I’m getting ready to return to Oaxaca next week with a stopover in Mexico City to lead the Art History Tour focusing on the work of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, plus the other noted early 20th century Mexican muralists. (Want to hop down? One space open!)
Before I leave the USA, I usually go through my collection to review what I want to part with. The 15-piece selection is below. Look carefully!
To Buy: Send me an email to email@example.com with your name, address, and item number. I will send you an invoice to pay with credit card. Once I receive your funds, I will mail via USPS to anywhere in the USA. Prices include mailing cost. Please buy and pay before Sunday, October 13, 2019. I return to Mexico on October 16. Thank you VERY much.
This is a one-of-a-kind completely handmade necklace, with handmade hollow silver beads and cast milagros in the image of the Virgin of Juquila, a venerated icon. You’ll never see anything like this again. When clasped, it hangs 20-inches. There are 15 milagros, including the three on the suspended cross. Two additional milagros make up the secure hook clasp. This is a collector’s piece. Price is $995. USD including mailing to anywhere in the USA. (Half the price of Federico with more silver.)
These are famed Oaxaca filigree dangle earrings made by the best artisan silversmith I know. The ones on the left are called Muñecas and have a deep ruby red glass center to accent the sterling silver and pearls. The pair on the right are also an impressive statement piece, pearl and sterling with more of the filigree featured. Each pair has a 2-1/2″ drop from where the wire enters the earlobe, and is $245 each (includes mailing to anywhere in the USA).
Don’t like a price? Make me a reasonable offer!
#3 is an outstanding necklace, 22″ long, that I found at an out-of-the-way Oaxaca vintage antique shop. It was too beautiful to pass up and I added it to my collection. Now it’s time for a new home! $595 includes mailing to anywhere in USA.
#4 are among the last pairs of earrings I have made Brigitte Huet, who worked in Oaxaca for 20+ years before she returned to France in 2015. They are formed using the lost wax casting technique, and are 2″ long. $145 USD includes mailing to anywhere in the USA.
#5 is a sterling silver Mexican bubble bangle is made in Taxco, Guerrero. I’m very picky about quality, and this one is the best. 6″ interior diameter opening. Measure your wrist! $165 includes mailing to anywhere in the USA.
#6 is a rare vintage sterling silver Mexican bubble bracelet with native turquoise and hook clasp made in Taxco, Guerrero. It is in very good condition and measures 7-1/4″ long. $185 USD includes mailing to anywhere in the USA.
Don’t like a price? Make me a reasonable offer.
#7, #8, and #9 are jicara gourd, hand-carved and painted, made in Pinotepa de Don Luis, Oaxaca, Mexico. I hand-select each pair for design quality and workmanship excellence. 2-1/2 to 3″ long. Lightweight, versatile, easy to wear. $45 each includes mailing to anywhere in USA. Please specify color and number when ordering. Thank you.
#12. This is a rare Brigitte Huet sterling silver pendant made in the lost wax casting technique. It is from her earliest collection. Price includes mailing to anywhere in USA.
#10 are made by the Mazahua silversmiths of Estado de Mexico. I bought these in Mexico City. Difficult to find now. 3″ long from where wire enters earlobe to end of coral drop. Will mail free to anywhere in USA.
Don’t like a price? Make me a reasonable offer.
These are 950 sterling silver made by fine Mexican jeweler Melesio Rodriguez. They are each 1-1/4″ long. The design is derived from vintage 1950’s Taxco silversmithing. $165 each pair. Includes mailing to anywhere in USA. Please specify which pair you want by number.
#14 was purchased around 2007 from Brigitte when she was working in Oaxaca using the lost wax casting technique. Her fine work was collected by travelers and residents alike. Rare to still find a piece like this. The iconography is Maya representing the huipil woven designs of noblewomen. $435 USD includes mailing to anywhere in the USA.
#15 was bought in Patzcuaro, Michoacan in the early 1990’s. Rare. The fish is the iconic symbol of the region. Handmade silver beads and chain add interest along with the red beans from which the fish are suspended. Whimsical, beautiful, strong and secure with a hook clasp. $295 includes mailing to anywhere in the USA.
Finally, home to North Carolina and then back to Mexico in two weeks. If you follow me on Facebook you know I’ve been traveling in Eastern Europe. This was a tour offered by one of the largest operators in the world. Their buses and ships zigzag the continents and oceans.
See below for a few treasures I am offering for sale from the trip.
