Tag Archives: Kanda Jewelry Workshop

Zapotec and Aztec Symbology Translated to Extraordinary Silver Jewelry

Brigitte's Silver Bracelets

Amazing.  Astounding. Alluring. Captivating.  What else can describe the incredible silver adornments fashioned by French designer Brigitte under her label Kanda Designs?   Brigitte is known to just about every Gringa traveler to Oaxaca.  I have often seen American women on the return flight to Houston proudly wearing an acquisition or two — a great way to remind them of a memorable Oaxaca visit.  Afterall, isn’t shopping for jewelry a cultural experience, too?

Creative hands

By appointment, Brigitte will meet you at a predetermined location — usually a cafe or restaurant — in the Central Historic District near Santo Domingo Church.  It is a ritual reunion for many who return regularly to Oaxaca.  On this last trip, we meet at a comfortable cafe and order our lattes.  Brigitte and her husband live in San Augustin Etla, a thirty minute drive from the city.  Scheduling an appointment is easy, though, since she does business by cell phone and wheels.  We pull up chairs  and settle in.  Brigitte gently unrolls her black velvet jewelry cases.  The polished and deeply carved silver against the black is stunning.  We might even be too preoccupied to sip the delicious coffee that sits steaming next to us.

Rings in every size to fit every finger

Brigitte talks about the various designs that she employs.  The wax carved molds are containers for the molten silver.  The finished product is substantial, impressive and comfortable.  Some pieces represent traditional gods or animals, others are symbols for rain, earth, lightening, the four elements, images from the ancient codices.  To spend an hour with Brigitte (for that is what it takes to discern the design nuances) is to learn a bit of Zapotec or Aztec history.

Her work is very different from the traditional and delicate filigree silver jewelry that many indigenous Oaxacan women wear. And, her prices are fair and reasonable for the high quality pieces.  Rings and earrings start at approximately $80 USD, and bracelets, amulets, and neck pieces are somewhat-to-considerably higher. It is definitely a treat to examine the fine detail of the carved pieces, whether you decide to take a piece home or not.  To locate Brigitte you can email her at kandamex@yahoo.com

Brigitte in sunlight

Oaxaca: A Shopping Bonanza for Visitors

Mexico has always been a bargain, but it is even more so today.  The peso is hovering between 12 and 13 pesos to the dollar.  This region is famous for its textiles — gorgeous backstrap handloomed garments made by indigenous women in local villages using the finest cotton and natural dyes, incredible filagree silver and gold jewelry crafted with perfection by masters who have learned from the generations before them, extraordinary wool tapestry rugs that have been dyed with natural plant materials.  All about 20 to 30 percent less than they were six months ago when the peso was stronger than the dollar.

Yesterday I did a bit of lookie-loo sightseeing in the upscale shopping area around Santo Domingo church and found a gold and silver filagree ring inset with white sappires at Oro de Monte Alban (on Gurrion) for $317.  Last year the same ring sold for over $450 USD.  For me, it was eye candy and I did not buy, but if you’re coming to Oaxaca to take home something very special, this could be it!

I also met with Brigitte, a French emigre, and friend of my sister, who has been living in Oaxaca for 15 years.  She is a jewelry artist silversmith and creates beautiful 925 silver pieces employing wax molds that are carved with traditional Mixtec, Zapotec and Aztec designs.  Her studio is Kanda Jewelry Workshop in San Augustin Etla and she can be reached at 951-521-3100 in Oaxaca or send her an email to make an appointment for a showing at: Kandamex@yahoo.com Her work can be found in high end galleries around town, but you can buy direct at a substantial savings.  Brigitte will be happy to meet you for an Agua Fresca at La Olla, too.

At Amate Books, you might want to pick up a newly published paperback by photographer Christopher Stowens, titled The Carvers of San Martin Tilcajete, a Directory of Artesans.  It sells for $180 pesos.  The photographs are lovely and it is an excellent guide to some of the more accomplished woodcarvers of this village off the Ocotlan highway.  A map to the carvers houses/workshops is included.  Contact cstowens@gmail.com for more information.  A sociology professor at Benito Juarez University told me recently that San Martin Tilcajete is at risk of losing its carving traditions because of the deline in tourism, so if you want to do something beneficial to support the local economy, make a visit there!