Shuko Clouse is here. She opened Mano del Sur recently, a beautiful online shop that combines her Japanese aesthetic — simplicity and quality — with Mexican handcraft excellence. Shuko came to Oaxaca to restock the shop.
She takes her time. She curates each item. She meets the makers and engages with them. She holds an article in her hands and savors its creation. She kneels down to touch a wool rug whose life is created on the loom. She traces the pattern with her fingertips, asking about ancient design origin.
It is a marvel to go shopping with Shuko. She chooses carefully. Selects one or two items that are the same. She is not a volume shopper. I learn from her. Take your time. Each moment with a handmade article is a blessing for the maker and eventually, the buyer.
Don’t rush. When I was in Japan, I saw that a large room with one extraordinary vase containing one exquisite flower was enough. This is antithetical to my own collecting sensibilities. It is a struggle to keep my living environment spare, and I confess I am unsuccessful. But I aspire to this — one object, beautifully crafted, as focal point.
Meanwhile, Shuko and I travel the villages; to San Marcos Tlapazola to visit the women makers of red clay pottery; to Mitla to see the weaver of natural dyed wool and cotton; deep into a Mitla neighborhood to visit the antique dealer whose eclectic collection tempts all; to old adobe houses of Teotitlan del Valle where humble weavers work magic.
This one-day customized study tour takes you beyond Oaxaca City and into the villages along the highway to Ocotlan de Morelos, the home of famed Mexican painter and muralist Rodolfo Morales (1925-2001). We schedule this excursion based on your travel plans and our availability.
You can choose to visit four (4) of the following options from this menu of mixed media experiences:
Black pottery making in San Bartolo Coyotepec
A back-strap loom weaving workshop in Santo Tomas Jalieza
A fine copal wood carver and painter (alebrijes) in San Martin Tilcajete
A family of clay sculptors in San Antonino Castillo Velasco
A group of embroiderers in San Antonino Castillo Velasco
A visit to the Morelos murals, museum and market meander in the Ocotlan municipal center
We don’t go on Fridays, the frenzied day of the Ocotlan Market, when there is a crush of people and visitors and it’s too difficult to savor the experience.
What is included?
Transportation to/from Oaxaca City Historic Center
Lunch at a well-known restaurant or comedor
Expert explanations of art and craft
Curated visits to meet some of the best artisans we know
$300 per day for one or two people. $135 per person additional.
Schedule your dates directly with Norma Schafer. You reserve for the dates you prefer. Please send us a couple of options. You are welcome to organize your own small group. We match your travel schedule with our availability.
This is for a full day, starting at 9 a.m. when we pick you up and ending at about 6 p.m. when we return you to your Oaxaca lodging. Please provide us with hotel/lodging address and phone number.
Reservations and Cancellations
We require a non-refundable 50% deposit via an e-commerce payment service. We will send you an invoice when you tell us you are ready to register and we confirm dates. The 50% balance is due on the day of the tour in cash, either USD or MXN pesos (at the current exchange rate). When we receive funds, we will send you confirmation and details. Be sure to send us the name and address for where you are staying.
Shuko Clouse just opened her online shop Mano del Sur. She is a friend and I want to help give her a boost.
Shuko is from Japan. She loves Mexico and particularly Oaxaca. She combines her aesthetic for quality and simplicity with all unique, one-of-a-kind pieces she finds along the way during her travels south-of-the-border.
Shuko is dedicated to learning Spanish. She recently came to Oaxaca for a language immersion program. In her generous, kind and insightful multicultural approach, she communicates directly with artisans to identify and buy the best home goods and fashion accessories to pass along to discerning buyers via her new website.
Our textile study tours offer people like Shuko a guided opportunity to seek out some of the most outstanding artisans in a region. Shuko came with us to Chiapas and she is now returning for the Oaxaca Coast Textile Study Tour. She comes to Oaxaca city, too, where I take her to villages to meet some of the best artisans to buy their craft.
I am happy to work with Shuko, designers and retailers to introduce them to artisans. The makers appreciate being able to sell direct with no middleman and the buyers know they support artisans directly and pay a fair price for their quality workmanship.
We are filled for the Oaxaca Coast Tour, but we have space for
Who wants to join me for lunch in San Marcos Tlapazola tomorrow, Saturday, July 14? I’ll be there by 11 a.m. in time to see Lila Downs, the madrina (patron) of the celebration, cut the ribbon for the official opening.
This is the third year of the festival and each year it grows bigger. In addition to selling the specialty ceramics of the village — the beautiful red clay dinnerware and accessories — you can dance, eat, take photos, drink atole and mezcal, buy aprons, and just overall enjoy the festivities.
My own Teotitlan del Valle kitchen has a shelf of red clay dinnerware made by Macrina Mateo Martinez, one of the more famous artisans.
San Marcos is located in the hills about 20 minutes above Tlacolula. You could combine this with a visit to the Sunday market, too.
I took the photos below in 2015, the year I separated from my wasband, still deciding how I would spell my new last name which is a derivative of my mother’s maiden name (in case you were wondering why the names don’t match!).
Red clay pottery, San Marcos Tlapazola, photo by Norma Schafer
Fueling the kiln at San Marcos, photo by Norma Schafer
Portrait of a potter, San Marcos Tlapazola, photo by Norma Schafer
Mujeres del Barro Rojo, San Marcos Tlapazola, photo by Norma Schafer
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