In eleven days, we traveled from Tirana, Albania, to the Dinaric Alps and coast of Montenegro, to historic Adriatic fortified towns occupied by Greeks, then Romans, then Venetians, then Ottomans, then Austro-Hungarians, then Italians and Germans. After WWI, they became part of what we knew as Yugoslavia. The break-up happened after the death of Tito and in the aftermath of the Serbia-Croatian War of 1991. These are new republics.
This is a land of the conquered and conquerors. We entered Kotor, Montenegro, for a one hour-fifteen minute lunch stop, climbed through winding mountain passes to visit crystal clear glaciated lakes and limestone caves filled with stalactites and stalagmites, came to Split for a one-and-a-half hour walkabout. A full day in Dubrovnik was pure luxury. We slipped through Bosnia’s sliver of an access to the Adriatic, before entering Slovenia, part of the European Union. We used Lek,Kuna and Euros along the way.
I went out of curiosity, to be a roommate to my friend, and because the cost was low enough to justify the impulse. Will I do it this way again? Not likely.
We all wear name tags and use headsets, move in lock-step according to the schedule. Most mornings, this 43-person group was on the road by 7:30 a.m. (sometimes earlier) to cover miles of territory, luggage packed and loaded, breakfast inhaled. Many of my photos were taken from the bus window. There was no interaction with native people other than shopkeepers we met along the way. Local tour guides provided interpretive historical and cultural commentary during the one- to two-hour city walking tours.
I learned that there are villages in Slovenia where needle lace is still being made. In towns where we stopped, during free time, I tried to seek out antique dealers who were selling vintage textiles and jewelry. The selection was sparse. Eventually, I succumbed to the rhythm of the group, took a deep breath, and went along for the ride.
Note: From Left to Right, #1, #2 and #3. These three pairs of sterling silver earrings are hand-crafted. The first pair #1 is new with delicate, intricate filigree. Price is $175. #2 is vintage and I bought these earrings in the seaside town of Makarska from a silversmith whose family has been in the business for generations. Price is $165. #3 is a vintage pair of large sterling filigree earrings from Kosovo that I bought in Opatija, Slovenia. Price is $395. Mailing for any pair is $12 USD. Send me an email if you are interested. firstname.lastname@example.org You can see the influences of Austro-Hungarians and Ottoman Turks in the designs and workmanship.
What I validated was an important lesson in how I put together experiences for travelers who choose Oaxaca Cultural Navigator excursions: it is more valuable to go deep than wide. It is essential to meet local people to learn about and understand life, culture, values, challenges and opportunities. A middleman interpreting social and political issues isn’t enough. To really be in a country, one must go to where people live and work, take meals with them, share who we are with each other. For me, a small group is defined as ten to fifteen travelers.
Yes, people want to see the world. Most want to see the world for less money, to go to as many countries as possible, to get the Passport stamped. Do do so, one must join the crowds. I heard from fellow travelers that they go on river cruises with 125 people, which they consider a small group. The mega-cruise ships that hold thousands docked in Dubrovnik and Venice, spit out day-trippers who overrun these once beautiful cultural sites. Perhaps they buy a double-scoop of gelato and then re-board the ship for the endless buffet. Imagine these cities now as shopping malls with all the international brands paying high rents, pushing out local artisans and residents — a topic we never discussed.
Still rough around the edges, coming out of Communism with heart and hopefulness, Albania and Montenegro are undiscovered jewels and most promising. Worth a trip back to explore the Ionian coast that borders Greece, worth a trip back for the delicious dark and crusty bread and seafood, worth a trip back to go deeper. We shall see.
Tuesday, September 1 – Wednesday, September 9, 2020 – 8
nights, 9 days
New Mexico was originally part of the Spanish land grant known as New Spain. It calls to me in a way that reminds me of Oaxaca: Vast vistas of mountains and desert punctuated by red and purple skies, stately organ-pipe cactus and gnarly mesquite, Rio Grande River oases lined with scrub oak, and unparalleled art and craft made by indigenous peoples.
Colonized by the Spanish in 1598 and referred to as New Mexico by them after the Aztec Valley of Mexico, the territory was integrated into a new nation after 1821 Independence from Spain. Mexico was forced to cede its northern territories to the US in 1848 in a period of political vulnerability. Deeply rooted locals identify more with Spanish or indigenous ancestry.
Today, New Mexico has the largest percentage of Latino and Hispanic Americans in the USA. America’s First Peoples lived here for thousands of years before European occupation. Anglos, the trappers, merchants and adventurers, arrived much later. This sequence of settlement is important for showing respect and appreciation.
