Oaxaca City Textile Collector’s Tour

We’ve just added this new day tour to our menu of workshops and tours. It is designed to give textile collectors, retailers, wholesalers, fashionistas, and aficionados exclusive access! Different and more specialized than any of our other one-day textile experiences, we take you into the homes and studios of some of the finest weavers and cooperatives found in the State of Oaxaca. What makes this different?

Based on our vast experience working with weavers, we know who makes the absolute best garments! They are individuals and families who come from remote areas of Oaxaca: the coast, from the Mixtec, Triqui or Mixe regions. They represent their families here in the city, where they maintain a residence. Where they live and work are obscure, unknown, off the beaten path, up switchback roads high in the mountains beyond the Guelaguetza stadium, or in the foothills of new neighborhoods under the shadow of the Sierra Madre del Sur. Because we have personal relationships with them, they welcome us and whomever we bring to their homes to see their collections.

Because this tour is so personal, we limit it to FOUR people at a time.

Cost: $450 for one person. Add $200 per person for each additional person.

Itinerary: We pick you up in the historic center of Oaxaca at 9:00 a.m. in a comfortable four-wheel drive vehicle. We need this to pick our way up the switchback road up to the top of a mountain that overlooks the Oaxaca valley! We return you to the city around 5:30 p.m.

You meet the makers! All along the way, you will see demonstrations, discuss motifs and iconography, how the fabric and dyes are created, and learn about the cultural history of the cloth. A rare and insider experience.

Who we visit:

  • Nationally recognized back-strap loom weavers from San Mateo del Mar, where they create gauze clothing embellished with sea life, flora and fauna of their region, mostly 80/2 and 60/2 finest gauge cotton or silk. Three types of weaving are employed — 1) passed thread technique; 2) supplementary weft technique; and 3) double-faced technique. San Mateo is on the ocean on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, eight-hours from Oaxaca city.
  • Award-winning back-strap loom weavers from San Juan Cotzocon in the Sierra Mixe of Oaxaca. You find symbols of serpents, flowers, mountains and whimsical animals in their work. Fine, intricate detail using the supplementary weft technique. High in the mountains, about half-way between Oaxaca city and Salina Cruz, were you to go there it would take five-hours on a curving mountain road. Then, would you know who to contact?
  • Outstanding pieces from a cooperative based in San Pedro Amuzgos in the Sierra Sur, that includes pieces made from hand-spun coyuchi and green cotton, indigo and cochineal dyed threads, and the rare caracol purpura. This cooperative also represents work from Xochistlahuaca and Zacoalpan, sister Amuzgo villages in Guerrero, plus Santiago Ixtayutla and Santa Maria Zacatepec — a mere 125 miles from Oaxaca, but a seven-hour road trip over winding mountain passes!
  • The exclusive bodega of a famous collector who explains how he works with artisans and supports them OR a young, innovative Triqui weaver who is working only in natural dyes using traditional motifs created on the back-strap loom.

Mid-way through the day, we make a lunch stop in the city at a cafe that serves delicious food featuring Oaxaca specialties. Lunch is at your own expense and not included in the cost of the tour.

Note: Because artisan schedules are variable, we reserve the right to adjust the itinerary without notice.

Your Oaxaca Cultural Navigator is Eric Chavez Santiago.

Eric Chavez Santiago is an expert in Oaxaca and Mexican textiles and folk art with a special interest in artisan development and promotion. He is a weaver and natural dyer by training and a fourth generation member of the Fe y Lola textile group. He and his wife Elsa are founders of Taller Teñido a Mano dye studio where they produce naturally dyed yarn skeins and textiles for worldwide distribution. Eric is a business partner with Oaxaca Cultural Navigator, too. He is trilingual, speaking Zapotec, Spanish and English and is a native of Teotitlan del Valle. A graduate of Anahuac University, Eric founded the Museo Textil de Oaxaca education department in 2007 and went on to become managing director of the folk art gallery Andares del Arte Popular, a post he held until late 2021. He has intimate knowledge of local traditions, culture and community.

How to Register? Send us an email at least a week in advance of your visit. Give us a choice of dates you could be available. This is important because artisan schedules are irregular. We customize every appointment. We then send you a request for a 25% non-refundable deposit that can be paid using Zelle or Venmo after we confirm date availability. We will need your pick-up location, too.

Note: Some artisans only accept bank deposits using wire transfer. We recommend you install the App Remitly to make purchases. Others may accept credit cards. All accept MXN pesos in cash. (U.S. dollars require that artisans take funds to a money exchange, which charges them high commissions. We don’t recommend this form of payment.) Also of note: We highly discourage bargaining. Prices are fair and you are buying direct from the makers. It takes hours, days, weeks, months to make one garment.

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