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Norma Contributes Two Chapters!
- Norma Schafer and Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC has offered programs in Mexico since 2006. We have over 30 years of university program development experience. See my resume.
Study Tours + Study Abroad are personally curated and introduce you to Mexico's greatest artisans. They are off-the-beaten path, internationally recognized. We give you access to where people live and work. Yes, it is safe and secure to travel. Groups are limited in size for the most personal experience.
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Our Clients Include *Penland School of Crafts *North Carolina State University *WARP Weave a Real Peace *Methodist University
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Category Archives: Travel & Tourism
Millions of Monarch Butterflies: A Visit to the Biosphere Reserve in Michoacan, Mexico: Study Tour Details
International Women’s Day was Thursday, March 8, 2018. It’s days later and I now find time to acknowledge, honor, recognize, applaud some of the women we met along the way during our two back-to-back Chiapas Textile Study Tours in February and March this year.
I don’t know all their names.
Their hands, feet and faces are universal stories of women who work hard with little recompense.
Their garments tell the stories of culture, history, creativity and subjugation by Spanish conquerors who imposed clothing style as indigenous identifier.
Most are women who weave or embroider.
Some are women who craft pottery — cooking vessels and decorative jaguars, many of them life-size.
A few are famous. Most are not.
They are mothers, daughters, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, nieces.
Some, like Rosa and her husband Cristobal, participated in the 1994 Zapatista uprising to stand for indigenous rights. The movement paved the way for a stronger voice for women.
They carry babies on their backs, harnessed by robozos.
They use rebozos shifted to the front of their bodies so infants can suckle. They use rebozos to carry market vegetables and fruit to the cooking fires.
Few are professionals like Lourdes who translates Spanish to English for us, educated in sophisticated cities far away.
Others head cooperatives, organizing the business of textile making and selling to sustain families.
Some are faceless. We see their progeny.
A few are expats from Italy, France, Canada, the United States or Japan, who migrate to the promise land.
We see hands making tortillas, tending the cooking fire, soothing a child’s cry, serving a husband dinner.
Most of all, we know that women’s work begins early and ends late, is continuous, often self-less and usually in the service of others.
Take a moment to consider what women around the world give as we regard those whose photos we see here.
Take a moment to give thanks to all the women in the world. We are more similar than we are different.
Wandering around San Cristobal de Las Casas last week I discovered Punto y Trama, on Belisario Dominguez #13b, just two blocks off the Andador Real de Guadalupe walking street. What drew me in was the sign on the door that announced PomPom workshops.
Then, once inside I immediately noticed the furry wool Chamula woven shawls adorned with PomPoms. A new fashion trend, I noted.
PomPoms are big here in San Cristobal. They dangle from everything: necks, ears, wrists, shoulder and handbags, woven string shopping bags, and garments. They serve as functional ties and outrageous adornment. Sometimes they are combined with hearts, beads, Frida portraits, tassels.
I decided to take a PomPom making workshop, fascinated by another way to work with fiber as part of textile and clothing design.
This is a three-hour one-day workshop OR six-hour two-day workshop taught by Lazaro Ramirez, whose family is originally from Magdalenas Aldama. The cost is 350 pesos per session. That translates to about $18 USD at the current exchange rate.
At the end of three hours I had made three PomPoms. I decided to order the quantity I wanted from Lazaro instead of making them myself. The class exercise gave me a great appreciation for the time needed to craft one PomPom, which he sells at 15 pesos each. And, each one is perfect.
Fifteen pesos each equals about eight cents. That’s eight cents an hour, including labor and materials.
Lazaro says you can use wool to make the PomPoms, but synthetic polyester yarn is finer and gives a tight, compact product with glorious colors — electric, like the people here prefer.
I learned all the wrapping, tying and cutting techniques. The most time consuming is to hold the PomPom at the “north and south poles” and to cut along the “equator,” constantly turning until a perfect ball forms. Not an easy task, I learned.
I intend to use the PomPoms to decorate the checked wool shawls I bought in Chamula last week. They make great pillows, bed throws, or a shoulder covering on a chilly night — with pizzazz.
#fashrev: It’s estimated that 80 billion pieces of clothing are shipped from factories and distributed around the world.
Oaxaca and Chiapas have a lot in common. They are the two poorest states in Mexico, have the lowest literacy rates and in the rural areas there is little or no access to health care.
Chiapas and Oaxaca have the highest percentage of indigenous people in Mexico, yet they are under-represented in politics and business, lack access to education.
For this entire time in Chiapas, I am using only my iPhone 8Plus with zoom lens. All the photos you’ve seen since February 12 are from my portable device with very little editing. I’m a devotee. Thinking of selling other equipment!
Thank you for following this adventure. There is more to come. Our Chiapas Textile Study Tour Group 2 starts this coming Tuesday evening.
Join us for 2019 Chiapas Textile Study Tour, February 27-March 8