Monthly Archives: August 2008

Easy Recipe–Michelada Knock-Off or What To Do With Dark Beer?

Eight of us were sitting around the table upstairs at La Olla Restaurant on Reforma in Oaxaca City, and Emma orders a Michelada.  It’s yummy, she says.  She just came down from Mexico City where this is the beverage of choice.  Someone asks, What is it? Someone else asks, What’s in it? Tomato juice and dark beer and loads of spices, she says.  Four of us, say, Let’s go for it!  And, she’s right, IT IS YUMMY.  I wrote to Pilar Cabrera, proprietor of La Olla to see if she would share the recipe for the concoction.  I haven’t heard back from her yet, so I went on line, hankering for a Michelada and wanting to make one myself.  I even ordered it last week at a brew pup near Chapel Hill and they thought I was crazy.  No go, they said.  We only do beer straight up.  So, I discovered several recipes online.  Here’s one I adapted based on what I had in my cupboard (minus the Maggi and the Worcestershire sauce).  Beats a Bloody Mary any day.

Norma’s Michelada Knock-Off:

Trader Jose (that’s Trader Joe, y’all) Dark Beer (a real steal, authentic Mexican brew, at $5.95 a 6-pack)

Juice of a key lime (or juice of 1/2 conventional lime)

Good shake of Hot Red Pepper Sauce (like Tabasco)

Good shake of Low Sodium Soy Sauce (I used this instead of Worcestershire, quite good)

6 oz. Tomato Juice (or Veggie Juice Cocktail)

Fill 12 oz. glass with 3-4 ice cubes. Shake in the red pepper sauce and soy sauce.  Add the fresh squeezed lime juice. Add the tomato juice.  Stir.  Top off with dark beer.  (You’ll use about 1/2 bottle for this recipe — keep makin’ ’em). 


Film Making Workshop: Visual Storytelling — February 19-26, 2010

Consider Oaxaca Digital Photography Expedition: Market Towns and Artisan Villages, June 29-July 5, 2011.  It’s not likely we will have a film making workshop in 2011.

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For seven days, from Friday evening, February 19, to Friday, morning, February 26, you will immerse yourself in the art and craft of documentary film making in the indigenous Zapotec village of Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico. There are 7,000 people and 2,000 looms in this famous rug weaving center situated 15 miles outside the colonial capital of Oaxaca City. This learning laboratory opens your eyes to new perspectives. A core aspect of this workshop is to encourage you to take the skills and insights you gain through this cross-cultural experience back home to document your own community, culture, or advocacy project with fresh vision.

Creating a documentary is much more than learning how to point, shoot and edit. Capturing the unique voices of your subjects is at the heart of the work. Topics may include the intimate rituals of daily life — making tortillas from scratch, preparing natural dyes, the voices of women, celebrations and life cycle events.

Newsflash: Artist Panteleon Ruiz, a renowned Zapotec painter who incorporates natural dyes in his oil pigments, will be one of the subjects for the film workshop!

You will work in small groups, guided by expert faculty who give you the creative freedom to produce a 3-5 minute short subject film. A celebratory final night viewing will showcase everyone’s work.

Here’s the REGISTRATION FORM: Go to the BLOGROLL for the link

Here are the three films produced at the last workshop:

Weaving a Curve (English subtitles)

Dance of the Feather: A Promise & Commitment

Woven Together: Entretejidos

You will:

  • Explore the creativity, challenges and ethics of telling a compelling story
  • Learn the steps of documentary film production from start to finish
  • Develop the technical skills for video and audio recording
  • Edit the raw footage into a rich narrative using Final Cut Pro
This is an excellent opportunity for those who want to get a first hand experience in documentary field work — all in a great travel destination.
Being able to tell a visual story via video is a powerful and valuable
skill for staff and volunteers working to raise funds, communicate an
issue, and increase visibility.  The stories we learn to capture on film
in Mexico from an arts and ethnographic perspective can be translated to
the interests we have and issues we face in our own communities at home
or other global sites.It is also a great way to develop a professional skill.  Professional development expenses can be tax deductible (travel and workshop tuition).
Ask your tax preparer/account.

