Tag Archives: Mexico

Artful Aprons of San Miguel del Valle Talk at OLL, January 25

The artful aprons of San Miguel del Valle are an elaborate confetti of embroidered designs. I was invited to give a talk at the Oaxaca Lending Library (OLL) on January 25, 2019 at 5 p.m. Please come! You can read more and register HERE.

Of course, you have to BE in Oaxaca, to join us!

Joining me for the talk are Jacki Cooper Gordon, who is an Envia cultural guide and Mickey Gardner, who lived in the village ecotourism cabins for a month, working with local women.

Hard to decide which one!
  • Textiles as cultural identity, and aprons in particular
  • Aprons as contemporary dress — innovation, adaptation
  • History of San Miguel del Valle and apron-making
  • Economics, production, quality
  • Cultural appropriation or cultural admiration
  • Life in a small Zapotec hill town
  • Where it is and how to get there

I got to San Miguel del Valle because I took an ENVIA tour with Jacki. She knows a lot about the history and economic development opportunities. We will talk about:

Laura and Mary in the workshop

Special Feature: We have invited embroiderers Maria Zacarias Hernandez Hernandez and her cousin Laura Miguel Hernandez to answer questions and to sell their stunning aprons. Maria is a recipient of Envia microfinancing.

Free-form, hand-guided machine embroidery

PLEASE BRING YOUR PESOS. Aprons range in price from 500-1,000 pesos, depending on complexity of design and density of embroidery. There will be about 20 pieces for sale at the OLL on the night of the talk, including bags and napkins. Sales go directly to the makers.

Traje includes two undergarments, one lacy, plus apron
Abuelas prefer a simpler style

Winter in Oaxaca, Dog & House Sitting Opportunity

It’s going to be 81 degrees Fahrenheit today in Oaxaca with a low of 55. I have no complaints now after returning here four days ago from very chilly North Carolina, which is not as cold as where many of you live! My bones are warm. Am I trying to tempt you? Yes.

I am seeking a reliable, clean and tidy, culturally sensitive, respectful and mature (this has nothing to do with age) person to stay in my Teotitlan del Valle casita and feed my three adopted dogs two-times daily, morning and night. This opportunity is for ONE person. If I know you, all the better!

Contact me for more information.

I have a Tip Sheet to share with those who are interested. If I don’t know you, then I ask for three references.

Set 1 Dates: Arrive January 30, depart February 14

Set 2 Dates: Arrive February 26, depart March 7

During this time, I am away in Michoacan and Chiapas leading textile and folk art study tours. The dogs must be fed!

Teotitlan del Valle is an indigenous Zapotec village about 40 minutes outside of Oaxaca city in the Tlacolula valley. It is home to 6,000 people, most of whom are tapestry rug weavers. This is a great opportunity to explore Mexico’s amazing weaving culture and live with people who have inhabited this region for 8,000 years. The city is accessible by private taxi, colectivo and buses.

I live on the land of my host family who are weavers. They work exclusively with natural dyes. I do not own the land I live on — they do. I built the casita I live in. And, because this is a Usos y Costumbres village, my casita is legally owned by my family. Being understanding and respectful of this environment is a key ingredient to being here. Relationship and communication are everything.

I am also seeking a dog/house sitter for March 13 to April 13 and April 28 to May 15, 2019

Casita rooftop terrace

Reasons to Come:

  1. Warm your bones!
  2. Giving care to loving animals: Dog-lovers know why!
  3. Practice your Spanish
  4. Explore weaving and natural dyeing
  5. Immerse yourself in local Zapotec culture
  6. Find peace and solace in amazing, pristine, high desert beauty
  7. Write, hike, meditate, retreat
  8. Cost-effective opportunity

This opportunity is for ONE person.

The casita where I live in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca

Itzel Guadalupe Weaves Her First Rug

Itzel Guadalupe is my sobrina and I am her tia. We have adopted each other. In truth, this fourteen-year old is the daughter of my friend Ernestina who lives down the lane from me. Her name Itzel translates as Star throughout Mesoamerica. Her namesake is the Virgin of Guadalupe, and she goes by Lupita.  There must be millions of women named Guadalupe in Mexico, but this one is very special!

Lupita just finished weaving her first complete rug. Because I am her madrina, Ernestina came to me first to ask me to buy it. This is what happens here and I was happy to say yes as a way to encourage her to develop her artistry, craft and skill. I’d say she did a very good job for the first one. 

SOLD and going to Canada!

My friend Scott, a California expert in tapestry loomed rugs here in Teotitlan del Valle, and one of the original exporters of Southwest Style, said that the weaving is very good and the color palette very pleasing. It is natural color Churro sheep wool with synthetic dyes. 

I took Lupita with me on Sunday for the opening of the Virgin of Guadalupe textile exhibition at the Museo Estatal del Arte Popular in San Bartolo Coyotepec to expand her perspective. It was her first visit to this village.

