Monthly Archives: May 2012

Cinco de Mayo and the Battle of Puebla

First of all, it’s important to know that today, Cinco de Mayo, is NOT Mexican Independence Day, which is September 16, 1810.

Nevertheless, it marks a significant date in history when the French army was defeated in Puebla on May 5, 1862, marking an important symbolic moment to curtail Napoleon Bonaparte’s designs on establishing a monarchy in North America.  When you visit Puebla you can still see the bullet holes in front of the house occupied by General Ignacio Zaragoza.

 

Most of us know Cinco de Mayo as a U.S. celebration of Latino culture.  There are 44.3 million Latinos living in the U.S. according to the 2008 census representing 15 percent of the population.

Perhaps we know Cinco de Mayo as the name of a favorite local Tex-Mex restaurant.  Isn’t there a Cinco de Mayo Mexican restaurant in your town?  There is in mine!  And today, many will of us will welcome the occasion to have a party and raise a toast to our southern neighbor with a beer or Margarita.  What are you doing tonight?

But there’s much more to it than that, according to historian David Hayes-Bautista, as reported today by CNN and Reza Gostar in GlendoraPatch.  It seems that Cinco de Mayo was a rallying cry in the U.S. by Latinos against the elitist French monarchy, which was sympathetic to the Confederacy during the Civil War.   At that time, Latinos sided with the Union, fearing that a Confederacy win would expand slavery to include them.

Puebla is Angelopolis, City of Angels

Dr. Hayes-Bautista, who is director of UCLA’s Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture, has uncovered the first groundbreaking research that links the celebration of liberation for Mexicans with the U.S. Civil War and the hope that the Union would prevail.  The win at the Battle of Puebla by the Mexican freedom fighters against the elitists energized many Americans early in the war when the Confederacy was powerful, especially Latinos.

So, as you raise your glass with a hearty Salud, recall that Latinos volunteered to serve in the Union Army in order to preserve freedom, independence, and fight for racial justice.

 

 

http://glendora.patch.com/articles/history-of-cinco-de-mayo-a-mexican-or-american-holiday

Felted Fashion Workshop: Making Wearable Art Oaxaca Style with Wool, Silk and Cotton

For hands-on fun, escape winter and come to Oaxaca from February 2 until February 9, 2013.  Together, during this one-week workshop, we will be immersed in the textile culture of Oaxaca to create naturally-dyed felted fabric combining wool, silk and cotton that can be hand or machine stitched into an indigenous clothing design of your choice.  Our experts, textile and fiber artist-clothing designer Jessica de Haas, from Vancouver, B.C., Canada and Eric Chavez Santiago from Oaxaca, Mexico, will show you how!

 

About Your Instructors

Jessica owns the clothing design company Funk-Shui and is an award-winning, internationally known fiber artist and teacher.  She recently completed an Arquetopia artist residency in Oaxaca, and taught and exhibited at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca.  See her website for bio and designs.

Eric Chavez Santiago, founding director of education at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, is a weaver and natural dye expert.  He has taught natural dyeing techniques  in Oaxaca and at  U.S. universities and museums since 2006.

Our Itinerary

First, working with Eric in his family’s home studio in Teotitlan del Valle, we will dye and over-dye wool roving with natural materials:  cochineal, indigo, wild marigold, pomegranates, nuts and other plants to achieve the colors you will use in your piece(s).  We will learn about mordant processes to fix the dye and dye extraction to create over 10 different colors.  Wool and dye recipes are included!

Then, working with Jessica in the courtyard of our B&B, we will felt our naturally dyed wool fiber on silk or loosely woven cotton or muslin, making a durable and beautiful fabric.  After your fabric is dry, you will have the option to cut and sew it into one of several indigenous Oaxaca styles:  the huipil (tunic), the blusa (blouse), rebozo (shawl), boufanda (scarf) or quechequemitl (cape).  Here is a piece from Jessica’s collection that you might like!

We give you a pattern book to choose your design! Below is a sample pattern for a quechquemitl.

This workshop is for all levels of experience!  You do not have to be an artist to attend.  We welcome beginners who have never worked in hand felting and more advanced fiber artists. This is a perfect residency for students, teachers and artists who may want to explore a different medium, too.

We will provide you with patterns for the basic indigenous designs that can be adjusted to fit.  If you want to contemporize them, we can help you tweak and make minor adjustments. If you have sewing or pattern drafting experience and want to experiment on your own, you are welcome to work on an independent design project after your fabric is made.

We will be based in the weaving village of Teotitlan del Valle where for generations families have been creating wool textiles.  During our time together, we will go on local field trips to meet and talk with weavers who work with natural dyes and weave fabric for wearable art as well as sturdier floor and wall tapestries.  We will see examples of the types of garments that can be created from the felted fabric we make.

Materials to bring (preliminary):

  • silk, loosely woven cotton, and/or muslin—3-4 meters (4.37 yards) minimum
  • beads, sequins, buttons, ribbons, embroidery thread and other embellishments  (we will also have a supply on hand that you can use, too)

Note: The materials listed are sufficient to make one garment. If you wish to prepare more than one piece of dyed felted fabric, you are welcome to bring more materials to dye.  However, it is likely you will only be able to complete one finished piece during the time allotted.

Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC will provide, included in your registration fee:

  • all instruction
  • 7 nights lodging
  • 7 breakfasts
  • 7 dinners
  • all dye materials
  • merino wool roving for one garment
  • pattern booklet
  • dye recipes
  • sewing machine to share, needles, thread
  • selected embellishments

Workshop is limited to 8 participants.

Daily Workshop Schedule:

Arrive Saturday, February 2, Depart Saturday, February 9 — 7 nights, 8 days

  • Day 1, Saturday, February 2, arrive and settle into your bed and breakfast posada in Teotitlan del Valle (we send directions)
  • Day 2, Sunday, February 3, natural dye workshop to prepare wool roving
  • Days 3-5, Monday-Wednesday, February 4-6, make the felted fabric on silk, cotton or muslin
  • Days 6-7, Thursday-Friday, February 7-8, create your pattern, sew and embellish the garment
  • Day 7, Friday, February 8, evening fashion show and reception
  • Day 8, Saturday, February 9, depart
(Preliminary daily schedule subject to modification.  

Workshop Fee:  $1,365 per person shared room and bath, double occupancy. Single occupancy with private bath, add $300.  Most travel programs of this type and length cost more than twice as much!

Options: 

Option 1:  Arrive a day early, on Friday, February 1, and take a Zapotec cooking class on Saturday, February 2 with Reyna Mendoza Ruiz.  Includes one night lodging, breakfast, lunch, cooking class and recipes.  $110 USD each.

Option 2:  Saturday, February 9, guided visit to Yagul and Mitla archeological sites, noted flying shuttle weaver who only works with natural dyes, boutique Mezcal palenque in Matatlan.  Excursion includes transportation, lunch, supper, admissions, and overnight lodging February 9.  $125 per person.

Option 3:  Sunday, February 10, all day excursion guided visit to Tlacolula Market, including apron and rebozo avenues!  Includes transportation, lunch, supper and overnight lodging. $75 per person.

Option 4:  Saturday and Sunday Nights in Oaxaca City.  We will arrange your stay at a lovely Bed and Breakfast in the city where you can explore the shops and dine in great restaurants.  We will provide you with a list of our favorites.  $125 per night per person.

About Our Workshops, Retreats and Programs.  We offer educational programs that are hands-on, fun, culturally sensitive, and offer you an immersion experience.   Our workshop leaders are experts in their field, knowledgeable, have teaching experience and guide you in the learning process.  Our goal is to enhance your knowledge while giving you time to explore and discover.

About Lodging and Accommodations. To keep this trip affordable and accessible, we stay in a local posada operated by three generations of women — grandmother, mother, daughter — all great cooks! The food is all housemade (including the tortillas), safe to eat and delicious.  Vegetarian options are available.

Accommodations are clean and basic.  Shared baths are across the courtyard. (Bring flip-flops and flashlight.)   The base price of the trip includes shared room and bath; single supplement with private bath is available (add $300).   Please indicate your preference.

Your registration fee does NOT include airfare, taxes, admissions to museums and archeological sites, gratuities, liquor/alcoholic beverages, some meals and some transportation.

Deposits, Reservations and Cancellations.  A 50% deposit ($683) is required to guarantee your spot.  The final payment for the balance due (including any supplemental costs) shall be paid by December 15, 2012.  We prefer Payment with PayPal.  We will be happy to send you an invoice.

If cancellation is necessary, please notify us in writing by email.   After December 15, 2012, no refunds are possible; however, we will make every possible effort to fill your reserved space.  Your registration is transferable to a substitute.  If you cancel before December 15, we will refund 50% of your deposit.  We strongly recommend that you take out trip cancellation, baggage, emergency evacuation and medical insurance before you begin your trip, since unforeseen circumstances are possible.

To register or for questions, contact:  normahawthorne@mac.com  I am happy to set up a Skype call with you, too.  Skype name:  Oaxacaculture

 

The Basket Makers, Benito Juarez Market, Oaxaca, Mexico

At the Calle Fr. Bartolome de las Casas mid-block entrance to the Benito Juarez Market, the indigenous women who weave baskets sit like sentries or a welcoming committee, surrounded by their wares.

They arrange themselves cross legged or perched on their knees or atop small stools, however they can find comfort.  On their laps, they cradle narrow strips of palm.

    

Their fingers are fast, with years of experience weaving the natural material into baskets, tortilla warmers, containers for jewelry or small gifts.  They use an ancient weaving pattern called petate, taken from the Nahuatl word for bedroll.

 The oldest one, Margarita, is from the time when indigenous people slept on woven mats which they rolled up neatly during the day to make room for the cooking fires.   Her sight is not as good as it once was, but her fingers know the way.  Perhaps the arthritis will not slow her down.  Her comadres (women friends) are younger and more agile.   They banter, keep each other company, cross sell, look out for each other’s well-being.

I discovered that to buy from one means to buy something from each of them.  Imagine, an intricately hand-woven basket for less than $5 USD and some for as little as seventy-five cents. I walked away with at least ten beautiful, lightweight baskets (important for the 50 lb. airplane bag weight limit) to give as gifts.  They are perfect wrapping containers for Oaxaca chocolate, coffee beans, and other treasures!  Who could resist these women and their contribution to the weaving culture of Oaxaca.

Two places open for Oaxaca Photography Workshop: Market Towns and Artisan Villages.  The course starts June 29.