals, and local transportation as specified in the itinerary.  We reserve the right to substitute instructors and alter the program as needed.

Cost

  • $2,395 double room with private bath (sleeps 2)
  • $2,795 single room with private bath (sleeps 1)

There will be a sign-up in advance for a cooking class on Tuesday, February 21. Please let me know if you are interested in this option. Cost to be announced.

Home goods from Chiapas textile cooperative

Home goods from Chiapas textile cooperative

Who Should Attend

  • Textile and fashion designers
  • Weavers, embroiderers and collectors
  • Home goods wholesalers/retailers who want a direct source
  • Photographers and artists who want inspiration
  • Anyone who loves cloth, culture and collaboration

In years past, I have purchased lengths of used hand-woven ikat Maya skirt fabric to repurpose into clothing and upholstery.

Reservations and Cancellations.  A 40% deposit is required to guarantee your spot. The balance is due in two equal payments. The first 30% payment is due on or before October 15, 2016. The second 30% payment is due on or before December 31, 2016. We accept payment with PayPal only. We will send you an itemized invoice when you tell us you are ready to register. After December 31, 2016, refunds are not possible. You may send a substitute in your place. If you cancel on or before December 31, 2016, we will refund 50% of your deposit.

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Detail of cross-stitched bodice, called punto de cruz

Required–Travel Health/Accident Insurance:  We require that you carry international accident/health/emergency evacuation insurance. Proof of insurance must be sent at least 30 days before departure.  In addition, we will send you by email a PDF of a witnessed waiver of responsibility, holding harmless Norma Schafer and Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC.  We ask that you return this to us by email 30 days before departure. Unforeseen circumstances happen!

Workshop Details and Travel Tips.  Before the workshop begins, we will email you study tour details and documents that includes extensive travel tips and information. To get your questions answered and to register, contact Norma Schafer.

This retreat is produced by Norma Schafer, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC. We reserve the right to make itinerary changes and substitutions as necessary.

Old woven ixtle bag used to hold pulque or lunch

Old woven ixtle bag used to hold pulque or lunch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3-Day Pop Up Huipil Sale: Mexican Folk Art Dresses

These textiles — dresses and blouses — huipiles and blusas — are from my personal collection. I’ve decided it’s time to send them on to others who will also appreciate their handwoven and embroidered beauty.

If you buy by Wednesday, March 30, I will bring your purchase with me to the USA and mail to you. Send me an email and tell me which piece(s) you want.

7 pieces left! Scroll down to see. Take 20% off remaining pieces! Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday sale. Say SALE when you email.

  1. San Antonino floral dress, embroidered and crocheted, finest quality. Size L-XL. New. Never worn! See the little dolls that form the bodice gathers? Cotton. Hand wash. $295. USD includes shipping to anywhere USA.

 

2. Traditional Chinantla Huipil from San Felipe Usila. Size L-XL. Handwoven on back strap loom. New, never worn! Bought on a visit to Usila, 12 hours from Oaxaca. 100% cotton. $375 USD includes shipping to anywhere USA.

3. San Miguel Soyaltepec huipil, size L-XL. Chinantla region of Oaxaca. New, never worn! Hand stitched on finest quality muslim cotton. Bought on a visit to the island village on the Miguel Aleman dam. $295 USD includes shipping to anywhere USA.

 

4. San Bartolo Yautepec huipil from the Sierra Sur of Oaxaca, hand-woven on back strap loom with 100% fine cotton (cream color), with blue figures and butterscotch yellow accents woven into the cloth (called supplemental weft). Size L-XL. $295 USD include shipping to anywhere USA.

5. SOLD. San Antonino Castillo Velasco blouse. Size L-XL. $85USD includes shipping to anywhere USA. 

6. From the Yucatan, machine stitched cotton dress with cutwork, perfect for a garden party summer, size L-XL. New, never worn! $125 USD includes shipping to anywhere USA.

7. SOLD. Lightweight, easy-to-wear cotton dress from Yalag, all hand embroidered. Size L-XL. $125 USD includes shipping to anywhere USA.

 

8. From San Juan Bautista Valle Nacional, near Tuxtepec, Oaxaca. Needlepoint embroidery called punto de cruz (cross stitch) on back-strap loomed cotton, breathable and easy-to-wear. $195 USD includes shipping to anywhere USA.

9. Huipil blouse from Amantenango, Chiapas. I loved the graphic beauty of this piece. All hand-embroidered. Size L-XL. Could be repurposed to make a pillow cover. New, never worn! $140 USD includes shipping to anywhere USA.

10. SOLD. From Puebla, Mexico. Hand-embroidered blouse with great detail. Size L-XL. $125 USD includes shipping to anywhere USA.

 

11. SOLD. Iconic Oaxaca huipil from the Mixteca region, with intricate and finest embroidery on cotton woven on the back-strap loom. Size L-XL. $295 USD includes shipping to anywhere USA.

