Monthly Archives: June 2022

Seven Huipiles from Pinotepa de Don Luis, Oaxaca–Sale Direct From Maker

When I posted about the process of sewing the embroidered collar onto my blusa made in Pinotepa de Don Luis, weaver Monica Hernandez from Pinotepa de Don Luis contacted me via Facebook messenger. She asked if I would help her sell handwoven blouses (blusas) and dresses (huipiles) she and her sister made. Her husband is Rafael Avedaño, son of the famous Don Habucuc Avedaño, who learned to gather and milk the rare caracol purpura snail that yields the beautiful purple snail dye found in the rocky crevices along the north coast of Oaxaca. Rafa learned from his father and a lot has been written about how this indigenous group is preserving an ancient tradition that goes back centuries. The purple snail dye is used in all ceremonial dresses, including the wedding dress which women will be buried in when they die.

Rafa Avedano dyeing cotton with caracol pur

Most of these seven huipiles include threads dyed with caracol purpura, making them very collectible because this type of snail is on the cusp of extinction. It takes two-to-three months to make each piece.

Our Oaxaca Coast Textile Study Tour 2023 is SOLD OUT. (I am taking a waiting list.) This is the next best thing to owning a piece of history and a garment that you can wear with pride that it is completely handwoven on the back-strap loom and dyed with natural materials. You support indigenous weavers who live in remote areas where tourists rarely travel. You are supporting sustainable entrepreneurism — it is unusual for a weaver to reach out into the greater world without the help of a middleman who buys cheaply and makes a big profit. As soon as a piece sells, I send funds directly to Monica.

How to Buy:  mailto:norma.schafer@icloud.com Tell me the item you want by number. Send me your mailing address. Tell me how you want to pay. Choose one of three ways.

You can pay one of three ways: 1) with a Zelle transfer and no service fee; 2) with Venmo or 3) with PayPal. If you choose either #2 or #3, we add on a 3% service fee which is their charge to us, and we will send a Request for Funds to your email address. The request will include the cost of the garment + $14 mailing. If you want more than one piece, I’m happy to combine mailing. Tell me which payment method you prefer and I’ll send you more information. Buy now and I’ll bring your garment back with me on August 9 when I return from Oaxaca to New Mexico. If you want the piece sooner, I can mail via FedEx or UPS from Oaxaca at a cost of $60 USD.

Now for these breath-taking garments! Prices are lower than usual — as if you were there and buying directly.

SOLD #1. Pure White huipil with hand embroidered collar embellished with caracol purpura threads. 25” wide x 36” long $250.
SOLD 2. dyed with the pulp of the jicara gourd, this huipil features purple snail dye and indigo threads. 28” wide x 39” long. $365
#3. Black Huipil (commercial black thread) woven with purple snail dye and wild marigold. 32” wide x 33” long. $365
#4. Indigo huipil with purple snail dye and coyuchi native brown cotton. 30” wide x 33” long. $395
SOLD #5. Dyed with wild marigold and embellished with purple snail dye, this huipil is 26” wide x 32” long. $260
#6. Measuring 25” wide x 31” long, this is an indigo and caracol purpura masterpiece. It features the double-headed eagle and family motifs. $325
SOLD #7. huipil dyed with jicara gourd and embellished with snail dye and cochineal. 27” wide x 59” long. $345

Note: width is measured across the front — it is not the circumference. please take your measurements carefully and compare to your favorite garment. All sales final. Monica thanks you! so do I

Rare Opportunity, Day Trips, July 27 + July 29: San Pedro Cajonos and Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec

We are doing a cultural textile tour from July 25-31, 2022 where extraordinary garments are made by very talented weavers. This includes two days up into the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains. We want to fill our van! So, we are offering one-day travel opportunities to Oaxaca residents, collectors and visitors. Join our travel group for one or both days! We have space for 4 more travelers on each day.

Day 1–July 27: San Pedro Cajonos Silk Weaving Village

On July 27 we depart Teotitlan del Valle at 8 a.m. for a two and-a-half hour luxury van ride up the mountain to San Pedro Cajonos. If you haven’t been there, this is your opportunity! We visit one of the finest, most distinguished silk weaving cooperatives in all of Mexico. Here, high in the Sierra Madre del Sur, Moises Martinez and his group created a sanctuary to cultivate and preserve silkworm production, with hand-spinning, natural dyeing and weaving. Yes! They grow the mulberry trees to feed the silkworms before they spin their cocoons. The cocoons are silk! You will see the entire process — growing, spinning, dyeing and weaving — and meet these talented weavers. They will prepare a homemade lunch for us and show us their silk textiles and accessories that are for sale. Garments include blouses, dresses, shawls, scarves and jewelry. We return to Teotitlan del Valle before suppertime.

