Tag Archives: folk art

Deep Into the Mixteca Alta: Oaxaca Textile + Folk Art Study Tour

5 nights, 6 days, March 7-12, 2024

We go deep into the Mixteca Alta, a mountainous region of the Sierra Madre del Sur in the north of Oaxaca state that is situated between the capital city and the Oaxaca coast. Home to Mixtec-speaking people and other language groups (among them Chatino, Zapotec, Triqui). This tour will explore the predominantly Mixtec pueblos situated a few hours northwest of the city, her history, landscape, and handcrafts including textiles, ceramic, and palm weaving. This will be our first offering of this destination which is far off-the-beaten-path where tourists don’t usually travel. Nestled in the folds of the mountain range are villages that are still making utilitarian and beautiful objects just as they have for centuries.

Wintering in Oaxaca? Wrap up your stay with this adventure into the Mixteca Alta!

We are going to an important Oaxaca source for basket weaving, back-strap loom weaving, silk cultivation, and pottery. We invite you to round out your knowledge of Oaxaca beyond the central valleys of the Zapotec capital to learn more about some of the 16 diverse indigenous groups that inhabit the state.

Our road into the mountains will be winding and there are distances to travel. Some days, we may be in the van for an hour or two at a time. While we won’t do a lot of walking or hiking on this route, we ask that you be travel-ready with stamina for a road trip and an unparalleled adventure.

Day 1, Thursday, March 7: Arrive in Oaxaca city, lodging in the city one night. Overnight: Oaxaca City.  Meals included: none

Day 2, Friday, March 8: Today, we get on the road first to visit Santo Domingo Yanhuitlan convent and learn about its history. This imposing structure was built just 20 years after the conquest in the 16th Century by the Dominican order atop an important Mixtec temple site – a trading center, religious and cultural hub for the region.

Then, we explore Geopark Mixteca Alta, which is considered to be the most geologically complex region of Mexico. This community project is part of the UNESCO Global Geopark system and showcases the biodiversity and amazing landscape formed by erosion and layers of million-year-old rocks caused by the interaction between nature and society.

Here, amid this beautiful landscape we find a workshop of traditional potters in the town of Tonaltepec that use natural fermentation inks from barks of the local trees to create a special decoration on the pottery pieces made here. Lunch with the family.

Overnight in Tlaxiaco. Meals included: Breakfast, lunch

How to Register:  First, complete the Registration Form and send it to us and tell us which payment method you want to us to make your deposit.

To Register, Policies, Procedures & Cancellations–Please Read

Day 3, Saturday, March 9: This is market day in Tlaxiaco and we will get there early, right after breakfast. This is the largest market of the region, where artisans come to sell palm weavings, textiles, leather work and ceramics. After wandering the market and lunch, we travel to San Andres Chicahuaxtla, where we will meet a cooperative of Triqui pueblo weavers who specialize in supplementary weft and very fine gauze weaving techniques on a back strap loom. On our way back to Tlaxiaco, we will stop in Santa Maria Cuquila to meet a cooperative of weavers who specialize in creating traditional huipiles with back strap looms.

Overnight: Tlaxiaco. Meals included: Breakfast and lunch

Day 4, Sunday, March 10: A place I’ve always wanted to go! Come with us to El Porvenir, San Pablo Tijaltepec to meet a collective of embroiderers. They specialize in the technique of smocking that produces whimsical figures depicting wildlife and barnyard animals on the bodice design. After lunch with this group, we travel on to San Mateo Peñasco, where we will learn about the silk production. The town traditionally supplies cultivated silk to the coastal weavers of the Mixteca Baja. Silk, a protein-based fiber, absorbs cochineal, caracol purpura and indigo like none other!

Overnight in Tlaxiaco. Meals included: Breakfast, lunch

Day 5, Monday, March 11:

After a leisurely breakfast, we return to Oaxaca city where you will have the afternoon on your own, but along the way we stop in Nochixtlan for lunch and market day. Gather in the evening for a Gala Grand Finale Dinner at a highly-rated city restaurant.

Overnight: Oaxaca City. Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 6. Tuesday, March 12: Return to your home countries or extend your trip in Oaxaca on your own.

Travel Day. Meals included: None

Note: Schedule is preliminary and is subject to change throughout our tour, depending on artisan availability, etc.