 

12. SOLD. Black Rebozo from Tenancingo de Degollado. $125 USD includes shipping to anywhere USA. A beautiful, largest size shawl with hand-knotted fringe.

Natural Dyes and Indigo Blue Easter Eggs

I’ve never seen dyed Easter eggs here in Oaxaca, but perhaps someone could correct me if I just haven’t noticed them. Yet, here we are in the world of natural dyes. My personal favorite is indigo blue. So, when this post from Improvised Life came to my inbox this morning, I felt compelled to share it.

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs Made Simple

This segues into the world of natural dyes here in Oaxaca, where a kilogram of indigo from the coast costs over $100 USD. In the spirit of indigo blue, I’d like to share these photos with you of indigo blue dyed textiles taken during recent Natural Dye Textiles and Weaving Study Tour programs.

 

Thanks to Juana Gutierrez, Galeria Fe y Lola, Alfredo Hernandez Orozco, Bii Dauu Cooperative, Elsa Sanchez Diaz, Arturo Hernandez and Porfirio Gutierrez for their talent to keep the world of natural dyes alive here.

Tenancingo Rebozos: Pop-Up Sale Online

It’s easy to get carried away and fall in love with ikat cotton rebozos in Tenancingo de Degollado, Estado de Mexico. Of course, I bought a few too many during our recent Mexico Textiles and Folk Art Tour Study Tour: Tenancingo Rebozos and More! 

Ikat: a design technique where the warp threads are first dyed before they are tied onto the loom and create the pattern in the cloth. Very time intensive!

I also love to sew and so … I have three rebozos I have repurposed, designed and sewn into pullover ponchos. These are all cotton, have French seams and open sides — one size fits all. Just slip it over a tank top or bathing suit for a summer cover-up, or wear over a light-weight Tee and jeans to add pizzaz. Makes a nice evening wrap, too.

This post offers 3 pullover ponchos and 7 rebozos, scarves or shawls. Keep scrolling to see all.  Send me an email if you want something!

Pop-Up Sale: Buy Before March 29, 2016.

After that, the sale goes away! I’m leaving Oaxaca on March 30 for a several week visit with friends and to take care of business in North Carolina. I’ll take what you buy with me and ship to you (USA only) as soon as I get there. Send me an email and I’ll let you know how to pay. Many thanks.

  • Pullover Poncho #1–Tomato Red and Black. Ikat cloth hand-woven on the counterbalance pedal loom. 28″ long from the shoulder seam, 26″ wide and a 5″ collar that drapes beautifully. French seams. Open sides (sew them closed if you like.) One size fits all. $95 + shipping.
  • Pullover Poncho #2 —  Spring and Olive Green. Ikat hand-woven cloth made on the counterbalance pedal loom. 27″ long and 29″ wide with a 7″ cowl collar. French seams. Open sides. One size fits all. $95 + shipping. See below.

 

  • SOLD! Pullover Poncho #3–Periwinkle Blue. Ikat cloth hand-woven on the counterbalance pedal loom. 32″ long from the shoulder seam, 28″ wide with a hand-stitched scoop neckline. French seams. Open sides (sew them closed if you like and voila, a dress!) One size fits all. $95 + shipping.

  • Rebozo #1: Blue and Brown by Fito Garcia, one of Tenancingo’s masters. 74″ long. 29″ wide. Plus a 13″ punta (hand-knotted fringe). Below. $185. + shipping.

  • SOLD! Rebozo #2: Black and Brown. Dramatic ikat design with impressive hand-knotted 13″ punta. 74″ long, 29″ wide. $165 + shipping. Below.

  

  • Rebozo #3: Very finely woven by master Jose Luis Rodriguez, soft as silk chalina in two-tone dark and light blue. 65″ long, 29″ wide with an intricate 13″ punta. $155 + shipping.  See below.

 

Please send me an email if you want to make a purchase. Thank you!

  • Rebozo #4: Forest green and navy blue ikat rebozo, 68″ long, 26-1/2″ wide, with a knotted 5″ punta. $125 + shipping. See below left.

Blue-Green rebozo (left), $125 + shipping.

L-Blue-Green rebozo, $125+ shipping. R-scarf with chaquira beads, $75+shipping

  • Rebozo #5: Red and camel ikat scarf, 20″ wide, 61″ long with 9″ punta. $85+ shipping. See below.

 

  • Rebozo #6: Mango scarf with blue ikat accent stripes and chaquira beads hand-knotted into the fringe. Great accent piece! $75+ shipping. See below right.

 

  • Rebozo #7: Above left is a beautiful, soft silky cotton ikat scarf, 58″ long and 18″ wide, with loose fringes. I loved this one because of the ikat gradations along the center panel of the scarf. $65+ shipping.

Please send me an email if you want to make a purchase. Thank you!

Come along with me on the next Rebozo study tour in September for the annual Rebozo Fair in Tenancingo de Degollado, Estado de Mexico.