After you register, faculty will contact you to discuss your interests and skill level. Then, we’ll send you a complete packet of materials, including a list of what to bring, like your own camera and tapes.  Pre-workshop readings will address: What style of documentary do I want to make? What issues do I need to be sensitive to when entering an unfamiliar culture? What about using my video camera, microphone and lighting? How do we maximize the collaborative process with teammates and crew? What are film production stages? Can I really learn to edit? How do I conduct an effective interview?


What Participants Say…

Erica encouraged me to challenge myself and go beyond what was easy and “routine” for me.  I am really happy with the final piece.  The experience was challenging and VERY rewarding.  A wonderful experience, a beautiful place. –Sarah Kennedy Davis, Kentucky, USA

The experience helped me understand the importance of teamwork. I loved the way Erica explained things. –Eric Chavez Santiago, Oaxaca, Mexico

The instructors were delightful and able to explain to the novice very sophisticated concepts in an understandable way.  I really appreciated Erica’s wise and warm approach to the subject.  The location is picturesque and the family very friendly; the food was wonderful.  Thank you. –Betty Hutchins, Toronto, Canada

Thank you for everything. I learned a lot–interviewing skills and how to use Final Cut Pro.  The multicultural residency enhanced my filmmaking goals because it expanded my experience beyond a controlled environment.  I loved it. –Scott Switzer, Oregon, USA

Thanks for inspiring teaching.  I have an appreciation for what it takes to make a film.  ths is a unique combination of a documentary course in a multicultural setting. — Eunice Hogeveen, Toronto, Canada

When you arrive in Teotitlan, you’ll meet the faculty and we’ll give you your documentary topic. We will pre-arrange your field contacts and provide bilingual translators to accompany you on interviews. You will then work with your partner and faculty to develop the technical and creative approach that best fits your personal and professional goals for the week.

What Is Included?

· Over 75 hours of expert instruction

· “On location” in a fascinating place

· A comprehensive notebook of materials

· Lodging for 7 nights

· 7 breakfasts, plus 5 lunches and dinners

· Bilingual interview translation services

· A DVD of all the films produced during the workshop

· The experience of a lifetime!

Accommodations are in a lovely village guesthouse with bougainville and pomegranate trees. The setting is traditional, yet comfortable.  The Zapotec proprietors are a daughter-in-law and mother-in-law team — gracious hosts and excellent cooks. As guests in their family compound, you will taste delicious traditional foods that Oaxaca is famous for and live with the family during your stay.  An intimate and rewarding experience!

Your Faculty Experts:  Erica Rothman and Jim Haverkamp

Erica Rothman, LCSW, is a documentary filmmaker who uses her psychotherapy background to understand and capture her subjects with sensitivity and depth, in an intimate and compelling way. As the principal of Nightlight Productions, she has written, produced and directed acclaimed projects, including full-length documentary films, that focus on local and global health care, public policy, the arts and humanities. She received a 2007 Gracie Award for American Women in Radio and Television, and key awards at the Houston International Film Festival. Rothman teaches in the Duke University Center for Documentary Studies.

“I love the collaboration between the people working on the film, the subjects and the content.  I’m excited about this 2010 workshop because Jim and I have worked together for over five years.  Documentary filmmaking is a powerful way to use storytelling to bring people to action.” – Erica Rothman

Jim Haverkamp is a filmmaker and freelance editor based in Durham, North Carolina.  His short fiction and documentary films have shown at over 50 festivals around the world, including Chicago Underground, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and the Maryland Film Festival. He has taught filmmaking at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University, and was awarded a filmmaking fellowship by the North Carolina Arts Council in 2000.  He teaches at the intensive documentary institute at Duke Center for Documentary Studies for six year. He hold the B.A. American Studies, University of Iowa.

Cost and Registration: $1795 per person, double occupancy, including food and lodging outlined above. A $500 deposit will hold your reservation. Workshop limited to 6 people.

Contact: Norma Hawthorne, (919) 274-6194 or to register.

