Category Archives: Workshops and Retreats

Summer Frocks From Mexico For Sale

It’s getting steamy hot here in North Carolina. It reminds me of growing up in Southern California pre-air conditioning, when my mom would shut windows and shades tight as soon as the sun came up trying to keep the chill desert night contained for another day. We learned to hunker down in summer heat. Now, I like going to a matinee movie to keep cool and can walk to one easily from my downtown condo.

CHECK OUT THE SALE. PRICES REDUCED BELOW. 

I’m leaving here on June 22 to begin my return to Oaxaca for the summer, where afternoon rains serve as nature’s air conditioning. This means, if you are interested in shopping and ordering, you need to do this before June 20.

How to Order:  Send me an email. Send me your address. Tell me which item(s) you want by number. I’ll send you a PayPal invoice to complete your payment (I’ll be adding $8 mailing cost to the total.)

Okay, now for the goodies.

1A. San Antonino dress, embroidery, crochet, gathered bodice

1A. This San Antonino dress has been part of my collection, new and never worn. Notice the dense embroidered flowers and birds, the tiny dolls on the bodice that serve to hold the gathers, the fine crochet work around the neckline, sleeve edges and skirt. Bodice is 24″ wide across the front, armpit to armpit. Dress measures 40″ long. Hard to find one like this now. WAS $275 USD. BUY IT NOW $225 USD.

1B. Bodice detail with fine muñecas (dolls) that hold the gathers

1C. An abundance of flowers!

2A. Chiapas, Mexico, fine embroidered blouse from Sna Jolobil Cooperative

2. Sna Jolobil is the premiere cooperative in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, founded by Chip Morris and Pedro Meza. This pull-over is the finest 100% cotton and the embroidery hand-work is exquisite. It is a soft yellow green and the threads are so fine and dense you can’t see any of the base cloth.  Measures 26″ wide by 28″ long. $125 USD.  You can see their work at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market this summer, too. SALE. BUY IT NOW FOR $89.

2B. Detail of Sna Jolobil blusa

3. Black gauze Aguacatenango, Chiapas, blouse made by Francisca

3.  SOLD. This lightweight, comfortable all cotton blouse with long sleeves is totally made by hand. Even the finished French seams and hem are stitched by hand. All hand-embroidered bodice and sleeve accents. Perfect for casual wear or a dressy hot summer evening. Measures 22″ wide across bodice from armpit to armpit and 30″ long. Size M-L. $85 USD.

We go to Francisca’s house in this village on our 2019 Chiapas Textile Study Tour There are a few places left. Come with us.

4. Olive green cotton gauze blouse with brilliant collar embroidery

4. SOLD. Another beauty from Francesca, this lightweight cotton blouse is trimmed in multi-colored cotton embroidery floss at neckline and cuff reflecting how Mexican women are not afraid of color. Measures 22″ wide at bust and 30″ long. Size M-L. $75 USD.

5. Wine red blouse hand-woven on a back-strap loom, Chiapas

5. SOLD. This cotton blouse is woven on a back-strap loom in the village of Aldama Magdalenas. I bought it from a small family cooperative there. It is excellent quality and the design is woven right into the cloth — a process called supplementary weft. Measures 24-1/2″ wide and 28″ long. WAS $75 USD.BUY IT NOW FOR $59 USD. 

6. Aldama blouse, hand-woven on back-strap loom

6. From the same cooperative in Aldama Magdalenas, this easy-to-care-for cotton blouse is woven on the back-strap loom in two pieces and stitched together by hand. The pattern across the chest is woven into the cloth. The trim around the neck and sleeve is embroidered by hand. SALE. WAS $65. USD. BUY IT NOW FOR $49 USD. 

7. Zinacantan flowers come to life with cross-stitching, vintage blouse

7.  SOLD. Too beautiful to pass up! It is getting more difficult to find any hand-work in Zinacantan, Chiapas these days. This is done with punto de cruz or cross-stitch. The entire bodice is filled with flowers. The base cloth is polyester (full disclosure). The ladies there don’t care, since it washes up and will dry immediately without shrinkage. They wear the blouse tucked into their fanciful skirts, so the solid fabric doesn’t show. Measures 26″ wide x 28″ long. $125 USD.

What can you use this for? Wear it! Hang it! Make a pillow out of it!

8. Zinacantan cross-stitch blouse, vintage

8. SOLD. Here is another cross-stitch blouse with fine needlework. The seams are closed with hand-stitching, too. Base cloth is polyester and there are some stains on the cloth. So, I will sell this for much less than the other. Measures 30″ wide x 27″ long. $65 USD.

What can you make from this one? A handbag? A pillow cover? Repurpose the embroidered part and sew it into the bodice of a new dress?