The show featured finest woven tapestries from Teotitlan del Valle.  In the main floor galleries was an exhibition sponsored by FOFA (Friends of Oaxaca Folk Art) featuring the work of talented young artisans ages 10 to 30 in all media.

Children start playing with yarn here very early. By the age of six or eight, their parents have turned a chair upside down and a child starts weaving warp and weft using the four legs. By the time they are pre-teens, many of them can weave a small rug.  They learn more complex techniques with practice, perseverence and dedication. Weaving on a floor loom where one stands for hours requires stamina. 

At the exhibition, Lupita and I paid special attention to the weaving work done by the young people of her village. We talked about their designs and I asked her if she knew any of them. She does. My hope in taking her was to give her confidence that she could aspire to reach for more.  

I’ve known this young woman since she was two years old. I’ve watched her curiosity and intelligence develop. Perhaps she will go to college and/or become a very accomplished weaver or teacher. She told me her New Years resolution for 2019 was to go to the USA and to make more rugs to sell.

Would you like to buy Itzel Guadalupe’s first rug? $200 plus $15 mailing. I’m bringing it to the USA tomorrow in my luggage. I’ll be in North Carolina for a medical procedure and then return to Oaxaca on Christmas Eve. 

Rare Find: 18th C. San Pedro Quiatoni Necklace, Coral and Blown Glass Rod Pendants

This necklace is SOLD.

It could be that this San Pedro Quiatoni necklace is from as early as the 17th century, or maybe even the 16th century. When Hernan Cortes, the Spanish Conquistador, came to Mexico and other parts of the Americas in 1521, he brought with him Venetian glass trade beads to use for barter. 

For some reason, there is only one village that adopted this particular style of beading using these trade beads — San Pedro Quiatoni, which is high up in the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains almost three hours from Oaxaca city. 

These necklaces are rare, prized and very collectible.

I came across one last week in my wanderings around the Tlacolula valley with my friend Gretchen who was visiting from Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, located on the Sea of Cortes within an hour’s drive from the Mexico-USA border. I was showing her some of my favorite haunts. It just so happened that someone had just brought this necklace down from the mountains.  

Since I already have two in my collection that I do wear, I decided to send this necklace on into the world for someone else to enjoy. Perhaps that someone is YOU!

22 inches long, coral and blown glass necklace, San Pedro Quiatoni, Oaxaca

16 vintage, mouth-blown glass pendants suspend from this double-strand coral and Venetian trade bead necklace likely from the 17th or 18th century, found only in the Oaxaca mountain village of San Pedro Quiatoni, located about 2 hours from Oaxaca city. Hernan Cortes brought trade beads and European glass rods to the new world in 1521 with the conquest. The people in this village coveted the beads and strung them with Mediterranean coral on hemp and agave rope to hang around their necks. The more beads, the greater the symbol of wealth.

This particular necklace has blue and clear glass rods that are uniform and rare in color. I had the necklace professionally restrung (it was strung by the man who took it in trade) so it is now more secure with a sterling silver hook clasp. Traditionally, the necklaces were tied with blue ribbon (which has a tendency to come loose). This is a rare and collectible piece, perfect for wearing on that special occasion, too. The necklace is 22 inches long. Each rod measures approximately 2-3/4″ long, with some variation in each because they are hand-made. I just came across this spectacular beauty and want to pass this along to another collector since I already have two in my collection.

Here is the listing I have published on ETSY, priced at $695. If I sell it on Etsy, I will need to pay a fee. If you buy it HERE from me directly, the price is $595 USD plus $8 USPS priority mailing. Extra for insurance. Please purchase by Tuesday, December 11. I leave for the USA on December 12.

16 vintage, mouth-blown glass pendants suspend from this double-strand coral and Venetian trade bead necklace likely from the 17th or 18th century, found only in the Oaxaca mountain village of San Pedro Quiatoni, located about 2 hours from Oaxaca city. Hernan Cortes brought trade beads and European glass rods to the new world in 1521 with the conquest. The people in this village coveted the beads and strung them with Mediterranean coral on hemp and agave rope to hang around their necks. The more beads, the greater the symbol of wealth.

This particular necklace has blue and clear glass rods that are uniform and rare in color. I had the necklace professionally restrung (it was strung by the man who took it in trade) so it is now more secure with a sterling silver hook clasp. Traditionally, the necklaces were tied with blue ribbon (which has a tendency to come loose). This is a rare and collectible piece, perfect for wearing on that special occasion, too. The necklace is 22 inches long. Each rod measures approximately 2-3/4″ long, with some variation in each because they are hand-made. I just came across this spectacular beauty and want to pass this along to another collector since I already have two in my collection.