Presented by: Norma Hawthorne, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator, and

How to Register  Workshop cost is $1795 per person, double occupancy. Single supplement is available at $300 per person.  Please print out and complete the registration form and mail it with your deposit. Registration form:

Deposit: A $500 deposit will reserve your space in the filmmaking workshop.

Final payment is due 30 days before the start day of the workshop. If the balance is not paid by this time, then we reserve the right to treat the reservation as cancelled. Any registrations made 30 days or less before the start of the workshop must be paid in full at that time. If cancellation is necessary, cancellation notice must by made in writing by email.  Deposits are refundable, as follows:

Deposits may be refunded:

*Up to 30 days before the workshop start date, less a $100 cancellation fee.

*After that, deposits are not refundable.

If cancellation is necessary, you may apply the deposit to a future workshop. We reserve the right to cancel or reschedule workshops, in which case you may choose a 100% refund or apply the tuition to a future workshop.

Personal checks are accepted. We also accept payment with PayPal. Contact us for details:

Documentation: U.S. citizens traveling to Mexico are required to carry a current passport, valid for at least 3 months after your re-entry to the U.S. It is your responsibility to carry proper documentation. If you are not a U.S. citizen, contact the Mexican embassy, consulate or a national airline of Mexico for entry requirements.

Trip insurance: PLEASE consider purchasing travel insurance. Unforeseen circumstances of getting to Teotitlan del Valle could cost you more than you expected. In the event of an emergency or natural disaster caused beyond our control, trip insurance will cover any unexpected expenses.

What is NOT included

Transportation to Mexico, Oaxaca and Teotitlan; gratuities and fees; local bus and taxi fees, trip insurance, medical expenses, hospitalization, any other fees; evening dinner in Oaxaca, liquor; optional side trips and excursions; extensions to your stay.

Schedule  Upon registration, we will send you an outline of the week’s activities.

Friday: Arrive in Oaxaca and take a taxi to your B&B in Teotitlan del Valle. We’ll provide you with directions and how to get from the airport to the village. We will meet together in the courtyard at 8:00 p.m. for a welcome reception. Saturday: Meet for breakfast at 8:30 a.m. Workshop starts at 9:00 a.m. and continues through the day into the evening.  Sunday-Friday: Each day is planned with different activities to enhance the learning process. The workshop day typically begins at 9 a.m. after breakfast and continues, with meal and snack breaks, through the evening. We will take one late afternoon and evening “off” to go into Oaxaca City for comida together and to explore the sights. Saturday morning: Breakfast, summary and evaluation. The workshop ends by 10:00 a.m.

Send your registration deposit with your name, address, telephone, cell phone and email address, and a brief statement about why you want to attend this workshop and your experience, to:

Norma Hawthorne, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC, 110 Blue Heron Farm Rd., Pittsboro, NC 27312

Questions? or (919) 274-6194

We also offer weaving and natural dyeing workshops in Teotitlan del Valle!




Weavers from Oaxaca exhibit in North Carolina

Pittsboro, NC – Textile artists, brother and sister Eric and Janet Chavez Santiago, from the village of Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico, will present weaving and natural dyeing lectures, demonstrations, exhibitions and workshops in Siler City and Pittsboro during a 3-week artists residency starting Oct. 1, 2008. Over nine programs are scheduled, made possible through the North Carolina Arts Incubator (NCAI), located in historic Siler City. NCAI received a generous Grassroots Grant from Chatham Arts, through the NC Arts Council, to mount the extensive program. Most events are free and open to the public. Eric Chavez Santiago is coordinator of educational services at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, the only museum in Mexico focused exclusively on textiles and their preservation. Janet is a university senior studying languages and linguistics. Both are fluent in English.

The pair will discuss Oaxaca and indigenous Zapotec art, culture, archeology and history, and demonstrate 500-year old tapestry weaving traditions of their village. A natural dyeing workshop will focus on the preparation of indigo, cochineal and moss to dye wool and cotton for weaving, knitting, and other fiber arts. As the first artists-in-residence at the NCAI, they will have open studio space in which to work and talk personally with people. Please call ahead to see if they are there!

