Tag Archives: eco-tourism

Sleek, Functional Contemporary Oaxaca Pottery with Classical Influences: Innovating Tradition

Oaxaca’s cultural identity is defined, in part, by her ceramic arts. For thousands of years before the Spanish conquest, indigenous artisans were giving shape to local clay to form functional cooking and eating vessels, images of dieties for worship and jewelry for personal adornment.

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Now, after six years of operating from various temporary locations, La Tiendita del Barro/1050 grados and Innovando la Tradicion recently opened a gallery to promote its ceramic arts cooperative and new eco-tourism program. It is located at the corner of  plaza de la cruz de piedra, Rufino Tamayo 800-C and Xolotl, near the 16th century aqueducts and Calle Garcia Virgil.

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I want to say that this is social entrepreneurism, activist art. The program, developed by talented young Oaxaqueños, is committed to sustainable development.  Here you will find stunning pottery that satisfies both a classical and contemporary aesthetic. The work is sculptural and refined, smooth and simple. Emphasis is on form followed by function. The result is timeless beauty. The cookware and serving pieces are lead-free and can be used over a gas burner or in the oven.

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If you’ve never seen a Oaxaca potter at work, here’s a video of a traditional technique:

Rufina Ruiz haciendo una chilmolera from Innovando la Tradición on Vimeo.

Innovando la Tradicion is organizing half-day public tours to various villages, where visitors will meet potters, participate in hands-on demonstrations, and have an opportunity to buy directly from the artisans. Artisans receive 50% of the participant fees that go toward improving their workshop/studio space. The rest goes toward program administration.

                 Join Norma’s Pottery Tour with Innovando la Tradicion                                 Monday, January 5, 2015, Cost: 629 MXN pesos

I can’t participate in any of the January public programs already scheduled and I really want to go on this tour.  So, I’m inviting YOU to join me for a private tour on January 5.  Are you interested?  Send me an email. All the funds go directly to Innovando la Tradicion and I will send you registration information as soon as I hear from you!  Space for 5 people. Reserve before December 15.

1050 Mezcal Cups


Oaxaca Portrait Photography Workshop starts January 30. Join us!

Oaxaca’s Newest Eco-Tourism Destination: Teotitlan del Valle

Yesterday morning, Jan (pronounced Yahn, as in the Dutch version) and his grandson Damian, age eleven, rode over on their bicycles from the other side of town to deliver some indigo dyed cotton woven on a back-strap loom from Guatemala. I’m sewing a jacket for Janet, Jan’s wife and Damian’s grandmother, out of this cloth in trade for a beautiful piece of old skirt fabric Janet sourced some years ago from a trip there.  It was seven thirty in the morning.

Jan_Damion Bicycle

Beautiful day for a bike ride, Jan announced, as I came out to answer the bell on the front gate. Indeed, the sun was up, there was a breeze and it was still chilly. The day proved to warm up to ninety-three degrees fahrenheit, but he was right. It was a beautiful day at that moment.

Great bikes, I said. I borrowed mine, Jan said. We got Damian’s at the Teotitlan del Valle municipal museum. The bike costs three-hundred pesos a day to rent, and we got a multi-day price.  Comes with a helmet, too, Jan added.  I noticed the bike was a brand new Trek. Sweet. Damian had a huge grin on his face. He’s on vacation for a week.  Today, the family is up in the mountains for a few days with Bob and Jose, who also live here.  Jose offers guided trips, including visits to off-the-beaten path villages, and speaks fluent English.

I heard that there is a new plan to develop Teotitlan del Valle as an eco-tourism destination. In addition to the bicycle rentals, I’m told there will be paddle boats for rent at the reservoir above the village. Maybe they are there now!  Or, they will get there in time for the rainy season when the reservoir fills up.

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In the meantime, the all-terrain bikes give visitors and residents alike a great opportunity to explore some of the dirt roads and paths that go into the hills above the reservoir, as well as the workshops of weaving artisans who live along the bumpy cobblestone streets and unpaved roads that wind and twist through the village.

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Whether you come to Teotitlan del Valle for one day or several, this eco-tourism bicycling option gives you another view of a very special place.

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Other options include shopping at the daily village market, open from 8:30 to about 10:30 a.m., visiting the historic church and adjoining archeological site, using foot power to walk the trails instead of bike, birdwatching, eating at several great restaurants or drinking an espresso (three locations to choose from), and just getting away from the pace of the city. This is definitely the slow lane.

Want a self-guided map of Teotitlan? I offer a hand-drawn map for purchase that shows you the locations for the museum, church, reservoir, two comfortable B&B’s, and studios of several weavers who work in natural dyes. Contact me to order.


More Unfolds–Oaxaca Day of the Dead Documentary Photography Expedition 2011

We are fine-tuning the experience!  Two highlights to alert you about:  On All Saint’s Day Eve, we will start out for the Xoxocotlan cemetery in mid-afternoon to capture the final decorating of family gravesites as dusk settles and the world glows at that magic hour just before sunset.  On All Soul’s Day, each participant will be embedded with a Zapotec family in the village of Teotitlan del Valle to personally participate and document in family rituals as the spirits of loved ones who have returned to earth are guided back to their final resting place. This expedition will be an unforgettable experience!

Oaxaca Day of the Dead 2011 Photography Expedition