Day 2–July 29: Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec

On July 29, we depart Teotitlan del Valle at 8 a.m. to travel two hours on our luxury van to the mountain village of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec. Many of you may have heard of the village when several years ago a French designer appropriated the cultural heritage design of the blouses that are made here and marketed them as her own. Here you will meet weavers and embroiderers who work on the back-strap and pedal looms in wool and cotton. They use locally dyed alderwood tree bark called Palo de Aguila in Spanish to yield soft, creamy brown, beige and orange colors that are distinctive and beautiful. We will discuss with the family the issues of cultural appropriation and copyright, and what we as buyers can do to support their cultural patrimony. They also use banana tree bark, indigo, cochineal and wild marigold to dye the threads before weaving. After lunch, we will visit a large format potter famous for his amazing pieces featured in museums and private collections around the world. We return to Teotitlan del Valle before suppertime.

Cost: $395 each day. Or, register for both days at $735. Cost includes luxury transportation originating from and returning to Teotitlan del Valle, lunch, snacks and water, cultural commentary and textile expertise, bilingual English-Spanish translation services with a native Spanish speaker, and an adventure into remote mountain villages that you may never be able to do on your own.

Send us an email to register. Payment can be made in full with a Zelle transfer (no service fee) or with PayPal or Venmo (with a 3% service fee). Let us know which payment method you prefer.

Your knowledgeable guides are Eric Chavez Santiago, co-director and Norma Schafer, founder and co-director of Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC.

Eric is an expert in Oaxaca and Mexico 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. He is trilingual, speaking Zapotec, Spanish and English and is a native of Teotitlan del Valle. He is a graduate of Anahuac University, founder of the Museo Textil de Oaxaca education department, and former managing director of folk art gallery Andares del Arte Popular. He has intimate knowledge of local traditions, culture and community.

Norma founded Oaxaca Cultural Navigator in 2006 while she was a senior staff administrator at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Since then, hundreds of people have traveled with Norma to experience the art, culture and textiles of Oaxaca, Chiapas and other parts of Mexico. About 65% of all participants return to take workshops, day tours and extended travel programs, an indication of client loyalty and satisfaction.

Note: To travel with us, you must be Covid vaccinated. Everyone over age 50 is required to have two boosters. Please send us a copy of your vaccine card upon registration. In addition, N95 and KN95 face masks are required for all indoor activities. We observe US CDC guidelines regarding same. We do this out of respect for each other and for native peoples who have not had access to the quality of vaccines that we enjoy. We will ventilate the van and most of our activities will take place outdoors.

We also strongly recommend for these two day tours that you have travel insurance for accident protection.

Travel to/from Teotitlan del Valle is on your own. Please make your own arrangements to arrive by the departing time. When you register, we will send details of where to meet and recommendations for Teotitlan taxi drivers who can pick you up in the city and return you there at the end of our day.

Thank you very much! Let us know if you have any questions.

Un Recuerdo: Weaving and Embroidery on the Oaxaca Coast

I’m looking out of my little rental house at a sea of sagebrush. In the distance are the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, part of the southern Rockies, somewhat obscured by the haze from wildfires. It is supposed to rain tomorrow. Our New Mexico native peoples are doing rain dances. So am I as I wait for my casita to be finished, waiting to see if I can get back to Oaxaca in July in time for our textile tour to the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains.

Tucked up into the crevices of this mountain range are vibrant textile villages where weavers cultivate silkworms that feed on mulberry trees to create loomed silk garments dyed with natural plants and cochineal. They are glorious.

A. Frontmor back?

Meanwhile, as I dream of Oaxaca, I’m also thinking of the rich textile traditions along the Costa Chica north of Puerto Escondido. In particular, today I’m focused on Pinotepa de Don Luis. During our last textile tour of the Oaxaca coast in January 2022 we were based in the regional coastal town of Pinotepa Nacional and did day trips up to this and other mountain weaving villages.

B. Front or back?

I like to include a market meander of the vast public market in Pinotepa Nacional. In addition to regional foods and an immersion into the Afro-Mexican culture, there are some extraordinary finds. I tell everyone in our group to look up, look down, look all around into every nook and cranny. Last winter, I found some rare hand-woven ixtle (agave fiber) woven market bags to sling over the shoulder or to wear as a cross body bolsa to carry fruit, veggies and textiles!

Surprise! There are also hand and machine embroidered collars that local women use to embellish the necklines of simple blouses and dresses. Usually, women who are produce sellers have these, too. You can miss them if you are only looking at mangoes and bananas. The collar I bought for about $25 has been waiting for me to do something with. Definitely a project.

