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Norma Writes for Selvedge Magazine Issues #89 + #109
Creating Connection and Meaning between travelers and with indigenous artisans. Meet makers where they live and work. Join small groups of like-minded explorers. Go deep into remote villages. Gain insights. Support cultural heritage and sustainable traditions ie. hand weaving and natural dyeing. Create value and memories. Enjoy hands-on experiences. Make a difference.
What is a Study Tour: Our programs are designed as learning experiences, and as such we talk with makers about how and why they create, what is meaningful to them in their designs, the ancient history of patterning and design, use of color, tradition and innovation, values and cultural continuity, and the social context within which they work. First and foremost, we are educators. Norma worked in top US universities for over 35 years and Eric founded the education department at Oaxaca’s textile museum. We create connection and help artisans reach people who value them and their work.
Why We Left, Expat Anthology: Norma’s Personal Essay
We Contribute Two Chapters!
Meet Makers. Make a DifferenceOaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC has offered programs in Mexico since 2006. We have over 30 years of university, textile and artisan development experience. See About Us.
Programs can be scheduled to meet your independent travel plans. Send us your available dates.
Designers, retailers, wholesalers, curators, universities and others come to us to develop artisan relationships, customized itineraries, study abroad programs, meetings and conferences. It's our pleasure to make arrangements.
Select Clients *Abeja Boutique, Houston *Selvedge Magazine-London, UK *Esprit Travel and Tours *Penland School of Crafts *North Carolina State University *WARP Weave a Real Peace *Methodist University *MINNA-Goods *Smockingbird Kids *MINNA *University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Tell us how we can put a program together for you! Send an email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Puebla Textiles at the Arts Cooperative “Siuamej”
So far, I have discovered only one shop in Puebla city that sells high quality indigenous, handwoven textiles. Siuamej is a cooperative representing over 16 groups of women who work in local crafts from the various municipalities of the state of Puebla. The sales help contribute to the well-being of more than 600 indigenous women scattered throughout the mountainous region of Puebla beyond this major city.
Most of the pieces are wool and woven on back-strap looms. They are hand-embroidered with intricate designs of birds, flowers and geometric shapes and patterns. The remote mountain villages are cold in winter and wool is a necessity. Few pieces are reformatted for the “tourist” market, and as a consequence can be considered “traditional.”
Puebla weaving and embroidery style
Contemporary pieces are not likely to be woven with cloth colored with natural dyes. The piece below is an antique and made of wool colored with natural dyes. It is a riot of primary color and intricately embroidered. The price was 5,000 pesos — a bit too rich for my pocketbook! But hopefully, someone who knows its value will have snarfed it up by now.
Antique Rebozo Colored with Natural Dyes
The detailing is exquisite. Cats, butterlies, eagles, dogs, turkeys, rabbits, birds, all adorn this marvelous piece.
This and the pieces below are typical of the Hueyapan region. Siuamej represents the crafts of Chachahuantla, Chigmecatitlan, Cholula, Cuetzalan, Huatlatlauca, Mezontla, Pahuatlan, Yaonahua, and Zacatlan, in addition to the capital city. Each area has a distinctive design style.
Puebla, an abundance of textile creativity
I bought a lovely, backstrap loom woven natural cotton (off white) quechquemetl (an over the head sewn-together scarf-like shawl) make in Cuetzalan, a town I have heard of but never visited. I was tempted to go home with more, but I knew my two pieces of luggage were already close to maximum weight. Even a few ounces more might have tipped me over and I was already planning on wearing two outfits on the plane ride home.
Puebla textile detail
Here, you can see the traditional handwork along with the hand-tied fringes. It’s quite lovely. Most pieces are priced in the $40-$100 USD range.
For a complete visual compendium of Puebla textiles, see www.mexicantextiles.com and search for the word “Hueyapan” which is the region where these pieces are made.
To find the shop Siuamej, walk from the Zocalo on Av. Juan de Palafox y Mendoza toward the antiques and talavera district. The shop is a couple of blocks from the Zocalo on your left. The address is Av. Juan de Palafox y Mendoza #206 Centro Historico, Tel. (222) 2 32 36 94
The Centro Historico, Puebla