A tuition-free, in-service training and education program for Chatham County teachers, provided by the grant, will offer creative arts techniques for teaching multicultural understanding. The Chatham Artists Guild is underwriting a public presentation to be held at Central Carolina Community College, Pittsboro Campus. Other activities will be held at Against His Will Studio, Siler City, and Chatham Arts Gallery in Pittsboro.

A raffle to raise funds not covered by the Grassroots Grant, including travel expenses for Janet Chavez Santiago, is being sponsored by NCAI. Janet has donated a fine tapestry hand-woven rug that is naturally dyed. The prominent colors are shades of red using cochineal, with accents of indigo and moss. The rug is valued at $400. Raffle tickets are $10 each and only 100 tickets will be sold.

Photo, upper right: Janet with her rug for raffle. Photo below is Janet demonstrating techniques for dyeing with indigo at a recent workshop in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca.

For program or raffle information, please contact Sue Szary, director, NC Arts Incubator, 919-663-1335, P.O. Box 643, Siler City, NC 27344, or

Schedule of Events and Activities

  • Wed., Oct. 1, 10:30 a.m., NCAI Gallery, Siler City, artists to hang rug exhibition
  • Thurs., Oct. 2, 6:30 p.m., Cloth Fiber Workshop, Asheville, natural dyeing workshop (not a Grassroots Grant activity)
  • Sun., Oct. 5, Noon-5 p.m., Chatham Arts Gallery Opening, First Sunday Pittsboro
  • Sun., Oct. 5, Noon-6 p.m., Festifall Exhibition and Sale, Franklin St., Chapel Hill
  • Tues., Oct. 7, 7 p.m., “Textile Treasures of Oaxaca,” Central Carolina Community College (CCCC) Pittsboro Campus Multi-purpose Room, sponsored by Chatham Artists Guild/Studio Tour and CCCC
  • Sat., Oct. 11, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tapestry Weaving and Natural Dyeing Workshop, Against His Will Gallery & Studio, Siler City. Workshop Fee: $95 per person, limited to 12 participants
  • Sat., Oct. 11, 7 p.m., Reception for Artists and Gallery Dedication, NCAI, Siler City
  • Wed., Oct. 15, 4-7 p.m. Chatham County Teachers In-Service Workshop, NCAI, Siler City
  • Fri., Oct. 17, 6-9 p.m., NCAI, 3rd Friday Artwalk, Siler City, 8:30 p.m. Drawing for Raffle of Janet Chavez Santiago Tapestry Rug
After leaving North Carolina on October 24, the Chavez weavers will travel to South Bend, Ind., where they are invited by the University of Notre Dame Snite Museum of Art to exhibit at the annual Day of the Dead Celebration. The pair will also lecture, demonstrate and exhibit at the South Bend Museum of Art before returning to Mexico on November 3.

For complete Chavez Santiago family biographical information, and to discover more about Oaxaca, please visit

The Chavez Santiago family programs are presented by a Chatham Arts Grassroots Grant through the NC Arts Council, North Carolina Arts Incubator, Against His Will Gallery & Studio, Norma Hawthorne Oaxaca Cultural Navigator, Chatham Artists Guild, and Central Carolina Community College, Pittsboro Campus, with special thanks to Hickory Mountain Weavers and Travis Cohn.

For media: To arrange for a feature story or to cover an event, please contact Norma Hawthorne, (919) 274-6194.

For organizations: If you would like to invite Eric and Janet to make a presentation to your group or guild, please contact Norma Hawthorne. Limited evening and daytime dates are available.

Au-then-tic: Real, Genuine, Original, Credible, Trustworthy

What defines authentic? Who is the arbiter of authenticity? Is there a higher standard that we hold some to and not others? What is an authentic Zapotec rug? Is it made only in Teotitlan del Valle? Can it be crafted in Santa Ana, Oaxaca, or can it be made in Santa Ana, California, by a Teotiteco who gets his wool from Teotitlan and weaves on a “traditional” loom? What about the weaving community of Diaz Ordaz – is it equally as authentic as Teotitlan? Must a textile be made with wool that has been prepared using traditional pre-Hispanic natural dyes or can it be made using chemical aniline dyes and still be considered authentic? If it is Zapotec hand-made, is that authentic enough? The Spanish introduced the fixed frame pedal loom along with sheep (and wool) with which to weave blankets and sarapes. Are post-Spanish conquest textiles made on these looms authentic? Why should we care?