What Is Included

  • 5 nights lodging at top-rated hotels
  • 4 breakfasts
  • 4 lunches
  • Grand Finale Gala Dinner in Oaxaca City
  • Museum and park entry fees
  • Luxury van transportation
  • Complete guide and translation services

The tour does NOT include airfare, taxes, tips, travel insurance, liquor or alcoholic beverages, some meals, and local transportation as specified in the itinerary. We reserve the right to substitute artisans, guides, and alter the program as needed.

Cost • $2,395 double room with private bath (sleeps 2) • $2,995 single room with private bath (sleeps 1)

Reservations and Cancellations.  A $500 non-refundable deposit is required to guarantee your spot. The balance is due in two equal payments. The second payment of 50% of the balance is due on or before October 15, 2023. The third 50% payment of the balance is due on or before January 7, 2024. 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 January 7, 2024, there are no refunds. If you cancel on or before January 7, we will refund 50% of your deposit received to date less the $500 non-refundable reservation deposit. After that, there are no refunds.

If we cancel for whatever reason, we will offer a 100% refund of all amounts received to date, less the non-refundable deposit.

All documentation for plane reservations, required travel insurance, and personal health issues must be received 45 days before the program start or we reserve the right to cancel your registration without reimbursement.

NOTE: All travelers must provide proof of vaccination for COVID-19 and bring 6 antigen testing kits to travel with and test along the way. You must also wear CDC-approved face masks, use hand-sanitizer, and maintain all public health precautions as requested.

How to Register:  First, complete the Registration Form and send it to us. We will then send you an invoice to make your reservation deposit.

To Register, Policies, Procedures & Cancellations–Please Read

Terrain, Walking and Group Courtesy: The Mixteca Alta is almost 7,000 feet high. To get there, one must ascend secondary roads that are paved yet winding. We will do some walking in the villages and in the Geopark. If you have motion sickness, please bring medication and ginger chews. We rotate seating on the van to give everyone a chance to sit up front! We recommend you bring a walking stick and wear sturdy shoes.

NOTE: If you have mobility issues or health/breathing impediments, please consider that this may not be the program 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. We include plenty of free time to go off on your own if you wish.

Mexico Folk Art Whimsies Sale

I might be able to get these to you by Christmas if you order by tomorrow—though no guarantees! Depending on the USPS. This a mix of pottery, alebrijes, exvotos, holiday attire, and more — most never before offered.

How to Buy: Send an email to norma.schafer@icloud.comand tell me the item(s) you want to purchase by number, your email, your mailing address, your phone number, and which payment method you prefer: 1) Zelle bank transfer with no service fee; 2) Venmo or 3) PayPal each with a 3% service fee. I will send you a request for funds and then add on a mailing fee depending on the size box needed. Happy to combine shipping if you buy more than one piece. These are one-of-a-kind. Note: Thank you for understanding that all sales are final. Please measure carefully.

#1. Hand-painted pottery candlesticks from Amantenango, Chiapas. Quack Quack, add elegant whimsy to your holiday table setting. (Candles and drip protectors not included.) 9″ high x 7″ long. $185.

#2. Carved wood and painted alebrije from San Martin Tilcajete: Pregnant donkey piano player! 10″ high x 3-1/2″ wide. Signed Miguel Diaz. $125.

#3. Huichol string art wall-hanging. 6″ square. $60.

SOLD. #4. Howling Dog alebrije. Carved and painted copal wood from Candido Perez, San Martin Tilcajete. 12″ high x 12″ long to tip of tail. Tail has been repaired, but not noticeable. $72.

#5. Casildo Rodriguez is grateful he escaped his fate in Oaxaca by making an offering of this retablo or ex-voto. His donkey turned into a monster! Hand-painted ex-voto on metal, reproduction, by contemporary Mexico City artist Rafael Rodriguez. 12″ wide x 9-1/2″ high. $125.

#6. Frida Kahlo Catrina hand-painted pottery sculpture. Perfect for next Day of the Dead or whenever! 8-1/2″ high x 3″ wide at the base. $85.

SOLD. #7. Tzintzuntzan, Lake Patzcuaro, Michoacan, intricate embroidery shirt telling the story of daily life of farmers and fishermen around the lake. By famed textile artisan Teofila Servin Barriga. Measures 22″ wide x 26″ long. Sleeves are 24-1/2″ long from the shoulder seam. Price reduced from $275 to $185.

#8. Hand-painted enamel gourd from Oaxaca, perfect for holiday serving — fruit, bread, chocolate, candy, crackers — you name it. Add pizzaz to your table! $56

#9. Embroidered in Zinacantan, Chiapas, a bodice filled with flowers. Tuck it in to a skirt, jeans, slacks for bling dressing this season. 23″ wide x 29″ long. $65.

