Tag Archives: handwoven purses

You Can’t Make a Silk Purse Out of a Sow’s Ear

I’m not sure about that! Oaxaqueno artists are VERY creative. In Teotitlan del Valle and throughout the Oaxaca Valley master weavers produce extraordinary art pieces that are created from the mere fibers of sheep wool and cotton plants. Designs are intricately detailed, as you can see below. And, even the smallest piece can take hours to create. The detail of the shoulder bag (below left) is in the saltillo weaving style that employs 22 threads per inch. This piece is a combination of naturally dyed wool and silk weft on a cotton warp. Mendoza Purse, Teotitlan del Valle

Mendoza Purse, detail

The red piece below is produced on a backstrap loom in the village of Santo Tomas Jalieza, a village off the main road to Ocotlan. It is a must stop, even if you only have time to spend 30 minutes at the central market. Backstrap weaving is women’s work, something Zapotecs have been doing for over 6,000 years. Look at the fine detail of this all cotton shoulder/book bag. It is s very sturdy weave. Love birds and feathered dancers are common images. Look for pieces that are tightly woven using fine threads. They will cost more but endure longerSanto Tomas Jalieza Purse, backstrap loom.

These pieces are in my personal collection.

The bag on the right (above) is a fine tapestry weave created by Josefina Mendoza. I took the piece to Luis and Licha at Casa Santiago on Ave. Benito Juarez in Teotitlan and asked them to add a long leather strap and leather gusset. Their leather craftsmanship is exceptional.

The handbag shown below (left) is a very small over-the-shoulder mini-pouch made on a backstrap loom in Jalieza. It is a much finer “sister” to the one shown above left. You can see the detail of the weaving patterns … 3 designs to the row instead of 2 with a lot of intricacy. The bag with the geometric design next to it is 100% silk, and the center wavy row is embellished with silver threads … yes, real silver. I love these two really small bags … they are perfect for holding ID, coins, bills, and a credit card or two.

Small bag, 5\