9. Juchitan Tehuantepec Frida Kahlo Style Blouse

9. Slinky black fabric (I think it’s polyester or rayon) is lined with cotton, and then top-stitched by machine in contrasting navy blue and white. A stunning blouse to wear with pants or a flouncy Frida Kahlo-style skirt. Perfect for cocktails (think mango mezcal margarita) on the deck or terrace. SALE. WAS $75 USD. BUY IT NOW $59 USD. 

10. Zinacantan, Chiapas Chal (shawl)

10.  SOLD. Zinacantan is the flower capital of Chiapas, exporting as far away as the Yucatan and Mexico City. Their love of flowers translates to all things clothing, ceremonial and daily wear, for men and women and children. The Chal is the necessary accessory and reflects a woman’s status (the more flowers, the more expensive) and aesthetics. Color and design popularity change each year. Sometimes we can find an outstanding barely worn chal like this one in the Sunday market. Fabric is cotton/poly blend with machine stitched embroidery. Measures 21-3/4″ wide x 46″ long. $125 USD.

Wear it. Drape it over the back of a chair. Use it as a bed throw. Make it into a pillow. Hang it. Add sparkle and a lasting bouquet to your living area.

I am constantly acquiring the hand-work of Mexican artisans. Mostly because I love and appreciate their talent, because I enjoy showing that appreciation when I visit their homes and workshops by buying something despite the fact that I don’t need it! I rarely bargain, paying what they ask. I know that hours of work goes into making a garment or a piece of jewelry.

Sometimes I overdo it! Hah. That’s when I take to the blog and offer these to you.

Of course, you can come with me to

Chiapas in February 2019 and do your own shopping!

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.

 

Women’s Writing Retreat in Oaxaca, Mexico: Take a Discount and Express Yourself

This is our 8th year to offer the Oaxaca Women’s Creative Writing and Gentle Yoga Retreat from June 22-29, 2018. We want a full-house and are offering a 10% discount off the already high-value, low price of $895 for a shared room and $1195 for a single room. It’s not too late to get on board and join us.

Who is this for? Beginning and experienced writers, those who believe they can do it and need inspiration and coaching, note-jotters and margin-scribblers. Do you have an idea for a novel, a memoir, a prose poem, a travel piece or family history? This is the place for you.

See the complete course description HERE.

Send me an email with your interest HERE.

Please share with family and friends who would like this retreat.

Millions of Monarch Butterflies: A Visit to the Biosphere Reserve in Michoacan, Mexico: Study Tour Details

The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in the State of Michoacan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It encompasses most of the municipality of Angangueo, an old mining town high in the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt and the Sierra Angangueo.  Average altitude here is 8,500 feet.
An overnight visit to this tunneled colonial mountain town to explore the butterfly sanctuary is part of our Michoacan Folk Art + Textile Study Tour set to start January 31, 2019.

We may see millions of Monarch butterflies

There are several sanctuaries where the Monarchs gather in colonies that sometimes reach over 20 million individuals. They travel more than 5,000 kilometers (3,107 miles) from Canada to Mexico from November through March, completing several generations of the life cycle.
We will have a half-day plus a full day in Angangueo on February 8 and 9 of our January 31 to February 11 study tour to explore one or two butterfly sanctuaries and the historic mining town. We will arrive from Patzcuaro in time for 12:30-2:30 p.m. butterfly activity. You get into the sanctuary by horseback or hiking. Your tour includes transportation into the sanctuary by horse!

Butterfly life cycle

Six spaces are spoken for! Four spaces are available. Is one of them for you?
Send me an email after you review the complete study tour itinerary and let me know if you want to participate.

Making PomPoms in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas

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.

Lazaro Ramirez trimming a PomPom to perfection

Then, once inside I immediately noticed the furry wool Chamula woven shawls adorned with PomPoms. A new fashion trend, I noted.

First, you wrap 6 threads of yarn around a tube 150 times.

Slide the yarn off the tube.

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.

Tie the yarn tight with waxed linen

I decided to take a PomPom making workshop, fascinated by another way to work with fiber as part of textile and clothing design.

Cut all the loops open

Cut, cut, cut, holding the yarn ball at the poles

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.

Keep cutting around the equator, turning the ball constantly

Use a sharp scissor. You’ll be cutting bits at a time, like shaving

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.

The green one is almost done but still ragged. Yellow is perfect.

Fifteen pesos each equals about eight cents. That’s eight cents an hour, including labor and materials.

Here is the PomPom and tassel I made. Lazaro made the heart.

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.

Included in the class are heart making and embroidery techniques

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.

Choose your style of PomPom and heart, examples to make

Inspired, Juanita takes the class tonight.

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.

PomPom adorned wool shawl hand-woven in Chamula, back strap loom

Punto y Trama owner Manuela Trevini Bellini supports #fashionrevolution

#fashrev: It’s estimated that 80 billion pieces of clothing are shipped from factories and distributed around the world.

I constantly ask: Who made my clothes?