Monthly Archives: February 2022

Chiapas Day 3: Designer Alberto Lopez Gomez Dazzles

A highlight of our time in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, is a visit to Alberto Lopez Gomez’ studio Kokul Pok’. He is the weaver/designer from Magdalena Aldama who was was recognized and invited to New York Fashion Week in 2020. Aldama is a remote village in the highlands about two hours from the city where women have been weaving on the back strap loom for centuries. He tells us he is invited to Washington, D.C. to exhibit and sell in April this year, representing over 200 weavers from his village and a few others who he works with. He is a young man with talent, vision and a mission. It is always satisfying to visit with him as he explains the weaving traditions of his village and his family.

Alberto learned to weave ten years ago at age 22 from his mother, who also taught him the symbols in the cloth. She is now deceased. He explains to our group the details in a magnificently woven huipil made by his sister Rosa Lopez Gomez. It uses hand-spun wool dyed with natural plants available locally, such as lichens and moss. Most huipiles today use commercially purchased cotton threads, so this piece is unusual. When he began to weave, he was ostracized because this is women’s work. But, he says women are not recognized either for their weaving skills and his goal is to bring more attention to the highest quality weavers in a very machismo culture. He talks about how he wants to uplift the important work of women: They prepare the yarn, spin and dye. They are the cultural guardians by including important spiritual and corporal symbols in the cloth.

Want to come in 2023? send us an email.

Alberto is still the only man from Aldama who weaves. But he does more than that. He is a designer and guides innovation by suggesting color palates that go beyond the traditional. The workmanship of the pieces is of the highest quality. The weaving is dense and filled with meaning.

We learn about the symbols as Alberto explains each row of weaving. Our study tours are educational experiences that go deep. We see the triangles on the main panel of the textile and hear that this represents the universe. The side panels are where the weaver expresses herself by including symbols that are important to her. This one includes God, Catholic crosses, the plumed serpent, the union of mother and father, four cardinal points, the center of the universe, stars, orchards. Larger stars and smaller stars are Venus and the constellations. We see flowers and corn that represent the planting and harvest seasons. Women represent in textiles what they see around them in the natural world. When stars are in alignment, the elders teach that this provides notice of the coming rains. When a garment is worn and the arms are outstretched, it forms the symbol of the cross. The serpent design has a deep meaning: it connects earth and sky with the god of earth.

Alberto Lopez Gomez considers himself to be a voice for women in his community. He weaves, designs, communicates the history. His inspiration comes from dreams. His dream is to bring these textiles to other parts of the world and disseminate ancient Maya tradition through the textiles.

  • Facebook: Alberto Lopez Gomez
  • Instagram: Albereto Lopez Gomez

Alberto and Sue

2nd Try. Day 2 Tenejapa Carnival +

It’s late. I want to post this before the days get away from me though it’s past bedtime. So it will be short. We spent a long and satisfying day in villages beyond San Cristobal de las Casas.

First to Tenejapa for market day and the extraordinary display of music, indigenous traje (dress/costumes), and flags that are part of the 13-day Carnival, the village feast days to honor their patron saint San Sebastián. The number 13 is significant in the Maya calendar, representing the levels of the universe. We call this syncretism, a blending of indigenous and Spanish Catholic beliefs.

After a visit to the women’s cooperative of 200 members, we made a stop to see a demonstration of pompom making by the master. his grandfather introduced the style of decorating men’s Tenejapa festival hats with these brightly colored balls. The family is now experimenting with natural dyes.

For years we have been stopping in Romerillo to picnic under the Maya crosses at the apex of the cemetery. It’s a reflective and spiritual experience.

We head home at sunset, to the glow of an almost full moon. But only after visiting Maruch and her family in a rural part of Chamula territory. We see a demonstration of all the traditional parts of weaving with a back strap loom, then felting to make a furry warm sheep wool skirt perfect for the cold and misty Highlands

A full day, from 9 am to 6:30 pm, exploring the weaving culture of Chiapas.

Come with us in 2023. Send an email to get on the notification list.

Oaxaca Pop-Up Expoventa Sale: Saturday, February 19, 2022

We are back to Oaxaca City after nine days on the Costa Chica, that stretch of Pacific coast that runs from Puerto Escondido north to Acapulco. This is the most abundant and diverse textile region of Oaxaca. Indigenous villages tucked into the folds of the coastal mountain range hold weaving treasures beyond our imagination. Here, women grow pre-Hispanic native cotton, pick it, seed it, beat it, card it, spin it and weave it into amazing cloth. Of course, I bought too much in my desire to support hard-working and very talented weavers.(Note: 5 spaces left for 2023 tour. Don’t wait to make your reservation.)

Plus, I have a few pieces from my collection from other areas of Oaxaca.

Now, I am holding an expovento in the City of Oaxaca, one afternoon only. Everyone is invited. Here are the details:

Where: Home of Sha Brown, Constitucion #301, between Benito Juarez and Pino Suarez

When: Saturday, February 19, 2022

Time: 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m.

