Coming September 8: Textiles from San Mateo del Mar, Oaxaca

Ikoots peoples have been living along the southern coast of Oaxaca for 3,000 years. Their name means Us in their native language. Here along the rocky coast, villagers make their living as fishermen and weavers. In the old days, they hunted sea turtles, now endangered. Some still do, which is legal for native people. The women participated in the livelihood of the fishing village by weaving nets and traps from sturdy plant fiber. They also create finely woven huipiles on the back-strap loom.

I am proud to announce that I have just brought 15 beautiful textiles from this village, made by the most famous weaver — Francisca Palafox — and her family. Some of you may recognize Francisca’s name if you have been to Oaxaca. Collector and textile purveyor Remigio Mestas offers her pieces for sale in his gallery on the Alcala. The silk and Egyptian cotton huipiles with natural dyes are sought by collectors and fetch prices equal to their beauty.

Some of the pieces are woven with silk, are dyed with indigo or cochineal or mahogany. They depict the flora and fauna of the region: birds, animals, sea life. There are various sizes, and the box included three fall-winter weight cotton ponchos that can also be used as throws.

A Day in San Mateo del Mar with Francisca Palafox

We have several pieces made by Francisca and her daughter Jazmin. I am beginning to prepare all for posting tomorrow.

The shop (ie. the BLOG POST) will open at 12 pm. Noon, Eastern Daylight Time. Please set your timer or alarm clock!

No early sales. First come, first served.

I visit this village in 2009 with the Museo Textil de Oaxaca director, curator and education director where I met Francisca and her family. It is far off the beaten path and few ever get there. It was amazing and memorable, and a long time ago.

Francisca Palafox, 2009

Now, there are no tourists in Oaxaca to buy, and few willing to travel the eight hours from the city to get to this little village. Let’s help them by supporting their work.

On September 7, 2017, a devastating 8.2 earthquake hit San Mateo del Mar with ferocity, destroying homes and infrastructure. This was the strongest earthquake in a century. Many villagers still have not recovered. The village was very close to the epicenter, off the coast just a few miles from Salina Cruz and Juchitan.

Antonina Herran Roldan, Francisca’s mother, age 73 in 2009

While we are unable to travel freely and return to Oaxaca because of covid-19, this is one very important and direct way to support her artisans.

Thank you for what you can do!

Double-sized figures — a very difficult weaving technique

It’s September. Tomato Ginger Chutney Time. Recipe.

I posted photos and ingredients of my favorite September past-time: making tomato-ginger chutney on my Facebook page. People wrote to ask for the recipe, so here it is (below).

Now this is appropriate. Did you know that tomatoes originated in Mexico as early as 700 AD? It’s no wonder I love this concoction.

Ready for the pantry … or the belly!
Try it on blue corn chips — gluten-free!

I’ve been making this condiment for 40 years every September when there is a plethora of ripe garden tomatoes. It is a ritual that started in South Bend, Indiana, where I was a young mother and met my long-time friend, Natalie Klein. We would go to farmer’s market (or grow our own) and stock up on the harvest. Over the years, I’ve adapted the flavors of Natalie’s original recipe to make it my own.

The slow simmer — ready when froth is no more

Next week, I’m taking a road trip to Indiana where Natalie and I will have a jam-making reunion. (We are both virus-free, virus-safe, super-cautious.)

Using tool to remove from hot water bath

This is a perfect accompaniment to any meat, fowl or fish dish. Schmear it on a toasted bagel, with or without cream cheese. Use it as syrup over pancakes or French toast. Gift it for the holidays. Serve it at Thanksgiving alongside your turkey.

Ready to eat!

Prep time: About an hour. Cooking time: About an hour.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of peeled, cored and thinly sliced tomatoes (about 4-5 tomatoes)
  • 4 cups sugar (I prefer organic, cane sugar)
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 stick cinnamon, broken into pieces
  • 1/4 tsp. hot red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 3 T. fresh grated ginger or 2 T. minced candied ginger
  • 1 medium navel orange, sliced thin
  • 1 small lemon, sliced thin
  • 1/2 C. chopped fresh pineapple (optional)
  • 3-4 whole cloves (optional)
Ready when slow drips from spoon — like syrup

To peel tomatoes, bring an 8-qt. pot of water to boil. Core whole tomatoes. Score an X at the blossom end with a sharp knife. Immerse in boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove. Cool. Peel.