#10. Hand-woven palm basket from Oaxaca’s Mixtec region. So many possible uses: hold towel, bath tissue, winter scarves, hats and gloves, magazines, laundry, etc. 14″ high x 12″ wide. $62.

#11. Rare Vintage Ex-voto from the 1930’s. Hand-painted on tin. A true folk art find that I’m willing to part with from my collection. 11″ wide x 6-1/2″ high. $295.

SOLD. #12. Hand-carved and painted mask from Tocuaro, Michoacan. The best of Mexico’s mask-makers live here! Signed Felipe Horta. Masks were used in pre-Hispanic times for religious ceremonies and the traditions continue today. Measures 12″ high x 12″ wide. $145.

#13. Rare Vintage Ex-voto from Cholula, Puebla, “Thanksgiving” or Accion de Gracias. Circa 1930’s. 11″ wide x 8″ high. $295.

A word about Ex-Votos: Mexico’s ex-votos (also called retablos) are naive folk art that tell a story of thanksgiving and prayers for being saved from near-death or disaster. Usually the person who escaped tragedy would hire a local primitive artist to pain a tin square depicting the scene. The message of thanks may have included many misspellings, as the painters were not educated. They often include depictions of the saint to whom they are giving thanks. Original ex-votos were taken to a nearby shrine where the person, with hammer and nail, would affix the small painting to a tree, post, or altar. Hence, vintage ex-votos usually have a crude hole in the top center of the plaque.

#14. Francisca Blouse, Purple Haze. 100% cotton and made by hand in Aguacatenango, Chiapas, by our friend Francisca. The bodice is covered in intricate French knots. All by hand–no machine work here! Size Large. Measures 17″ wide from shoulder seam to shoulder seam, and 28″ long. Sleeves are 3/4 length. $125.

Sunday Specials: Take 20% Off Mexican Textiles+Folk Art

It’s Post-Black Friday and I continue to review my collection and offer some of these treasures to you. Most of these pieces are new, purchased from the makers when I visited their villages. My tendency is to buy to support the makers.

TAKE 20% OFF ALL LISTED PRICES BELOW. See post from November 27 for MORE.

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 and all sales done until April 2022, unless you want me to mail from Oaxaca!

Why buy a made-by-hand item? Since I buy directly from artisans and pay them outright, your purchases, in effect are a direct benefit to those makers. Most are women whose families have suffered from lack of tourism during covid. Most live in rural areas of Oaxaca far from the tourist centers. The men in their families are subsistence farmers and have no market for their crops other than to put basic food on the table: corn, beans, squash. The rest of their needs come from the work that women do — the weaving, bead making, sewing, etc. Rural Mexico is based on a cash economy.

So, thanks so much for your help and support. Happy Holidays.

#1128.1 — Fancy apron, size small, San Miguel del Valle, Oaxaca. Shoulder to hem measures 29” and side to side across front is 21” wide. Free-form machine embroidered. $95
SOLD #1128.2 Hand-woven wool tote bag/overnight bag/shopping bag with zipper closure, lined with interior pockets, sturdy leather straps. All natural dyes. 13” x 17” with 3” gusset. I watch them make these in Teotitlan del Valle — perfect in every way. $175.
#1128.3 — Woven wool and cotton shawl or throw dyed with wild marigold flowers in San Pablo Villa de Mitla by my friend Arturo. Wool weft/cotton warp. Cozy and soft. 18” wide x 78” long. $95.
SOLD. #1128.4 Multi-strand, multi-colored beaded necklace from San Juan Chamula, Chiapas. All the ladies adorn themselves in these fanciful necklaces and the fashion has migrated to other villages surrounding San Cristobal de las Casas. Adjustable ties. $65
SOLD #1128.5. Coconut shells and cacao bean necklace from the tropical east coast of Mexico near Veracruz. Strung on a sturdy, adjustable cord. Set your own length! $53
#1128.6 100% soft wool shawl or throw made by my friend Arturo in Mitla. Call it what you will: window panes, hop scotch, grid design created with cochineal natural dye and natural white wool. Hand-knotted fringes. 27” wide x 70” long. $125
#1128.7 Asymmetrical graduated necklace with all handmade matte black clay beads from San Bartolo Coyotepec, Oaxaca. Front closure features a dangling carved ball embellished with flowers and leaves. 21” long. Use it as a layering piece. Stunning alone or with sterling silver chain. $135
SOLD #1128.8. Top. Embroidered floral face mask with gold tones. Protect yourself in hand-made style. $18 and SOLD #1128.9 Bottom. Embroidered floral mask with peach tones. $18
SOLD #1128.10. Ruby red beaded necklace from Chiapas. Adjustable tie. $55
#1128.11. Natural colored coconut shell and cacao bean necklace from the Veracruz region of Mexico. Sturdy adjustable cord. $48
SOLD #1128.12. Cherry red amber expandable bracelet from Simojovel, Chiapas. This color amber is rare. One size fits most. $65
SOLD 1128.13 Another terrific Holiday Red beaded necklace from Chiapas. Adjustable tie neck. $55.
SOLD #1128.14 Backstrap loom woven hat band, made in Chiapas. $35
#1128.15 Nuts and cinnamon sticks necklace. $20
#1128.16. Hat band woven on the back strap loom in Chiapas, Mexico. $35