How to Buy: Cash (pesos or dollars), Venmo, Zelle, PayPal

What: Blusas, huipiles, bags, shawls, table runners, pillow covers, hand-woven on the backstrap loom from Pinotepa de Don Luis, San Juan Colorado, Xochistlahuaca, Zacoalpan, Triqui and a small selection of dense French knot embroidered long-sleeve blouses from Chiapas. Most are made with naturally-dyed cotton thread. I’ll have a few winter weight wool ponchos and shawls, too.

PLEASE RSVP: or send a WhatsApp: +1 919-274-6194

Here a Textile Texture Sampler of what’s in store

Crazy Love: Valentine’s Day in Oaxaca, Mexico

Happy Valentine’s Day

Red and pink hearts are everywhere around town. They hang from doorways and adorn window displays.

Dia del Amor is a big deal here. As early as Saturday afternoon, I saw young (and older) couples holding hands and gazing into each others’ eyes across cafe tables, getting a jump start on The Day of Love.

❤️ Love for another is an amazing feeling. I love my son and soon-to-be-daughter-in-law, though I haven’t known her for nearly as long. I love my sister and brother. I have loved two husbands before they became wasbands. I love my Zapotec family in Teotitlan del Valle and the women friends in my life. I don’t have a fella now but I am open to the possibility.

What is love? and is love different across cultures? Can we love our work or our craft in the same way as we love another human being? What words express these differences? Will hearts and flowers, chocolate and a poem be enough to express feelings that are often too difficult to verbalize?

We use the word love freely. I love Oaxaca. I love this dress. I love chocolate cake and nicuatole and a Maracuya Mezcalini. I love to walk. Are there enough nuances in our language to express the different levels of love and what it applies to?

How far are we willing to stretch for love? Does love conquer all? Mostly, I think, the idea of love keeps us open to all that is perfect in a world that is flawed, and to offer our best selves to another.

Weavers From the Prairie of Flowers: Oaxaca Coast Textile Tour

About three years ago, before our last visit to the Oaxaca coast in 2020 and long before Covid hit us, the famous Amuzgo weaving cooperative Flor de Xochistlahuaca located across the Oaxaca border in Guerrero state separated into two groups. We heard there were differences in mission and objectives. Some founders of the original group wanted to function more as a mutual support organization to help one another, and do more than weave and sell. From this separation was born Flores de la Llanura Tejadores or Weavers from the Prairie of Flowers.

They are from Xochistlahuaca, Zacoalpan and Plan de Muertos (village name). Some work in natural dyes. They pick, card, beat, and make fine thread from indigenous cotton using the malacate drop spindle. They weave huipiles and rebozos on back strap looms. Their signature design is a garden of flowers executed in precise mathematical patterns seared into historic memory. In Zacoalpan, some of the women grow native organic cotton — coyuchi brown, pale green and creamy white — on small plots that they tend themselves or with their husbands and children.

The cooperative is committed to education and takes great pride in teaching young women and men the art of weaving on the back strap loom. Five boys are now learning to weave, but it still remains the work of girls and women.

They are also committed to social justice. We are told women here (and know that throughout Mexico) live with violence, especially in remote indigenous villages. In many Amuzgo villages, violence is normalized. Women accept and do not complain. More and more now, people are speaking up and speaking out.

Three years ago, a young adult daughter of cooperative member Silvia was a victim of femicide. A mother of three young children, her husband took her life. Her family and her community wanted justice. Over two years, they did the legal work to land the killer a 40-year prison term. They want to take a stand to tell women to speak up and say it’s not okay to be violated.

A documentary video tells the story in a very sensitive way. This is the trailer.

Flores de la llanura / Trailer-Esp from Urdimbre Audiovisual on Vimeo.

We gather together, Amuzgo women and visitors to discuss identity, values, traditions and weaving techniques. Then, we have a delicious lunch of home cooked pozole especially prepared for us at a local comedor around the corner. 

Then, we return to look at all the beautiful clothing hung from lines tied to tree trunks. There’s a special table set up under the trees where a fundraiser for Silvia’s grandchildren is underway. We make a beeline to support this effort. 

Their work honors cultural, ancestral traditions. They hold the stories of their mothers, grandmothers and antipasados (ancestors) close to them through the creation of magnificent cloth. They learned to weave in order to clothe themselves. They call baby clothes Mother Cotton and give handwoven gifts of clothing when there is a birth. The story goes that grandmothers are making thread to tie off the umbilical cord. Cotton, they say, has been here since the creation of the world. They value their culture and their job is to maintain the traditions. Yecenia, a cooperative leader, tells us that the Spanish tried to kill the culture, so much of the spiritual significance  of the symbols woven into the cloth are lost.

We will visit Las Flores de la Llanura in 2023. We are taking registrations now for 2023 Oaxaca Coast Textile Tour. We limit our travelers to 10 people. Please tell us when you are ready to register and make a deposit to participate. We sell out so make your decision as soon as you are able. All travelers on our 2022 tour tested covid negative before returning to the USA and Canada!

Yecenia welcomes us in her native Amuzgo language, one of 16 indigenous languages in Oaxaca state

Its a blessing to be here to support this group.

We all made a purchase. Few foreigners come here and finding places to sell is difficult. A tour group that came two weeks before us bought nothing and the women of Flores de la Llanura were very disappointed.

see the video here