Add all ingredients to a stainless steel 4-6 qt. saucepan. Base of pan should have a thick aluminum core. Do not use a thin based pot or you will burn your ingredients. My preferred cooking vessels are made by All-Clad Aluminum, which I sold 40-years ago in my gourmet cookware shop and cooking school, The Clay Kitchen, South Bend, Indiana.

I like to recycle jelly jars, too.

First cook over low heat until sugars begin to melt. Turn burner to medium-high heat and bring to boil. Adjust heat and allow mixture to cook at low boil for about 1 hour. You can stir occasionally to make sure mix isn’t sticking to bottom of pan. You need to check the pot periodically to be sure! Safe bet: Use a jelly thermometer. Mix is done when temp reaches 220 degrees Fahrenheit.

Preparation of jars: clean canning jars. Immerse in hot boiling water just before filling. Use new canning lids and bands. Immerse these in boiling water, too, to sterilize.

Sterilizing jars. Some put theirs in dishwasher.

Use a canning funnel and insert it into the jars. Ladle mix into jars with about 1/4″ head space. Wipe rim with wet paper towel to clean off any jam residue. Place lid and band over jar top and tighten band so it is secure.

Immerse jars in an 8 qt. stock pot of boiling water. Cover. Process for 10 minutes. Remove and cool. You will hear the lids pop if the top is properly sealed. You can also press on the lid. If there is no movement, the top is sealed.

Yield: about 2 pints of jam. You can use 1/2 pint jelly jars to prepare for gifting. Natalie doesn’t do a water bath. She refrigerates jam. It will keep open and refrigerated for several months.

Lids and bands waiting in hot water

Sunday Gratitude from Oaxaca Street Children President: Ojala!

The impact of our gifts has been felt! Oaxaca Street Children president David Slaymaker wrote to tell us so and add his thanks. (See below)

Yesterday, I made a personal gift to Oaxaca Street Children Grassroots to sponsor the education of a child for one year. The cost: $250. It seems like a small price to pay for help that will go a long way, administered by a trusted organization. If you can, please make a matching gift. This is one very important and direct way to help Oaxaca during this time of unprecedented crisis.

Make your donation here.

***

Hi Norma- This is Dave Slaymaker from Oaxaca Streetchildren Grassroots. Thank you so much for putting Marla’s guest article on your site. The response has been, frankly, amazing!  I also noted that you just made a donation for a sponsorship as well. Thank you so much!

I am still trying to tally all the donations generated from your site and Marla’s guest article, but with yours we have at least 7 new sponsors and numerous donations. As an example, I got a new sponsorship today inspired by Marla’s article on your site, had a brief correspondence with the donor, and he immediately sent an additional $1,000 for the general fund.

As you well know things are very difficult in Oaxaca and environs lately and I worry daily about our families. My biggest fear is that they will return to the kind of poverty I was seeing 20 years ago ago. Fortunately, with help from people like you and those that follow you we are able to continue our primary mission – education, and have expanded to food distribution as we seek to keep our families safe and well. Right now we have around 700 children and young adults in our program and around 550 families so the help we have received from those that follow you will have a tremendous impact!

Again, I have never seen a response like this for anything we have done in the past and I have been president of the organization for more than 10 years. I can’t begin to express my personal appreciation, and I can’t tell you how much your spreading the word is helping our work. I would like to get down to Oaxaca as soon as possible, but with the pandemic I don’t know when that will be- hopefully soon. I would certainly like to meet you and thank you in person when I do so.

On behalf of the children, young adults, and families we serve in Oaxaca, my sincerest thanks!

Dave

***

You are so generous, my friends! You have my personal and heartfelt thanks, too, for everything you do for the place we love … Oaxaca!

Oaxaca Street Children Grassroots — Centro de Esperanza de Infantil

I have offered FREE FACE MASKS to Oaxaca Street Children, too, made possible by the gifts that many of you have made to our Oaxaca Mask Project. The face masks, or cubrebocas, are sewn by women friends in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca. They are needing work, too, and this project gives them a lifeline for direct support from us.

If you have the inclination to help with a donation to to the mask project, please choose one of these links. You can be assured that we get these masks to people who need them most.

