Here in Northern New Mexico the winds are gusting. While some of the early spring wildfires are contained, more are igniting, mostly from lightening strikes. Near Georgia O’Keeffe’s home in Abiquiu a new fire erupted in El Rito, a small mountain community about 30 miles from where I live. Scary stuff. Smoke obliterated the mountains and I had to wear a face mask in the car. The air smelled like a campfire. We are in severe drought conditions and global warming is taking its toll. A couple of weeks ago, an unusual early spring hurricane hit the Oaxaca coast hard. My friends reported lots of devastation. Climate change is wrecking havoc.
Meanwhile, I’m waiting for my small house to be completed on the Rio Grande Gorge. everything is delayed and costs have soared. It was supposed to be May, then amended to the end of June. I’m hoping for this so I can close, get my mortgage and return to Oaxaca in time for the Summer Textile Mountain Tour. Hoping this will happen, though not sure. (We can still register you — there are a few open spaces — register by June 20 and get 10% off!)
I’m still culling my collection and will continue to do so as I prepare for another move. Here are some wonderful pieces to offer to you today.
To Buy: Please send me an email with your name, email address, mailing address and include the Item Number you wish to purchase. We add $14 flat rate to mail and we are happy to combine orders in one shipment. Tell me if you want to pay with a Zelle transfer (no service fee) or use PayPal or Venmo (with a 3% service fee). For PayPal or Venmo, I will send you a request for funds. Thanks very much. -Norma
San Juan Colorado is up the mountain about an hour-and-half from Pinotepa Nacional along the Costa Chica. It’s at the end of the road, so secluded that the Spanish Conquest and proselytizing priests didn’t reach here until much later. It’s why traditional backstrap loom weaving and natural dyeing have survived over the years.
Mostly women weave here, but some men are also learning. Girls start when they are around ten years old. Native wild preHispanic cotton grows here, too — caramel colored brown, mint green, creamy white make up the palette. White thread can also be dyed red with cochineal, blue with indigo, yellow with wild marigold, brown with nuts and bark. Brazilwood turns white cotton to a fucsia hot pink. Cooking cotton in an iron pot dulls the color. White becomes a soft grey.
We visit one of the oldest cooperatives, Jini Nuu. We gather in the courtyard under the shade of an almond tree The bark is also a dye material. Yuridia and Verónica welcome us. The older women are sitting on the ground, legs tucked under them, bare toes peeking out from their posahuanco wrap-around skirts, spinning cotton with the drop spindle, picking seeds from the cotton to get ready to spin it, and weaving on the backstrap loom.
Our group sits down for lunch. We are served tamales stuff with a local specialty of mangrove mussels and another type stuffed with chicken. There is a spicy beef broth soup, tasty fruit waters, avocado, Oaxaca queso fresco, and plenty of made in the comal tortillas. We are in foodie heaven. Our desert is a shot of Piedra de Alma mezcal.
Mid-afternoon we cross the village to visit Camerina and the Las Sanjuaneras cooperative where they weave beautiful gauze fabric and work only in natural dyes. Their oldest member is age 81 and their youngest is in her 30’s. Cooperatives are important social and economic organizations, offering ways to marketi and also provide mutual support.
Designs woven into the cloth are selected by each weaver. They I clise the flora and fauna of the region. Since we are near the coast, this includes crab, turtles, ducks, birds, stars, rainbows, mountains, scorpions, pine trees, corn plants, chickens. The row of women figures holding hands depicts solidarity. Shoulder decorations of zigzag depict the Feathers of Quetzalcoatl — the serpent god. The double-headed eagle has special significance: the duality of life, ting-hangs, man-woman, fertility.
It’s been 19 months since I’ve been to my home in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca. In the past several years I’ve been walking, and eating for health (gluten and lactose free). Most of the handwoven clothes I have, mostly from Oaxaca and Chiapas, do not fit! If you wear a size Medium, Large or Extra Large, then look closely below for some beautiful blouses (blusas) and dresses (huipiles). Many rare, most with natural dyes.
How to buy: 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 once piece, I’m happy to combine mailing. I’ll be mailing from Taos, NM when I return after November 15.
A handmade, hand-woven textile from Oaxaca is a meaningful gift this year when so few tourists are there to support artisans. Instead of taking you into remote villages to meet the makers this year, I am bringing what they make to the USA to offer them to you. Please support them.
We can collectively help alleviate the economic ravages of Covid-19 this way. Please consider helping the women who make these beautiful garments by making a purchase either for yourself or for a loved one. These are one-of-a-kind treasures.
Growing the organic, native cotton in small mountain plots.
Cleaning, carding and then spinning the cotton with the drop spindle (malacate).
Picking locally sourced plant materials for natural dyes; buying cochineal and indigo from specialty farmers.
Making the dye baths and dyeing the threads.
Dressing the back-strap loom.
Weaving the threads on the ancient back-strap loom.
Hand-sewing the wefts of cloth together with intricate stitches to make a garment.
Washing and pressing the finished textile.
Packing it up and mailing it to us to prepare for you.
Measurements: First number is width. Second number is length. Width is measure across the front, side seam to side seam.
To Buy: Please email me email@example.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 be sure to select Send Money to Family and Friends! DO NOT SELECT buying goods or services–so we don’t pay commissions. We also accept Venmo and I can send you a Square invoice (+3% fee) if you don’t use PayPal.
Where is Las Sanjuaneras Cooperative located? At the end of a winding mountain road up from MEX 200 on the coast at Pinotepa Nacional is the weaving village of San Juan Colorado. It’s about four hours from Puerto Escondido and is part of our Oaxaca Coast Textile Tour 2022 (next year). Meanwhile, we can support this talented group while we wait until it is safe to travel again!