I had something in mind. A simple, indigo-dyed huipil/blusa that would be the perfect garment to show off this amazing collar. Pinotepa de Don Luis master weaver Sebastiana Guzman made me one, but I wasn’t sure how well the collar would fit the neckline of this blusa so I procrastinated on starting to figure it out. Until yesterday. It’s too hot here to go outside (90 degrees) and the wind kicks up, making it hard to walk. Hiding from sun and wind, I decided to give this project a start.

My finished project

First, I needed to hem the inside and outside edges of the collar. Then, I needed to fit it to the blouse. A steam iron helped to get everything positioned properly. After five hours of hand-sewing and pressing, I’m very pleased with the results.

Now the big question is: Which is the front and which is the back? Perhaps you can help advise me!

Example of what you can find

By the way, we are sold out for the Oaxaca Coast Textile Tour 2023, but you can get on a wait list or come with us in 2024. Just send me an email.

Sea creatures, plants and wildlife, mythical beasts
Example: Double-headed turkey from Pinotepa Nacional

Life Update and All Things Mexico Spring Clearance

Here in Northern New Mexico the winds are gusting. While some of the early spring wildfires are contained, more are igniting, mostly from lightening strikes. Near Georgia O’Keeffe’s home in Abiquiu a new fire erupted in El Rito, a small mountain community about 30 miles from where I live. Scary stuff. Smoke obliterated the mountains and I had to wear a face mask in the car. The air smelled like a campfire. We are in severe drought conditions and global warming is taking its toll. A couple of weeks ago, an unusual early spring hurricane hit the Oaxaca coast hard. My friends reported lots of devastation. Climate change is wrecking havoc.

Meanwhile, I’m waiting for my small house to be completed on the Rio Grande Gorge. everything is delayed and costs have soared. It was supposed to be May, then amended to the end of June. I’m hoping for this so I can close, get my mortgage and return to Oaxaca in time for the Summer Textile Mountain Tour. Hoping this will happen, though not sure. (We can still register you — there are a few open spaces — register by June 20 and get 10% off!)

Celebrate summer with a colorful hand-embroidered shoulder bag. 9×10” with 42” strap, lined with zipper. Specify by color. Was $56 each. Discounted to $29 each.

I’m still culling my collection and will continue to do so as I prepare for another move. Here are some wonderful pieces to offer to you today.

To Buy: Please send me an email with your name, email address, mailing address and include the Item Number you wish to purchase. We add $14 flat rate to mail and we are happy to combine orders in one shipment. Tell me if you want to pay with a Zelle transfer (no service fee) or use PayPal or Venmo (with a 3% service fee). For PayPal or Venmo, I will send you a request for funds. Thanks very much. -Norma

#1 Las Sanjuaneras blusa. natural dyes, indigo and banana bark. 30” wide x 23” long. $225
SOLD #2 Las Sanjuaneras blusa. Índigo and mahogany. 30” wide x 27” long. $225.
SOLD #3 Tote/weekend bag, indigo and leather, lined, zipper, interior pockets. Wool tapestry hand-woven. $155.
SOLD #4 Coyuchi cotton huipil from Zacoalpan, Guerrero. 28” wide x 37” long. Deeply discounted $295.
#5 From Pinotepa de Don Luis, Oaxaca, gorgeous fuchsine huipil, handspun cotton. 31” wide x 46” long. sturdy fabric. $325
#6 Pinotepa de Don Luis blusa dye with gourd and rare purple snail. 29” wide x 29” long $290.
#7 from Cancuc, Chiapas, huipil, dyed with nanche fruit and cochineal. 20” wide x 35” long. $250.
SOLD #8 Xochistlahuaca backstrap loomed shoulder bag Bargain! $65
SOLD #9 Collector’s Huipil from Xochistlahuaca. 30” wide x 45” long Was $875 NOW $475.
#10 Size XL french knot embroidered blouse from Chiapas, spectacular workmanship. Was $145 Now $110.
#11. San Andres Larrainzar blusa. Backstrap loomed. 22-1/2” wide x 25” long. $68
SOLD #13. From the famous Palafox family of San Mateo del Mar, Oaxaca Size XL 35” wide x 33” long. cochineal, wild marigold, indigo. sea creature motifs woven into finest handwoven gauze cotton. You get this for what was paid for it. $375
#14. from Chiapas designer Alberto Lopez Gomez, the best quality huipil from the region. Size Medium. You get this for cost! $375
#15. And this one from Alberto Lopez Gomez. size Medium Also at cost $375

COMING UP — JEWELRY!