Still accepting gifts. To contribute to The Oaxaca Mask Project, click here:

And, stay tuned for more Oaxaca huipiles coming in the next week from San Mateo del Mar on the southern Oaxaca coast, hard-hit by the 2018 earthquake and not yet recovered, and the third shipment coming in from San Juan Colorado.

Finely woven blusa from San Mateo del Mar

Thank You! From Oaxaca Street Children

Last week, I published a letter from Marla Jensen, a board member of Oaxaca Street Children Grassroots, asking for your help to support the Centro de Esperanza Infantil. Those of us who live in Oaxaca know the importance of this organization. Today, I received this note from Marla, thanking us for our help. It was significant! I want to thank you, too, for your on-going generosity. You are wonderful supporters for Oaxaca in so many ways.

***

Hi Norma,

I just want to thank you again for the opportunity to write on your blog. So far, we have signed up 6 new sponsors and have received a lot of donations.

This has been so significant and rewarding. We are spending donations to purchase a large screen TV for the Center so children can get their school lessons. They will also receive a meal and tutoring at the Center.

We are also going to purchase several smaller televisions for remote villages. While giving children school on TV might sound like a good idea in cities, it leaves behind our poorest who have no TV or electricity. 

Your kind sharing of your forum has brought a lot of help. 

Thanks, Marla

Add your donation here!

They are thanking you!

Shop Open: French Knots Embroidered Blouses from Chiapas

Thank you everyone who supported Francisca. I’m putting in another order soon. We have ONE blouse left — this one:

Last One: Size XS/S — 10″ across bodice, 22″ armpit to armpit, 18″ sleeves. $120

Here is a selection of 8 beautiful hand-embroidered blouses from Aguacatenango, Chiapas. The village is about an hour-and-a-half from San Cristobal de Las Casas. It is situated in a fertile valley where farmers grow corn and women embroider. All the women embroider! The climate is hotter and more humid than in the highlands, so the clothing is lighter weight.

SOLD. #7 Red, Size M, A-12″ B-26″ C-28″ — $120
How to Measure for Fit — measurements in inches
#8 and #9 (TWO for sale), Size XS/S, A-10″ B-21″ C-24″ Sleeve 18″ — $120

There are no sewing machines there. The hand-sewing on these particular today garments is impeccable with finely finished seams. For me, it is important to look at workmanship from the inside out! That means examining the seams for the finish work to make certain there are no rough edges that will unravel after a few washings!

SOLD. #6 Dark Blue, Size M/L, A-12.5″ B-26″ C-27″ — $120
SOLD. #5 Beige, Size L, A-13.5″ B-27.5″ C-27.5″ — $120

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, mailing address and item number. I will mark it SOLD, send you a PayPal link to purchase and add $12 for cost of mailing. Please be sure to select Send Money to Family and Friends!

#3 Baby Blue, Size L, A-13.5″ B-26″ C-27″ — $120
#2 Khaki Green, Size M, A-12″ B-26″ C-27.5″ — $120

Our featured artisan today is Francisca. I met her some years ago when I brought our Chiapas textile tour to the village. Our group exited the van and gathered at the big tree in the church courtyard. Within minutes we were surrounded by twenty women offering us embroidered blouses for sale. Francisca’s were far and away the best!

SOLD. #1, Black, Size M, A-12″ B-26″ C-27.5″ — $95
(slight discoloration at bodice tucks from washing)

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, mailing address and item number. I will mark it SOLD, send you a PayPal link to purchase and add $12 for cost of mailing. Please be sure to select Send Money to Family and Friends!

She invited us to her home, a one-room, concrete block cabin outfitted with table, chairs, two beds, and bags of dried corn in storage. We regrouped on the patio where she gave us an embroidery demonstration and showed us her beautiful blouses. We were blown away by the French knots!

How to Measure for Fit — measurements in inches

A few weeks ago, I contacted Francisca and asked if she could make and send some blouses. This is a custom order, so I specified that I wanted solid-color bodices, all French Knots on 100% cotton cloth we call manta. So many in Mexico are struggling now, and I knew she and her family were no exception. I wanted to give her meaningful, rewarding work.

All hand finished — without a sewing machine

Care Instructions: To wash, turn inside out. Wash by hand or in machine using a delicate setting, in cold water with a mild soap like Fels Naptha. Do not use Woolite. Hang to dry. Press with a steam iron on medium heat.

Pretty amazing workmanship