What about attribution? If a cousin makes a rug but it is sold under the master’s label with the famous man’s name on it, is it authentic? What if the maker only earns 10% of what the product is sold for? If a master Zapotec weaver is commissioned to make a Navajo-style rug by an art dealer in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and accepts the commission in order to earn enough money to feed his family, is this authentic? After all, an accomplished weaver would have made this Navajo-like piece by hand using “traditional” weaving methods. What is the difference between a Zapotec weaver making a Navajo-style rug and a Chinese weaver making a Zapotec-style rug?

What if a rug merchant conducts and/or supervises the natural dyeing process and certifies that all the yarn used in the rug is naturally-dyed, but hires others to weave the rugs — is this authentic?

What is the difference between a commercial enterprise and authenticity?
Who will monitor and define what is authentic? Can we be authentic and earn a reasonable livelihood, being fairly compensated for time and talent? What is the range of acceptability for what is authentic and what is not?

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts and opinions.

In large part, I think, the consumer has responsibility for knowing what s/he is buying and supporting. “Do your homework,” a wise woman once told me. And that’s what I am asking you to do.

Did you know?

1. Tour guides receive 30-40% commission for bringing people to a weaver’s workshop. (There are some exceptions.) They likely won’t bring people to a house that does not pay commission unless you insist.

2. It is posited that only 8-10 families in Teotitlan actually dye their wool with natural materials. The rest will show a cochineal or indigo dyeing demonstration but do not employ this dyeing method for their tapestry-making.

3. Many of the textile patterns you see on Teotitlan rugs are Navajo derivatives or some combination of Zapotec and Navajo designs. Navajo designs were commissioned by importers in the 1980’s to fulfill the Southwest U.S. art market.

4. Chemically-dyed aniline rugs can be 40% cheaper than naturally dyed wool rugs. That’s because there are many more time-consuming steps to the wool preparation process and higher cost for the raw dye materials.

5. Chemically-dyed wool is environmentally toxic to the weaver and the local community. Breathing vapors causes lung disease and cancer. Discarded chemical dye water seeps into the ground water table.

6. Most people can’t tell the difference between a naturally-dyed and chemically-dyed textile. Can you?

Cautionary Note: WordPress will publish automatically generated related posts, which will show up below. I have no control over which they select or their legitimacy. Explore and determine by your own standards what is authentic or not! Cheers. Norma

Rhythms of Zapotec Weaving

The thump, thump, rhythmic cadence of the loom awakens me on the mornings that Federico Chavez Sosa is at his loom. It is a gentle beating against the warp threads that have just been inserted, back and forth, back and forth, an ancient harmony like a drum beat that calls to me. The sun has not quite risen. The sky glows red orange. Out my bedroom window I see the clay pots holding geraniums, the tiled and tin roofs of adjacent adobe homes, the curl of a morning cooking fire, the tips of Sierra Madre del Sur, and a farmer carrying his burden of alfalfa to sell at the daily market. There is comfort in that sound of the loom and I can lay in bed knowing that this is an enduring rhythm, one heard throughout this village for many generations past.

I will never be a Zapotec weaver because I am not Zapotec. Even as I learn to weave on a two-harness loom using my hands and my feet to dance on the loom, to create weft that tries to mimic a generations-old tradition, I will never be able to accomplish or replicate what weavers in the village of Teotitlan del Valle are able to create. Nor do I want to. What I want to do is create an experience for non-Teotitecos to explore and appreciate the technique and skill that goes into making a Zapotec textile by trying their hand at it themselves. Photos below: El Maestro Federico Chavez Sosa. Note the curved detail of Federico’s lizard — very difficult to execute.