Mexico Home Decor Collectibles Sale

Today, we are featuring three Ex-Votos, whimsical folk art paintings on metal. The vintage ones were painted on tin or whatever found materials the naive, untrained artist could find. They were offered at shrines and spiritual places for life-saving thanksgiving. I have one vintage piece for sale below. The other two are reproductions painted by Mexico City artist Rodriguez. Plus, hearts and mirrors, and more. 19 pieces total.

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, mailing address and item number. I will mark it SOLD, send you a PayPal link to purchase and add $12 for cost of mailing. Please DO NOT SELECT buying goods or services at check-out. We also accept Venmo and Zelle. I can send you a Square invoice (+3% fee) if you don’t use PayPal. All sales final.

19-3/4″ wide x 9-1/2″ tall. Reproduction ex-voto by Mexico City artist Rafael Rodriguez. $165

“Pascual Ortiz al estar trepado en la locomotora me calli de tatema y casi me la rompo y dedico esta laminita. Chihuahua a 4 de octubre 1937.”

Vintage rare ex-voto, 10″ w x 8-1/2″ tall. Was $595. Now $295

It says: Gracias a la virgencita y el niño por senar a mi hijo enfermo de Tifoidea a anto de morir. El sans infinitamente agracidas. (signed) Lupe Ma. Miraflores Lopez, Chapala, Jalisco. (Thanks to the little virgin and her son for saving my son from typhoid before he died. He is infinitely thankful.) Measures 10-1/4″ x 8-1/2″

SOLD. Set of 3 Zapatista wall plaques, Chiapas. 4-1/4″ high x 6″ wide. $25
Venustiano Perez dedicates this ex-voto, 9-1/2″ wide x 7-1/2″ tall. Oaxaca 1938. $145

“Venustiano Perez dedica esta laminata por salvarme de una alimaña bien grandota. Oaxaca a 23 de Abril de 1938.” Reproduction by Mexico City artist Rafael Rodriguez.

SOLD. Happy Valentine’s Day: Oaxaca wood + gold leaf heart. 6-1/2″ w x 8-1/2″ tall. $45
SOLD. Happy Valentine’s Day. Oaxaca tin heart mirror. 4×5″ $10
SOLD. Rare Zegache carved wood + silver leaf mirror, 6×6″ round $75

Zegache is the workshop founded by Rodolfo Morales in Santa Ana Zegache near his home in Ocotlan. It was a training ground for woodworkers to create pieces in the style of the European colonial church decor with hand-carved pieces embellished with paint and either gold or silver leaf. The technique was used in the restoration of several churches funded by the Morale Foundation. These pieces are no longer being made. They are wonderful, reflective wall decor for any room.

SOLD. Zegache rare hand-carved wood with gold and silver leaf, 6″ round. $75

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, mailing address and item number. I will mark it SOLD, send you a PayPal link to purchase and add $12 for cost of mailing. Please DO NOT SELECT buying goods or services at check-out. We also accept Venmo and Zelle. I can send you a Square invoice (+3% fee) if you don’t use PayPal. All sales final.

SOLD. Chiapas, hand-wrought iron mirror, 7×9″ $55
Huichol yarn art on wood, 6″ square. $75

Beautifully rendered, this yarn “painting” by the Mexican Huichol tribe from Nayarit depicts reverence for corn, the harvest and the spiritual, healing properties of peyote.

