Tag Archives: Embroidery

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

Bucket List Tour: Monarch Butterflies + Michoacan

February 5 – 13, 2023 – 9 days, 8 nights

I never knew that visiting the Monarch butterflies in Mexico should have been on my bucket list until I got there. Tucked into the mountainous forests of Estado de Mexico is the terminus of the butterfly migration from North America where the noble Monarchs winter and reproduce. The experience is mystical, magical, life-affirming and memorable. I’ve always felt that being here is one of those moments that inspire and validate our existence on the planet, and gives us pause to appreciate the constant cycle of nature at its most magnificent.

But this is not all! After this first part of our tour, we travel to the magical craft and folk art towns of Michoacan, including Morelia, San Juan Capula, Patzcuaro and the indigenous Purepecha towns surrounding Lake Patzcuaro. We meet with famous artisans and those off-the-beaten path whose work is recognized as Grand Masters of Mexican Folk Art by Fundacion Banamex. We meet weavers, potters, embroiderers, mask-makers, coppersmiths. We explore in safety and security, led by a local guide whom I know very well. We NEVER take you into any locations that are dangerous or threatening.

This tour is limited to 12 travelers. We have five single rooms and 4 shared rooms available.

Here is our preliminary itinerary:

Day 1, Sunday, February 5: Fly to Mexico City and check in to our comfortable hotel located near the Zocalo, the historic Aztec archeological site Templo Mayor, and excellent restaurants. Day and evening on your own.

Day 2, Monday, February 6: After breakfast, welcome and orientation, join us for a walking tour of Mexico City that includes stops at Bellas Artes and Museo Franz Mayer. Afternoon on your own. Group Gala Welcome dinner. (Breakfast and dinner included. Lunch on your own.)

Day 3, Tuesday, February 7: After early breakfast, we load luggage onto the van and leave CDMX for the town of Angangueo. Here we visit San Felipe de los Alzati, and the archeological site of Zirahuato, When we arrive, we enjoy a walking tour in Angangueo and check in to our hotel. Overnight in Angangueo. (Breakfast and lunch included. Dinner on your own.)

Those orange things are butterflies, waking up to the sun

Day  4, Wednesday, February 8:  After breakfast, we pack up again and travel to El Rosario Monarch Reserve in the Sierra Chincua to observe the winter home of the majestic Monarchs. In late afternoon, we get back on the van to travel to the historic colonial city of Morelia, capital of Michoacan. Overnight in Morelia. (Breakfast and lunch included. Dinner on your own.)

Day 5, Thursday, February 9: Orientation walking tour in the Historical area of Morelia.  We have lunch together and then you have the rest of the afternoon and evening to explore at your leisure. (Breakfast and lunch included. Dinner on your own.) Overnight in Morelia.

Morelia at night

Day 6, Friday, February 10: We leave Morelia for Patzcuaro after breakfast, making a stop in San Juan Capula to visit the town where ceramic Catrina figures captivate collectors’ attention. We arrive in Patzcuaro, check in to our comfortable hotel and participate in an orientation walking tour of the historic town. Overnight in Patzcuaro. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.)

Painted lacquer gourds, a Michoacan specialty

Day 7, Saturday, February 11: After breakfast, we explore the artisan towns around Lake Patzcuaro, including Tupataro, Cuanajo, Santa Clara and Tzintzuntzan. Overnight in Patzcuaro. (Breakfast and lunch included. Dinner on your own.)

Day 8, Sunday, February 12: After breakfast, you have the day to yourself. Maybe you want to revisit sites around town or hire a private taxi to take you back to one of the artisan villages. We join together in early evening for a Grand Finale Dinner. (Breakfast and dinner included. Overnight in Patzcuaro.

Day 9: Monday, February 13: Transfer to the Mexico City airport. You may also choose to depart to Morelia airport or Guadalajara airport. Airport transportation is on your own. We will help you make arrangements. Breakfast included.

Cost:

Shared Room: $3,360 each person, two beds

Single Room: $3,985 one person, one bed

Non-Refundable Deposit to Reserve: $500.

About your Oaxaca Cultural Navigator 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. 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 Schafer, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC founder, will accompany this group.

