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Norma writes for Selvedge Magazine Issue #109 -- Rise Up, November 2022
Norma Writes for Selvedge Latin Issue #89
What is a Study Tour: Our programs are designed as learning experiences, and as such we talk with weavers 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. Our interest is in creating connection and artisan economic development.
Why We Left, Expat Anthology: Norma’s Personal Essay
Norma Contributes Two Chapters!
- Norma Schafer and Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC has offered programs in Mexico since 2006. We have over 30 years of university program development experience. See my resume.
Study Toursd are personally curated and introduce you to Mexico's greatest artisans. They are off-the-beaten path, internationally recognized. We give you access to where people live and work. Yes, it is safe and secure to travel. Groups are limited in size for the most personal experience.
Programs can be scheduled to meet your travel plans. Send us your available dates.
Designers, retailers, wholesalers, universities and other organizations come to us to develop weaving relationships, customized itineraries, study abroad programs, meetings and conferences. It's our pleasure to make arrangements.
Select Clients *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
Tell us how we can put a program together for you! Send an email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Handwoven Basket Fair: San Juan Guelavia, Oaxaca
Today was the first of two Sundays when the Zapotec village of San Juan Guelavia holds its annual basket fair. Next Sunday, February 2, is the last day. They open in the compact zocalo at 9 a.m. By the time we got there, close to noon, there wasn’t much left. Before I could say basket, two that caught my eye were snatched up from under my outstretched arm.
The bamboo used to make the baskets is picked young and green, much easier to manipulate. Then, it is washed and stripped. After the basket is complete, the sturdy handles are wrapped with palm leaves. Most of the Zapotec women in the central valleys of Oaxaca prefer these baskets for daily shopping use. The handle fits easily over the crook of the elbow, is smooth and comfortable.
Both men and women are basket weavers. They are also makers of corn husk flowers, lamp shades, bird cages, decorative woven bottle coverings, and traditional storage baskets for maize.
Some of the workmanship is so fine, one wonders how fingers can weave the course strips of bamboo, let alone strip the cane and prepare it for the weaving process. The basket I bought is above, left, held by the weaver who made it. He was happy and so was I.
Basketmaking in San Juan Guelavia, Oaxaca is a craft in decline and I have included this link to an academic paper that references San Juan Guelavia and their struggle to keep this craft tradition alive.
I hope you get to the Feria (fair) next Sunday. I paid 140 pesos for a beautiful handmade basket, quite large. That’s about $11 USD. A day’s wage here in Oaxaca. Who knows how long it took to make! Looks like more than a day to me. A basket this size for sale at the Tlacolula market would cost double the price, maybe more, and still a bargain at that!
Boys at play while parents shop
In addition to the baskets, there is lots of home-style cooked food like quesadillas, tamales, and hot steamed corn-on-the-cob. Come and linger.
Where to Find San Juan Guelavia: From Oaxaca City, take any bus or colectivo taxi heading to Tlacolula or Mitla. Get off at the San Juan Guelavia crossroads (which is about 1/2 mile before you get to Teotitlan del Valle, and maybe five miles beyond El Tule). There are village taxis and tuk-tuks that will take you along the beautiful curving road that leads to the village, set about three miles off the Panamerican Highway 190, nestled in the rolling foothills of the Sierra Madre del Sur.
Posted in Cultural Commentary, Oaxaca Mexico art and culture, Textiles, Tapestries & Weaving
Tagged bamboo, baskets, cane, fair, Mexico, Oaxaca, sale, San Juan Guelavia, weaving