Weaving in Teotitlan is a cultural accumulation of family and village identity, considerable skill, and tutelage that begins at a young age. Children sit by their parents feet, watching the treadles raise and lower, gathering and dyeing yarn, spinning it into bobbins, cleaning and washing wool, long before they begin the actual weaving process. In many families, children begin to weave on the cross spindles of over-turned chairs, wrapping the warp threads across the spindles and using scraps to create the weft. For some, weaving is not an interest or skill, and they will go on to do other things, such as farm, butcher animals, sell tortillas at the market, go to work in the city or el norte.

The phrase, “it’s in your blood,” comes to mind when I think about weavers in Teotitlan. I hear of great weavers who learned from their grandfathers, uncles or cousins as apprentices, when they wanted to know more than what their fathers and mothers had accumulated. The village is a veritable weaving heaven. The anecdotal count is 2,000 looms and 7,000 people that reside there. Most will begin to weave at age eight or 10, and age 15 is considered late to start. It is a professional undertaking in which people take pride and ownership of their work.

We have just ended a four-day “Dancing on the Loom: Oaxaca Weaving Workshop,” in the home of Federico and his wife Dolores Santiago Arrellanas. What can people learn in four days? Certainly, they will not develop the lifetime of practice, experience, and cultural accumulation that it takes to become a master weaver. They will not learn the painstaking process to dress (warp) the loom, laying out yards of warp threads, winding them on posts in the courtyard, exactly counting how much they need, then carefully bringing this bundle to the loom to tie onto the harnesses by hand, one by one.

In four days, we did not even come close to making complex curves and figures that differentiate the textile produced by a master weaver from more easily executed geometric shapes found on most Teotitlan rugs.

Zapotec weavers earn their livelihood by their craftsmanship. This is not our métier. We come as visitors, explorers, wanting the multicultural experience to understand, learn, share and appreciate. I spend four days dancing on the loom and I am slow, deliberate and ponderous. I fumble, make mistakes, unravel, try again. Federico’s fingers fly, his bobbins move fluidly in the space between the heddles, his patterns are in his mind and heart, taken from pre-Hispanic images, the shadow and ground from carvings on the Mitla temple. I have no designs on becoming a professional weaver, and I love the process of being with a group of other weavers, some more and less experienced than I. Together, we are sharing this journey of learning, having fun, working with color, understanding the natural dyeing process, and respecting the work produced by our host family because we now understand through “doing” what it takes to create an outstanding textile.

It took four days (interspersed with dyeing lessons and frequent breaks) to weave a 24” wide by 22” to 30” long textile. The quality of our work is novice, at best. Trust me. We are no competition for the weavers in the village! We did laugh a lot.

During our four-day weaving workshop, we became comfortable with winding bobbins, exploring the use of color and texture, learned to dye with cochineal, indigo and pericone (wild marigold), and attempted undulating and geometric block patterns by manipulating the warp and weft. We also came to love the daily comidas (lunch) prepared by Dolores and her sister, Chalah, a sequence of food textures and flavors that are typically Oaxaca:. homemade chicken tamales with Amarillo mole sauce, sopa de flor de calabassas (squash blossom soup), spicy garbanzo soup with a plate of rice, tasajo (grilled beef), and fresh salsa. Plenty of avocado, fresh made tortillas, and tropical fruit (mango and papaya) adorned the table at each meal. Federico brought out cervezas and freshed squeezed limeade, and we learned to appreciate Micheladas.

I’ve been mulling over what makes an “authentic” Zapotec weaving, and will write more about this in another article. If you are interested in textiles, and especially in Zapotec and Navajo weaving, comparing them, and understanding the economic viability and marketability of handmade textiles in a global economy, I suggest you read, “Made in Mexico: Zapotec Weavers and the Global Ethnic Art Market,” by W. Warner Wood (Indiana University Press, ISBN 978-0-253-21986-2). It is a wonderful discussion of the issues around how the work of weaving is organized from a social, political and cultural perspective, and factors that determine success and failure.

Most importantly, it is an education for those of us who want to be certain that we are supporting people who are using more environmentally sustainable practices in the wool preparation process by using natural dyes, and wool that is not commercially produced with nylon or polyester threads. Price differentiation is a great test for quality!


We have two new weaving workshops scheduled for late November and mid-December 2008. Please see for workshop information and registration form.