Sheri Brautigam, textile author and operator of Living Textiles of Mexico, and I join together again to bring you this program that starts in Santa Fe, the state capitol and heart of Colonial New Mexico. Sheri lives in Santa Fe and I visit periodically. Our love of place is defined by the majestic natural world, exquisite art, textiles, jewelry and pottery created by Native American people, and a deep appreciation for cultural history.
On many levels, it seems only natural to add New Mexico to our travel repertoire. Here political borders give way to the shared cultural and aesthetic history of Mexico and the American Southwest.
We take you to Native American pueblos to meet favorite weavers and jewelry makers, and to galleries and public spaces where world-class examples are displayed. We introduce you to collectors and purveyors of folk art and craft who will talk about quality, authenticity, craftsmanship and style. We go deep rather than wide to offer insight and perspective.
Any exploration of New Mexico must include a look into the life of artist Georgia O’Keeffe. Our study tour takes you to her summer residence at Ghost Ranch where we spend the night and enjoy a morning walking tour of her favorite painting sites. We visit her Abiquiu winter home where her minimalist style shaped future generations.
Colonial Spanish and Mexican history, architecture and cultural influences
Sumptuous food spiked with rare New Mexico red Chimayo chile and green Hatch chile — try the Hatch flavored pozole or a green chile cheeseburger or buy a ristra to take home
Mezcal infused beverages that transcend Oaxaca origins
Here is the Preliminary Itinerary: Arrive September 1 and depart September 9, including Labor Day Weekend.
Tues, 9//1: Arrive and check in to hotel, welcome cocktail reception
Wed. 9/2: Breakfast with art and cultural history talk,
walking tour of Santa Fe galleries, the Governor’s Palace Portal and historic
sites, welcome lunch. Presentations by noted experts and collectors. Dinner
OYO. (B, L)
Thurs. 9/3: After breakfast, depart for Rio Grande River Kewa/Santo Domingo pueblo to meet Native American craftspeople where we will have private demonstrations of stone inlay and metal smithing, and a home-style lunch. We visit award-winners who exhibit at prestigious galleries and participate in the International Folk Art Market. (B, L) Dinner OYO
Friday. 9/4: After breakfast, we will take a private La Fonda Hotel art history tour, with lunch at the historic Fred Harvey restaurant, followed by a visit to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum (B, L) Dinner OYO
Sat, 9/5: After breakfast, we will return to the Kewa pueblo to attend the big Labor Day Weekend Artisan Fair, an all Native American traditional arts and craft event that includes artisans from throughout New Mexico. (B) Lunch and dinner OYO.
Sun. 9/6: After breakfast, depart for Ghost Ranch with a stop in Sanctuario de Chimayo a famous shrine of miracles and Hispanic faith. We will visit the Rio Grande style weavers of the Chimayo region and have lunch at Rancho de Chimayo, overnight at Ghost Ranch (B, L)
Mon. 9/7: After breakfast, morning Art Walk at Ghost Ranch to see the locales where Georgia O’Keeffe painted. After lunch at the Inn at Abiquiu, we will tour O’Keeffe’s winter home in Abiquiu, then return to Santa Fe. (B, L) Dinner OYO.
Tues., 9/8: Breakfast and day on your own. Grand finale
dinner. (D) Breakfast and lunch OYO.
8 nights lodging at a top-rated Santa Fe historic center property within walking distance to the Plaza
1 cocktail reception
a curated itinerary with introductions to some of the region’s finest artisans
museum and other entry fees, as specified in itinerary
private demonstrations, presentations and lectures
private coach and chauffeur to/from pueblos and O’Keeffe sites
outstanding and personal guide services with Norma Schafer and Sheri Brautigam
The program does NOT include airfare, taxes, tips, travel insurance, liquor or alcoholic beverages, some meals, and optional local transportation that is not specified in the itinerary.
You can fly in/out of either Albuquerque (ABQ) or Santa Fe (SAF), New Mexico. Check Skyscanner.com for best schedules and fares.
We reserve the right to substitute
instructors and alter the program as needed.
Cost • $3,845 double room with private bath (sleeps 2) • $4,435 single room with private bath (sleeps 1)
Important Note:All rooms at Ghost Ranch for one night on Sunday, September 6, are shared accommodations.
and Cancellations. A $750 non-refundable deposit is required
to guarantee your spot. The balance is due in three equal payments – on January
22, April 22, July 22, 2020. We
accept payment using online e-commerce only. If for any reason, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC cancels the
tour, a full-refund will be made.
We will send you an itemized invoice
when you tell us you are ready to register. If you cancel on or before July 22,
2020, we will refund 50% of your deposit received to date. After July 22, 2020,
there are no refunds.