What is Included:

  • 8  nights lodging
  • 8  breakfasts
  • 5  lunches
  • 3 dinners
  • Snacks
  • Expert bilingual guide services
  • Museums and archeological site admissions
  • Luxury van transportation
  • An educational experience of a lifetime

What is NOT Included:

  • Airplane tickets
  • Required international travel insurance
  • In-country COVID test
  • Required vaccines, PPE and hand-sanitizer
  • Any meals, snacks and taxis not specified in the itinerary
  • All alcoholic beverages, tips for guides and services, and personal purchases

Reservations and Cancellations.  A $500 non-refundable deposit is required to guarantee your spot. You can make your reservation deposit using one of the following (please tell us which payment method you prefer):

  1. Zelle bank transfer with no service fee
  2. PayPal request for funds with a 3% service fee
  3. Venmo request for funds with a 3% service fee

The balance is due in two equal payments. The second payment of 50% of the balance is due on or before September 15, 2022. The third payment is due on or before December 1, 2022. We accept payment using online e-commerce only. We will send you an itemized invoice when you tell us you are ready to register. After December 1, 2022, there are no refunds. If you cancel on or before December 1, we will refund 50% of your deposit received to date less the $500 non-refundable deposit. After that, there are no refunds. If we cancel for whatever reason, you will receive a full refund. 

The tour and COVID-19: Many believe that the epidemic is waning, however, data say otherwise. The virus continues to mutate. You are required to be FULLY VACCINATED to participate. Fully vaccinated is defined as all vaccinations required by the CDC including boosters. You must send Proof of Vaccination (this includes all boosters) by email on or before December 1, 2022.  You can take a photo of the documentation and email it to us. All participants are required to wear N95 OR KN95 face masks when visiting artisans and it is strongly suggested that you use the mask when you are in crowds of people or indoors. We also use hand-sanitizer and practice social distancing while together. Please note: You MUST also provide proof of international travel insurance including $50,000 of emergency medical evacuation coverage. 

Registration Form

Complete the form and Send an email to Norma Schafer.

Tell us if you want a shared/double room or a private/single room and how you want to make your deposit

Who Should Attend • Anyone who wants a bucket-list experience, who is interested in indigenous culture and creativity, who wants a deep immersion experience into textile practices and traditions, and who appreciates artisan craft — weaving, embroidery, pottery. If you are a collector, come with us to go deep and find the best artisans. If you are a photographer or artist, come with us for inspiration. If you are an online retailer, come with us to buy and find the stories to market what you sell.

To Register, Policies, Procedures & Cancellations–Please Read

All documentation for plane reservations, required travel insurance, and personal health issues must be received by December 1,  2022 or we reserve the right to cancel your registration without reimbursement.

Terrain, Walking and Group Courtesy: While we are primarily transported by van, there will be some walking/hiking in the butterfly sanctuary and as we walk in towns and villages. In addition, many streets and sidewalks are cobblestones, narrow and uneven. We will do a lot of walking. We recommend you bring a walking stick and wear sturdy shoes.

If you have mobility issues or health/breathing impediments, please consider that this may not be the study tour for you.

Traveling with a small group has its advantages and also means that independent travelers will need to make accommodations to group needs and schedule. Adaptability, flexibility and respectfulness are essential. We encourage a no-whining attitude. There is adequate free time to go off on your own if you wish.

Francisca’s French Knot Blouses + Rosario’s Embroidered Shoulder Bags: Holiday Shopping

Just in time for the holidays! Colorful hand-embroidered blouses and shoulder bags from Mexico, yours to gift or for festive wearing during the next few weeks and beyond.

Francisca is an expert in embroidered blouses using the French Knot technique. She lives in Aguacatenango, a small Chiapas village about an hour-and-a-half from San Cristobal de las Casas. I met her in the plaza some years back during one of our Chiapas textile study tours (there is one space open in the March 8-16, 2022 tour). Her work was far and away the best quality of all the women there, with dense embroidery, all hand-finished seams (no machine stitching in this garment), and 100% Mexican cotton cloth called manta. During Covid, when there were no tourists (and there aren’t that many now, either), I began to order blouses from her to help the family earn income. She sent me this group of all LONG SLEEVE blouses to Oaxaca and I brought them back in my luggage.

The blouses are perfect for winter in southern climates. In the colder north, layer a white HeatTec t-shirt underneath for warmth.

Rosario is a friend from Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca. I asked her to start making these colorful embroidered shoulder bags last year, also during covid. Her family lives in a humble, concrete block house ringed by a dirt patio. In the traditional way, she cooks outside on the comal — making tortillas, tamales, beans and squash — the staples of campesinos throughout Mexico. The bags are lined, have an interior pocket and zippered closure. They are fun to wear daily or make a delightful, whimsical addition to any festive occasion.