Textile Care: Dry clean or wash by hand. To wash, turn garment inside out. Immerse in cold water using a mild soap such as Fels Naptha or baby shampoo. Don’t use Woolite — it leeches color. Gently massage the cloth. Squeeze and roll in a towel to absorb excess water. Hang to dry. Use medium steam heat to iron if needed.
Return Policy: We support artisans and funds get transferred immediately. There are no returns or refunds. This is a final sale.
To Buy: Please email me firstname.lastname@example.org 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 be sure to select Send Money to Family and Friends! — DO NOT SELECT buying goods or services — so we don’t pay commissions. We also accept Venmo and I can send you a Square invoice (+3% fee) if you don’t use PayPal.
So-Chees-Lah-Hwa-Kah. I spell it out in transliteration so you can say it more easily. Short hand is So-Chee!
I took the last two weeks off from writing and blogging to take a road trip to the Midwest where I visited friends in South Bend, Indiana, and Columbus, Ohio. It was a welcome diversion from routine. While on the road, I was in touch with Yecenia (Yesi) Lopez after contacting her earlier about selecting some of her Tejadoras de Llanura de las Flores Cooperative’s beautiful textiles for us to see and purchase. I made the order from South Bend and when I returned to Durham yesterday, the box was there waiting for me at the front door.
Sale Starts: Saturday, October 3, 2020, 1:00 p.m. Eastern
There are 17 garments total. Some are natural dyes. Some are native green, white and coyuchi (honey colored) cotton grown in the village on small farm plots. There is one scarf. Most are blusas and there are a few long huipiles. Even as we are approaching winter, these make beautiful, colorful tops to layer over a long-sleeve silk T-shirt to wear with leggings, pants, jeans or a skirt.
The Amusgo people are an indigenous group with their own distinct language who live north and south along the Oaxaca-Guerrero border. The closest town to Xochistlahuaca, Guerrero is Ometepec. It is more than five hours north of Puerto Escondido and is considered part of the Costa Chica region that extends to just south of Acapulco.
About Tejadoras de Llanura de las Flores, from Yesi Lopez de Jesus
“We are a group of women from the municipality of Xochistlahuaca, the original community where the Amusgos people live. We decided to work in a group that we named the Cooperativa Llanura de las Flores — Plain of Flowers — which is the meaning of the name of our Suljaa people in our indigenous language. This is what Xochistlahuaca means in Amusgo: Plain of Flowers.
“We learned to weave and spin thread from our mothers, grandmothers, aunts and sisters. Weaving is learned and transmitted from generation to generation. Now, we understand that with threads we create art. In each textile that we make, there is a piece of us, our time, our knowledge, patience, love and part of our life.
“It is necessary to work in a cooperative to help each other out as women, to contribute to the economic well-being of our household, to feed, educate and provide healthcare for our children and our families.
“The textile, the huipil, everything we create with the threads and our imagination, is not only a piece for sale or simple merchandise. Our creations are living pieces in which we capture part of our daily life. We weave the iconography of our Plain of Flowers.
“This is why we think that as a cooperative we can continue working and sharing with the younger generations so that this ancient knowledge is never lost.
“We are 25 women who continue to weave, fighting for life, defending the loom and native cotton.”
When you purchase one (or more) of these beautiful textiles, you are bringing the heart and soul of the weaver and her family into your home and heart. Not only do you add beauty to your own life, you are supporting the history of back-strap loom weaving in Mexico and giving women an opportunity to earn a fair wage from their work. You provide sustenance and continuity. You provide hope and courage. You provide value and meaning.
Why We Left, Expat Anthology: Norma’s Personal Essay
Norma contributes personal essay, How Oaxaca Became Home
Norma Contributes Two Chapters!
Click image to order yours!
Our Programs: Study Tours + Workshops
Dye Workshops All Year. Set Your Own Dates.
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We offer textile experiences in our studio where we weave and work only in natural dyes.You can see the process during our textile tours, dye workshops or customized weaving experiences. Ask us for more information about these experiences, customized scheduling, and prices.
Oaxaca has the largest and most diverse textile culture in Mexico! Learn about it.
1-Day OaxacaCity Collectors Textile Tour.Exclusive Access! We take you into the homes and workshops of Oaxaca State's prize-winning weavers. They come from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the Mixteca, Mixe, Amuzgos and Triqui areas and represent their weaving families and cooperatives here. For collectors, retailers, buyers, wholesalers, fashionistas.
1-Day Oaxaca Textile Walking Tour When you visit Oaxaca immerse yourself in our textile culture: How is indigenous clothing made, what is the best value, most economical, finest available. Suitable for adults only. Set your own dates.
February 5-13, 2023: Bucket List Tour: Monarch Butterflies + Michoacan. Spiritual, mystical connection to nature. Go deep into weaving, pottery, mask-making and more! We haven't offered this tour since 2019 and we anticipate it will sell out quickly. TWO SPACES OPEN
Stay Healthy. Stay Safe. In Oaxaca, wear your mask. Questions? Want more info or to register? Send an email to Norma Schafer.
Maps: Teotitlan + Tlacolula Market
We require 48-hour advance notice for map orders to be processed. We send a printable map via email PDF after order received. Please be sure to send your email address. Where to see natural dyed rugs in Teotitlan del Valle and layout of the Sunday Tlacolula Market, with favorite eating, shopping, ATMs. Click Here to Buy Map After you click, be sure to check PayPal to ensure your email address isn't hidden from us. We fulfill each map order personally. It is not automatic.
Dye Master Dolores Santiago Arrellanas with son Omar Chavez Santiago, weaver and dyer, Fey y Lola Rugs, Teotitlan del Valle