If you register after January 22, you will owe $750 plus 1/3 of the balance due. If you register after April 22, you will owe $750 plus 2/3 of the balance due. If you register after July 22, you will owe 100% (if there are openings).
to Register: Send an email to email@example.com
Tell us if you want a shared/double room or a private/single room. We will send you an e-commerce invoice for $750 by email that is due on receipt.
Who Should Attend: Artists, makers, educators, life-long learners, writers, photographers, jewelry and textile lovers, historians and those wanting to learn more about Native American art, culture and history. If you love off-the-beaten path adventure, the great outdoors, and the inspiration of the great Southwest as seen by Georgia O’Keeffe, this trip is for you.
Required–Travel Health/Accident Insurance: We require that you carry international accident/health insurance that includes $50,000+ of emergency medical evacuation insurance. Proof of insurance must be sent at least 45 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 45 days before departure. Unforeseen circumstances happen!
Reservations and Cancellations. We accept online e-commerce payments only. We will send you an itemized invoice when you tell us you are ready to register. All documentation for plane reservations, required travel insurance, and personal health issues must be received 45 days before the program start or we reserve the right to cancel your registration without reimbursement.
Terrain, Walking and Group Courtesy: We may walk a lot on some days. — up to 10,000 steps. We recommend you bring a walking stick if you need something to lean on!
If you have mobility issues or
health/breathing impediments, please consider that this may not be the study
tour for you.
Traveling with a small group has its
advantages and also means that independent travelers will need to make
accommodations to group needs and schedule. We include plenty of free time to
go off on your own if you wish.
Under the Palace of the Governors portal sit Native American artisans, displaying their craft. They may sit on small camp stools or cross-legged on a blanket waiting for us. Their hang tags tell their name, their pueblo, and authenticate what they sell. This is a juried system.
The portal at the Palace of the Governors calls to me because it is a place of discovery. I have spoken with gallery owners in Taos and Santa Fe who tell me they found artisans they represent here along this arcade. A keen eye can differentiate quality
Who is able to sell each day is based on a lottery. Just as I visit artisan studios throughout Mexico to understand the craftsmanship and to create connection, when I find someone who makes something extraordinary, I want to know more. To see how something is made is to understand the calculus of time and materials, passion, art and history. This is how we put value on something handmade.
It’s more than that. To see how people live and work, to meet their families, to understand their culture and origins, hear who they learned from and appreciate the traditions of creativity, gives added meaning to the experience. It becomes more than shopping. It is the next level to an ancient practice of sharing, bartering, collaboration and respect.
We got to the Plaza early that day, before 9:30 a.m. Leslie spotted Warren Nieto first, noticed his fine heishi beadwork and mosaic inlay. His thunderbird design earrings were perfectly executed. There were three pair, one for her, one for Kaola and one for me. We struck a bargain for the three and paid cash. I asked if we could visit his studio to see how he constructed his pieces and get a demonstration. We set a day and time.
Eugene Sanchez was also at the Palace portal that day. I didn’t recognize him but I recognized the fine, tiny pieces of gemstone inlay work I bought from his wife Georgia two years ago. I asked him if we could visit, too.
Eugene’s story is not unique. He’s a military veteran. He worked construction in northern California, had a back injury and returned to his family roots to revive their Native American jewelry making. He learned from his grandmother and father. The work is extraordinary.
I had traveled the Rio Grande River Valley pueblos in the 1970’s, but had never visited the Kewa (Santo Domingo) village. I was more interested in pottery then. This would be an adventure. We drove south on I-25 for about 40 minutes and then turned off to head west. In the distance, beyond the vast sand-colored desert was a ribbon of green cottonwood where the river flowed fast. Summer rains and winter snow melts ensure an abundance of water.
Warren Nieto lives with his family in a new modular home behind a vacant trading post, a vestige of the old west and tourism dream that didn’t materialize. He worked carpentry and framing before he returned to the craft he earned from his family. He’s 32 years old.
We were told to respect what your grandparents taught you, he says. Growing up, I learned to make heishi beads and tend the corn fields. We were taught that jewelry making was something to come back to. I do it to create something that others appreciate and value.
Warren speaks Keres to his son, who hovers nearby. This is an ancient language, he explains, and he’s not worried about losing it. The Kewa people adhere to tradition. He says its linguistic roots are Aztec (Nahuatl). I tell him common belief is that the Aztecs came from the north into what is now Mexico in search of a fertile land where the eagle would perch on a cactus, overcome the serpent and lead them to water. Is it likely they originated from this part of New Mexico?
