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- 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.
Programs can be scheduled to meet your travel plans. Send us your available dates.
Designers, retailers, wholesalers, universities and other organizations come to us to develop customized itineraries, study abroad programs, meetings and conferences. It's our pleasure to make arrangements.
Our Clients Include *Penland School of Crafts *North Carolina State University *WARP Weave a Real Peace *Methodist University
Tell us how we can put a program together for you! Send an email email@example.com
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Lower Price, Return to Teotitlan del Valle: 2018 Oaxaca Women’s Creative Writing Retreat with Gentle Yoga
So, you are coming to Oaxaca for Day of the Dead!
Here is a chance to get beyond the sugar skulls and cemeteries, the masks and parades, and go deeper into the natural dye traditions of our wonderful region without leaving the city of Oaxaca.
Put your hands into the indigo dye bath. Watch them turn blue: A Day of the Dead Badge of Distinction. (OK, you can wash it off with soap and water, if you want.)
Natural dyes have been used by indigenous people of Oaxaca to color wool, cotton and silk for centuries. It thrives today among a small group of local artisans dedicated to preserving cultural history.
Blue Hands Special:
2-Day Day of the Dead Natural Dye Workshop
Sunday and Monday, October 28-29, 2017 OR
Friday and Saturday, November 3-4, 2017
10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
$250* per person, 4 participants maximum each session
*Bring a friend, get a discount, pay $225 for each
We are based in a Centro Historico neighborhood within walking distance (about six city blocks) from Oaxaca’s Zocalo — downtown plaza.
The hands-on workshop includes 10 hours of instruction to learn about Oaxaca´s natural dye traditions, materials and techniques used in the Central Valley of Oaxaca.
The workshop focuses on understanding how the chemistry of natural dyes act on the protein fibers (we use wool), and how this can be reproduced in your home or studio using local materials.
The workshop includes cochineal, indigo, pomegranate, marigolds, and brazilwood to create 16 different colors. Participant will receive recipes and put together a sampler of each natural dye color created on hand-spun 100% churro sheep wool.
Sourcing local materials
Discussing Oaxaca natural dye traditions
Understanding fibers and how they react to dye
Mordanting, and how it works
Extracting color — sampling for intensity
Preparing the natural indigo vat
Dyeing and over-dyeing to get color range
Limited availability: 4 participants for each workshop
To register, contact: Norma Schafer, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC
We will send you an invoice to pre-pay with PayPal. When we receive funds, we will confirm your registration and send you instructor contact information, and a map.
The workshop includes instruction, all materials, recipes and the sampler. It does not include beverages, snacks or lunch. We suggest you bring your own if you get thirsty or hungry.
About the Dye Studio
We hold the dye workshops on the rooftop terrace of a home located in the City of Oaxaca, only 10 minutes walking from the main square of the capital. The studio was founded by two artisans, wife and husband, who are committed to preserving natural dye traditions. The wife is a native of Oaxaca City. The husband is a fourth generation member of a family of weavers and dyers in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca. Both are bilingual, speaking Spanish and English.
For the last 12 years, the couple has focused on natural dyeing processes and traditions. Their experience includes researching local indigo and cochineal, collaborating with local and international dyers, experimenting with recipes and testing fastness of the colors on both protein (wool, silk) and cellulose fibers (cotton, linen, hemp).
Both have taught dye workshops in universities, cultural centers and museums in Mexico, the United States and Europe. Currently, the studio provides the service of dyeing fibers for local artisan weavers and teaching workshops.
Christmas in Oaxaca is magical. In ancient villages throughout the central valleys, indigenous Zapotec people celebrate with a mix of pre-Hispanic mystical ritual blended with Spanish-European Catholic practice.
They retrace the Census pilgrimage (Roman command to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem for Cesar’s census) of Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem. The posadas in Teotitlan del Valle are held for nine nights, culminating with the last posada on Christmas Eve. Each host family serves as innkeeper for the night, throwing a big party, and welcoming guests into the home.
