Tag Archives: textiles

Weaving in San Pablo Villa de Mitla, Oaxaca

The Tlacolula Valley is filled with villages filled with treasures, people, archeology and, of course, mezcal. The last village at the valley terminus of the Carretera Nacional MEX 190 is San Pablo Villa de Mitla. It’s only about 20 minutes down the road from where I live in Teotitlan del Valle.

Mitla, a Pueblo Magico, welcomes us with colorful umbrellas.

I go there a lot. Mostly to visit Arturo Hernandez and his weaving studio Bia Be Guug, a Zapotec word I don’t know the translation for. Last week, I went with my friend Carina. Recently, Arturo’s son Martin returned from full-time accounting work in Mexico City to join the workshop. He is innovating textiles using natural dyes with an ikat technique.

There is also a hidden-away antique dealer who I drop in on (well, not actually, I always call in advance to make sure he is home) to see what vintage pieces have come in from far-flung mountainous pueblos.

Martin shows me his pericone (wild marigold) wool yarn with indigo overdye.

We can take you here on our One-Day Tlacolula Valley Folk Art Study Tour.

Portrait of Martin Hernandez

I’m enthralled with Martin’s new weaving, and this blog post features his latest work. The studio makes home goods, table linens and cloths, throws and bedspreads in cotton, wool and in combination.

Enjoy!

Bobbins and shuttle on the pedal loom, San Pablo Villa de Mitla

Virgin of Guadalupe Textiles Show in Mexico City

Created and curated by Oaxaca folk art collector Linda Hanna, this is a not-to-be-missed exhibition of hand-woven and embroidered textiles — an Homage to the Virgin of Guadalupe and who she is. The textiles — huipiles, rebozos, and other unique pieces — feature the image of our revered Mexican Mother, La Virgen de Guadalupe.

This is a testimony to the artistry and skill of Mexican artisans.

This is the first time the textiles will be exhibited in Mexico City. If you are visiting or live nearby, please see the exhibition at the Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares in Coyoacan (near Casa Azul). The exhibition opens December 4, 2019, and is spectacular and memorable.

To the Villages with Shuko–Backroads Oaxaca

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.

Shopping with Shuko, our Oaxaca backroads adventure into craft villages

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.

The women who make clay mural
Each handmade, hand-formed, imperfect, burnished, beautiful

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.

Shuko with cochineal dyed cotton warp and ikat wool throw/shawl
Arnulfo, Jr. finishes his first rug. So proud. Vendido. Sold!

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.

Perfect naturally-dyed beeswax candles suspend from rebar rods
Beeswax candlemaker Viviana Alavez, Grand Master of Oaxaca folk art

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.

Spaces Open: Oaxaca Discovery Tour–Textiles and Folk Art 2020

Elaborate, handmade beeswax flowers decorate church candlesticks, made here
Shuko with Viviana, a joyful moment

As always, thank you for reading and following. Can we take you on the backroads? On the Ocotlan Highway? Through the Tlacolula Valley? On a Textile Study Tour adventure?

A collection of dolls on Epifanio’s altar in Mitla
Rare, 17th century Quiatoni necklace with blown glass, coral. Anyone want it?
I’ll buy it for you. $1,200 USD includes mailing.
Shuko with Macrina and family in San Marcos
Ernestina shows us rugs she just finished weaving
Perched on a dead tree branch, Virgin of Guadalupe vintage icon

The Passing of Walter “Chip” Morris, Chiapas Textile Icon

Chip Morris was one of those iconic figures who is largely responsible for the development of textile education in Chiapas, Mexico. He is known for preserving and promoting Maya highland weaving. He was there for a lifetime, co-creating the famed weaving cooperative Sna Jolobil and establishing San Cristobal de las Casas as a textile lover’s travel destination.

I got news of his passing yesterday from my pal Sheri Brautigam while I was in transit from my Durham home to Mexico City.

Walter “Chip” Morris, 1953-2019, RIP

From Kiki Suarez, founder of Kikimundo, famed folk art gallery in the San Cristobal de las Casas historic center:

When I arrived in San Cristobal in 1977, the Maya fabric here was already in decline, and neither I nor any tourists knew much about quality and we bought mediocre embroidery; we did not know about the quality of what was possible. The weavers themselves followed the tradition but many did not know the meaning of their patterns. A young gringo Hippie arrived, settled in San Andres Larrainzar, learned Tzotzil (and probably spoke it better than Spanish), and rescued the meanings in the ancient textiles, which were already at the point of disintegrating.

This man was Walter F. Morris, who we called Chip. I learned a lot with him. Together with Luis Contreras and Pedro Meza, he formed the Sna Jolobil cooperative in the city, still known today as the sourced for the highest quality Maya fabric. He took the Maya textiles to the great museums. He wrote his book, Living Maya, with Carol Karasik, that included the extraordinary photographs taken by Jeffrey J. Foxx, and then translated into Spanish.

Then, other books followed, always with the faithful and capable Carol: about how the Maya fabric here in many remote communities in the Maya highlands continues to develop instead of disappearing, how Maya women and men are preserving their dress instead of giving over to western styles — a rare phenomenon in the world.

The tours and talks by Chip that I attended were wonderful. I remember the first years here when I saw women walking from village to village, carrying their textiles on their heads. I remember how Chip was looking for, discovering, teaching the weavers themselves the meaning of their patterns, rescuing old huipil designs. I remember an old huipil from Chamula that had designs that were taken from the murals at Bonampak. Chip helped them appreciate the value of their own art that they often sold for nothing or almost nothing.

Then, he joined the fabulous Pellizzi Collection for a small salary. The Maya textile was his life and his passion and his destiny and vocation, and perhaps everything else in life could not compete with this. If today there are so many cooperatives and young people who play with new designs of the traditional Maya textile, I think this is why Chip Morris started — to leave this legacy. Unfortunately, for many years, for personal reasons, he began to withdraw from social spaces, and today many who work in the same field do not even know about him.

That’s why I write this: Let them know! This is the heritage he leaves in San Cristobal, and with many weavers and people in many communities.

Chip transcends his personal struggles for his great effort and work to rescue and recognize the Maya fabric, another textile artist, Olga Reiche, from Guatemala, wrote to me today. And, so it is …

I did not know Chip personally. I met him a couple of times in Tenejapa during my tours with Patrick Murphy, when he was guiding tourists to the cooperative operated by Maria Meza across from the zocalo. I knew that he was ailing. Most of us did. As Kiki says, we honor the contribution he made to Maya textile knowledge. We go to Chiapas because of what he accomplished. Descansé bien.

We recommend Chip’s book, Maya Threads: A Woven History published by Thrum’s Books, for our Chiapas textile study tour participants. I hope you have a chance to read it.

I’m taking a wait list for the February 25-March 4, 2020 Chiapas Textile Study Tour. Let me know if you want to go.

Announcing Mano del Sur by Shuko Clouse — Curated Goods

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.

Beach mat textile on Mano del Sur

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.

Huipil woodblock print on Mano del Sur

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

Contact me for more information at norma.schafer@icloud.com

Mercado brown bag on Mano del Sur