I am organizing a 2020 folk art study tour into the tribal areas of New Mexico with Sheri Brautigam, who lives in Santa Fe. We will visit a curated group of jewelers, weavers and potters, and attend a Native American festival. If you are interested in joining us, please send me an email so I can add you to the announcement list: email firstname.lastname@example.org
The tombs of Monte Alban, the ancient Zapotec civilization perched atop a mountain in Oaxaca, Mexico, revealed, when excavated, unparalleled Mesoamerican gold metal smithing, stone and beadwork. For many of us who live in Oaxaca or visit there, we become attached to filigree work in traditional designs brought to Mexico via the Moors who taught the Spanish this intricate technique.
I’m offering Oaxaca and New Mexico jewelry for sale from my collection. If you are interested, please indicate by number and send me an email email@example.com with your mailing address. I will add $10 USD to mail within US and $28 USD to mail to Canada to invoice.
Throughout the Americas adornment was and continues to be a symbol of tribal identity and pride. Distinct styles developed which continue today, made by makers who live along the Rio Grande River Valley of New Mexico, and Navajo and Hopi groups who inhabit the mesas and desert of western New Mexico and northern Arizona.
Silversmithing techniques migrated from Mexico to the Southwest, where these techniques were taught to Native Americans. Horsemen need spurs, bridles, belt buckles and bolo ties. Women need earrings, necklaces and rings.
Necklaces and pendants were fashioned from hand-drilled, cut and polished stones, shells, animal teeth, fossilized plant materials, and wood.
To visit Santa Fe is to go back into this history for me. It is a personal history, too. One of migration along the Santa Fe Trail, traveling Old Route 66, and our own family’s trek from the Midwest to California in the early 1950’s.
Every day, Native American jewelry makers and artisans sit under the Palace of the Governors portal on the Santa Fe Plaza. Every day, based on lottery, a lucky few can spread their blankets and display their work. This is like attending a juried show. Each vendor is licensed and must adhere to strict quality guidelines to sell here. I’m drawn to this place for many reasons.
I’m going back to the memory of our stop in Albuquerque after two days of travel on the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Super Chief in September 1953, on our way to resettle in Los Angeles. I was young, my sister a toddler, our mom cautious. There were Indians sitting cross-legged on blankets as we stepped onto the platform. Laid out before them was silver and turquoise jewelry, blankets, ceramics, trinkets. Were they wearing buckskin and feathered headdresses? I can only imagine. It was the time of Wild West romanticism, Cowboys and Indians, Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and Hopalong Cassidy.
I was curious. Our mom shooed us into the dining room and then back to the train. It’s likely we passed by Fred Harvey bracelets, real Navajo blankets, tooled leather belts, Hopi pottery, Zuni petit point, squash blossom necklaces: Native American jewelry we dream about today.
As mom and daughters traveled west by train, our dad drove the Plymouth station wagon along Route 66, pulling a small tarp-covered trailer through the desert, a water bottle hanging from the front grill. The manual shifter was on the steering column. Only he could drive it. He later became a huge admirer of Maria Martinez, the famed black pottery maker from San Ildefonso Pueblo, attempting her iconic style.
I’m taking you back to Santa Fe Plaza and the Palace of the Governors. Here is an opportunity to meet artisans, talk with and buy directly from them. Many come from miles away. Navajo silversmiths will travel from Gallup, NM. They might do other things, like teach school or repair cars or serve as tribal administrators. Sometimes, a family member like a mother, father or brother, might sell in their stead.
If you are adventuresome, like me, you might strike up a conversation and ask to visit a home and workshop. Many live within a two-hour radius. That’s how I got to the Santo Domingo Pueblo to see where Warren Nieto lives and creates.
I’m considering organizing a September 2020 folk art study tour of northern New Mexico, based in Santa Fe or environs. This could include visits to Native American jewelry makers, weavers and potteries. We will also include a Native American Feast Day. This feels like a good fit with my love of indigenous arts and my desire to directly support native artisans, as we learn about life, culture, craft and continuity. If you are interest in knowing more as I develop this program with Sheri Brautigam, please send me a note to add you to the list of interested people. firstname.lastname@example.org
Why We Left, Expat Anthology: Norma’s Personal Essay
Norma contributes personal essay, How Oaxaca Became Home
Norma Contributes Two Chapters!
Click image to order yours!
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
We send printable map via email PDF usually within 48-hours after order received. Where to see natural dyed rugs in Teotitlan del Valle and layout of the Sunday Tlacolula Market, with favorite eating, shopping, ATMs. Click Here to Buy Map
Dye Master Dolores Santiago Arrellanas with son Omar Chavez Santiago, weaver and dyer, Fey y Lola Rugs, Teotitlan del Valle