The procession is elaborate and takes the pilgrims and the litter carrying Mary and Joseph from one inn to the next, through the winding cobblestone streets of the village, touching each neighborhood. Women carrying beeswax candles and children with sparklers guide the way. Altar boys illuminate the streets with candle-topped stanchions.
Copal incense leaves an aroma trail. Church officials send firecrackers skyward to announce the coming of the pilgrims to the next neighborhood. It is solemn, festive and spiritual.
What could be better than to experience one day of this celebration with those who lives here? This is an informal cultural immersion walking tour, so be prepared to walk, and then walk some more! Please bring your camera if you like. You will have permission to take photos.
- When: Friday, December 22 — One Day ONLY
- Time: 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. (approximate end time)
- Where: Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico
- Cost: $125 per person includes late afternoon supper
Who is this one-day study tour for? Anyone interested in knowing more about how Christmas is celebrated in a Mexican village. All amateur photographers are welcome, from no to mid-level experience, and anyone interested in photo tourism and who wants a more personal travel experience.
Group Size Limited to 8 People: We welcome children and young adults ages 12 and over.
You will follow me into the homes of Zapotec families to talk about and observe the celebrations and decorations. You will have plenty of photo opportunities to capture images of people and place. You will take home memories that cannot be duplicated, to be treasured and shared for a lifetime.
What You Will See:
- Behind the gates, behind the walls, honest village life
- Food preparation for special occasions
- Homes and altar rooms elaborately decorated for Christmas
- Candlelit processions, complete with incense and mysticism
During the day, we will visit several family homes to see how they celebrate Christmas. We will bring chocolate and bread to the altar in greeting, a tradition.
After dark, we will take part in the procession that will carry Mary and Joseph on litters from one home to the next on their recreated journey to Bethlehem.
Photography Opportunities–What You Will Do:
- Attend to natural and artificial lighting to get the best shot
- Practice street photography on-the-hoof
- Request permission from people to take their photos
- Discuss photo-taking etiquette, When to ask or not?
- Create portrait opportunities with the people you meet
- Gain access to family compounds
- Point out great photo opportunities
- Explore night photography challenges and opportunities
- Go home with a portfolio of your experiences
We DO NOT give instruction on how to use your camera. This will not be about camera settings or technical information. You will want to know your camera before you arrive. We will not offer an editing session or instructions on how to edit.
We DO provide a rich, cultural immersion experience, with all types of cameras welcome: mobile phone cameras, film, DSLR and mirrorless, instant, Poloroid, etc.
What to Bring:
- Your spirit of discovery and adventure
- Your camera
- Extra batteries and charger
- Extra storage disks
- Optional tripod, if you wish
- Notepad and pen
Lodging Options: You may wish to make this a day trip and return to Oaxaca city on the same night. Or you may wish to spend the night in Teotitlan del Valle (or perhaps several). Choose Casa Elena, Las Granadas B&B guesthouse, or La Cupula. Make your own reservations and pay your hosts directly.
About Your Photo Walking Tour Leader: Norma Schafer is an experienced amateur photographer who enjoys taking portraits as much as capturing the pulsating world of Oaxaca village life. Her photographs have been exhibited at Duke University, The Levine Museum of the American South, and featured in two chapters of the award-winning book, Textile Fiestas of Mexico (Thrums). She is most interested in the aesthetic of photography, rather than the technical details, acknowledging that to get a good photo, one must know how the camera works first!
How to Book Your Reservation: Send Norma an email to let her know you want to participate. We will send you an invoice to make a PayPal payment to secure your place.
Cancellations: If, once you make your 100% prepaid reservation, and you find you are unable to attend, you may cancel up to 30 days in advance and receive a 50% refund. After that, refunds are not possible. You are always welcome to send a substitute in your place.
Trip Insurance: We strongly encourage you to take out trip cancellation and medical evacuation insurance. We cannot emphasize enough how important this is when traveling in any foreign country. Since this is a one-day excursion, trip insurance is not mandatory, but highly advisable.