Ethical sourcing and fair trade. I pay both these women outright for what I order at the price they ask. No bargaining! No questions asked. The money goes in their pockets immediately and we can all feel better that we are supporting women and Mexican artisan craft. Francisca told me she can only make two blouses a month! It takes Rosario a month to embroider the pieces to make eight bags. They are embroidered front and back.

How to buymailto:norma.schafer@icloud.com Tell me the item you want by number. Send me your mailing address. I will send you a PayPal invoice after you ID your choices. The invoice will include the cost of the garment + $12 mailing. If you want more than one piece, I’m happy to combine mailing. I’ll be mailing from Taos, NM. Next day mailing guarantee if you order and buy before December 10. On December 11, I’m in transit to return to Oaxaca.

Blouse details:

Size Medium/Large has an embroidered bodice that is 14” wide. Sleeve is 21” long from shoulder to cuff. (Longer sleeves this time!) 27” wide armpit to armpit. 28-1/2” long from shoulder to hem. $125 each.

Size Large/Extra Large has an embroidered bodice that is 16” wide. Sleeve is 21” long from shoulder to cuff. 29” wide armpit to armpit. 28-1/2” long from shoulder to hem. $135 each.

Care Instructions: Wash in cold water on delicate cycle in washing machine using a mild soap like Fels Naptha or baby shampoo. Do not use Woolite. Hang to dry. Use medium-hot iron to press. Or, dry clean.

SOLD. 1A. Black. Size L-XL. $135
SOLD. 1. Blue, size M-L. $125

SOLD 2. Blue, size L-XL.$135

Shown with Rosario’s shoulder bag.

#3 Purple, size M-L. $125

SOLD. 4 Purple, size L-XL. $135

#5 Purple, size L-XL. $135

SOLD. #6. Red. Size M-L. $125

SOLD. 7. Red. Size L-XL. $135

Bag Details:

Each bag is about 10” wide x 9” high and has a 44” strap that easily works as a cross-body bag.

#8. $50
#9. $50

#10. $35

#11. $50
#12. $35
#13. $50
#15. $50
#16. $50.
17. $50

Rosario’s Bolsas: Embroidered Oaxaca Shoulder Bags

Rosario is my Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, friend who is an excellent embroiderer. I asked her to make more shoulder bags to send to me to offer to you. The dimensions are similar for all of them:

  • The bag is 8″x10″ (Because they are handmade, there is some variance.)
  • The shoulder strap is 43″ long. Use as a shoulder or cross-body bag.
  • They are lined and have an inside pocket.
  • The zipper is sturdy and easy to use.
  • The floral motif is carried over from front to back.
  • The embroidery is dense and detailed.
  • Each bag costs $58 plus $12 mailing. Total is $70. We can combine orders.

To Buy: Please email me norma.schafer@icloud.com with your name, mailing address, item number and your payment preference. I will mark it SOLD. You can purchase using Venmo, Zelle, or PayPal. I will send you account information when you tell me you are ready to purchase.

I’ve known Rosario for years. She comes from a humble family that works hard to make ends meet. I have encouraged her to develop her sewing and needlework skills, and give her a new sewing machine a couple of year ago to help her sew dresses and blouses and to make these bags.

Thank you for supporting this handwork. It’s not too early, either, to start thinking about the season of gift giving and how special a handmade gift from Oaxaca would be!

Oaxaca Hand-embroidered Shoulder Bags SOLD OUT

SOLD OUT. I will reorder these. Thanks so much!

I love this bag style. I’ve been using one like these for walks, hikes, and just everyday wear for the last year-and-a-half. It’s functional and versatile and colorful and cheerful. Just about everything fits — a coin purse, credit cards, lipstick, pen and notebook, hand sanitizer and alcohol spray, lipstick and moisturizer, kleenex, and even pepper spray — just in case!

So, before I moved from Durham to Taos, I designed and commissioned my Teotitlan del Valle friend and sewist/embroiderer Rosario to make 10 bags that Janet brought with her from Oaxaca. They got packed away for the move and now, I’ve unearthed them and they are for sale here.

Each bag is durable and one-of-a-kind. They are cotton, lined, have an inside pocked, a zipper closure, a 41″ cross-body shoulder strap. They can be washed inside-out in the washing machine on gentle cycle. Each bag body is approximately 9″x 9-1/4″ in size. Priced at $45 each. Buy 2 for $80.

Remember, these are hand-made and there may be slight imperfections. All sales are final. No exchanges or refunds.

How to Buy:  Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, mailing address and item number. Tell me if you want to purchase with PayPal, Venmo, Zelle or Square. I will mark your choice(s) SOLD, send you a payment link and add $12 for cost of mailing.