Exvotos Mexican Folk Art, Vintage + Silver Jewelry, Pillow Covers Sale

Mexico’s Ex-Votos are collectible naive folk art that tell a story of thanksgiving for being saved from near-death or disaster. Yes, it was a miracle to survive.  Usually, the person who escaped tragedy would hire a local artist to paint a tin square depicting the scene. The message of thanks may have included many misspellings, as the painters were not educated. They often include depictions of the saint to whom the supplicant is sending prayers of thanks.

Three of the exvotos are reproductions by famed Mexico City artist Rafael Rodriguez. One is a vintage piece dating from the 1950’s, acquired from a collector friend.

To Buy: Send me an email and tell me which piece(s) you want indicating the number of the item, your name and mailing address. I will send you a PayPal invoice and add-on $8 USD for USPS priority mail if you are in the lower 48 states.

Time sensitive. Purchases must be made by Monday, December 10, 2018. I fly away to North Carolina on December 12, and I’ll need time to package for taking with me.

#1. Vintage Exvoto, 1950s, $495

#1 is a whimsical, vintage exvoto, rare and in excellent condition for its age, is a perfect example of naive folk art, painted at Chapala, Jalisco in the 1950s, according to my collector friend in Mexico City (and she should know!). It says: Gracias a la virgencita y el niño por senar a mi hijo enfermo de Tifoidea a anto de morir. El sans infinitamente agracidas. (signed) Lupe Ma. Miraflores Lopez, Chapala, Jalisco.  (Thanks to the little virgin and her son for saving my son from typhoid before he died. He is infinitely thankful.) Measures 10-1/4″ x 8-1/2″

#2, Skeletons, $135

#2 is a reproduction by famed Mexico City exvoto artist Rafael Rodriguez, painted on tin. It measures 14-1/4″ x 10-1/4″ and says: Roperta Lara da las gracias con esta laminita pues unas calaveras nos atacaran a mi y mi vieja. Puebla, 9 de julio de 1940. Roperta Lara gives thanks with this plaque since the skeletons didn’t attack me and my old lady.

#3, The Temptress Snake Woman, $110

#3 is a reproduction by famed Mexico City exvoto artist Rafael Rodriguez. It measures 12″ x 9-3/4″ and says: Contava la gente que salia una serpiente mujer que se lleva va a los hombres a su gruta y alli se los come hasta con zapatos y zombrero.  Jalisco a 5 de Julio de 1938.  Saved from Contava the snake woman who comes out of her cave and captures men and eats them, except for their shoes and hat.

#4 Rufina Estrada is saved, $75

#4 is an exvoto reproduction by Mexico City artist Rafael Rodriguez. It measures 10″ x 7-1/2″ and says: Rufina Estrada dedica esta laminita porque me salve de la huesuda. San Luis, a 11 de enero 1939. Rufina Estrada dedicates this plaque because she was saved from death. San Luis, January 11, 1939.

#5 Vintage Patzcuaro, Michoacan, Silver & White Heart Necklace, $795

#5 is a rare necklace, attributed to Patzcuaro, Michoacan, according to famous Oaxaca jeweler Federico, from whom I bought this some years ago. The beads are vintage, rare and collectible Venetian glass trade beads called White Hearts, brought to the Americas by Cortes. There are 15 handmade silver Virgin of Soledad (?) pendants, each 1-1/2″ long by 7/8″ wide. Pendants have various designs. The necklace is 20″ long. An outstanding piece.

#5 detail, pendants have several unique designs

#6 is a vintage sterling silver beaded necklace, Taxco, $265

#6 is one of those unusual finds, 40 perfectly formed 15 mm beads made in the heyday of Taxco silversmithing, probably from the 1960’s. 23-1/2″ long. I bought these beads in Puebla. The chain broke and I had them restrung on very sturdy jewelers wire.

#6 detail of Taxco bead necklace

#8 new, Spratling sterling silver chain, $395

#8 detail, Spratling stamp

#8 is a new William Spratling sterling silver chain, made in the Spratling studios in Taxco, Guerrero, and is 22″ long. It is a contemporary piece cast from Spratling’s original molds by the Ulrich sisters, who own the famed franchise and whose father was Spratling’s business partner before Spratling died. 

#9 sterling and inlaid abalone shell fish pin, $95

#9 is a perfect specimen of Taxco silver and inlay mastery, from the 60’s or 70’s. 1-1/4″ wide by 1″ high. The abalone shell glimmers and the silver work is pristine. Fish pin, inlaid abalone on silver. Excellent. $95.

#9 Detail

Three Pillow Covers From Chiapas

These pillow covers are woven by the famed cooperative El Camino de Los Altos by women who use back strap looms. The designs are not embroidered, they are woven into the cloth. They each measure 17″ x 16-1/2″ and they are $35 each.

#10 Deep Gray, $35

#11, Gold, $25

#12, White, $35