Chiapas, Los Leñateros paper mask. 10×9″ $40

Los Leñateros is the hand-made paper studio in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, where artisans make art books, boxes, and picture frames from recycled paper. They use a stationery bicycle to power the paper shredding and then put the paper mixed with flowers and seeds into bins to process. Sometimes, they create these colorful hanging masks that twirl in the breeze.

SOLD. Oaxaca painted gourd bowl. 2-3/4″ tall x 5″ diameter. $45

This piece reminds me of aboriginal painting from Australia or the pointillist style of the French Impressionists. It is from the studio of Arrazola artist Bertha Cruz Morales. Great for serving dried nuts.

SOLD. Is it an anteater? Chiapas miniature stuffed animal. $25

Gosh! Isn’t s/he cute? Hand-woven wool and embroidery is used to fashion this precious stuffed animal made in San Juan Chamula, Chiapas.

SOLD. Reindeer with red eyes. 3″ long x7″tall. $25

Oh, this one is made from handwoven natural sheep wool. Antlers are wrapped in shimmering gray yarn. Red embroidery outlines the black eyes and of course, there is a black nose just waiting to nuzzle you. Beautifully crafted.

What About These RUGS? When you purchase, you are supporting the weaver. Help me send funds back to Oaxaca with your purchase.

Indigo ikat + zapote negro, 22×33″. $295 $275
Cochineal, indigo, marigold, pomegranate, 23×23″ $195 $175
Indigo, cochineal, pomegranate dyed wool, 23×23″ $195 $175

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, mailing address and item number. I will mark it SOLD, send you a PayPal link to purchase and add $12 for cost of mailing. Please DO NOT SELECT buying goods or services — so we don’t pay commissions. We also accept Venmo and Zelle. I can send you a Square invoice (+3% fee) if you don’t use PayPal. All sales final.

Mexico Art Show Brings Oaxaca Artisans to Lake Chapala, Jalisco–Party Time

The 18th annual Feria Maestros del Arte happened last weekend at Lake Chapala, Jalisco, about 40-minutes from Guadalajara. I had never been before and I decided it was time! Plus, it gave me a chance to spend some time with friends Chris and Ben, who moved to Ajijic from North Carolina last year.

Estela Montaño with natural dyed wool pillow cover

I knew that Oaxaca would be well-represented among the 87 artisans participating. I was especially eager to see Teotitlan del Valle weaving friends Estella Montaño and Family, and mother-son team Maria de Lourdes Lazo Sosa and Isaac Armando Lazo.

Maria de Lourdes and son Isaac from Teotitlan del Valle

And, there was another good friend, flying shuttle loom weaver Alfredo Hernandez Orozco with his son Yaolt, who make extraordinary cotton cloth home goods and clothing. Their workshop is in El Tule.

Yaolt and his dad, Alfredo, accomplished fly shuttle loom weavers

There were other Oaxaca artisans whose work I know and respect: alebrijes makers, ceramic artists and sculptors, basket weavers, and some very fine clothing weavers from remote areas of the Oaxaca coast and Mixe regions. Many of these are included on our Oaxaca Discovery Tour coming up at the end of January 2020 (yes, a few spaces are available).

Fine, back-strap loomed cotton blusa, San Juan Cotzocon
Women who make red clay pottery, San Marcos Tlapazola
Zeny Fuentes and Family, San Martin Tilcajete
Hand-woven palm necklace by Monica Diaz Martinez

An added bonus of going to the Fair was participating in events hosted by Los Amigos del Arte Popular. This is a non-profit group that supports Mexican folk art. They are appreciators and collectors, and do a lot to underwrite this Feria and provide scholarships for artisans to travel here.

Sally, Chris, Mariann, Norma, Ellen

I also had a chance to connect with friends Mariann who moved to Ajijic from Philadelphia, friend Ellen who comes to Oaxaca every winter, her sister Sally, and locals Elizabeth and Greg who live in Chapala. I also bumped into David and Barbara from San Diego, too.

Meat lovers’ paradise, ribs at Gosha’s, Ajijic, Jalisco
Lake Chapala from the Fair grounds

Unlike the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe that covers the world, this Fair reunites those of us with Mexico-LOVE. While I’m most happy living in Oaxaca, coming to the shores of Lake Chapala is a refreshing change of pace and a great party all the way around. I had to come home to rest!

A collector’s niche
Otomi embroidered wall hanging adds drama to bedroom
Papier-maché Virgin from developmentally challenged Chapala school for women
(R) Michoacan potter Guadalupe Garcia Rios in traditional Purepecha dress