Tag Archives: Oaxaca folk art

Oaxaca Folk Art Sale: Handwoven Handbags

Cochineal on Opuntia cactus, La Palma

Cochineal on a Prickly Pear Cactus

My collection has grown and overtaken me!  It’s time to offer a few pieces for sale.  I have also listed these on eBay, so if you want them please contact me directly to confirm that they are still available.

Cochineal Dyed Hand Bag, Handwoven, $60

This bag has a zippered closing, is lined and an internal pocket.  It was woven at the Bii Dauu cooperative in Teotitlan del Valle.  Bag is 13″ wide x 10″ high.

Cochineal & Wild Marigold Flower Dyed Wool Handbag, $60

This gorgeous bag has straps that are braided and attached to the bag with grommets.  The green leaf embellishments are sewn with beads.  The cochineal ranges from red to deep purple, a gorgeous contrast to the golden yellow derived from wild marigold flowers.  This bag is woven by Pastora at La Vida Nueva women’s cooperative.

ZigZag Motif Handbag, $60

This lovely bag was woven by my friend Rocio at Casa Santiago.  It also has a zippered closure.  Handles are high quality leather.  The luscious purple color is from the bark of the Palo de Campeche tree.  (Photo shows pink, but the color is a softer mauve purple.) The white and grey contrast is from undyed wool.   Bag is 10″high x 14″ wide.

Shoulder Bags by Erasto "Tito" Mendoza, $125 each

These are stunners!  Tito just won an award at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Festival this summer and has been invited to be part of a big Vancouver, B.C. folk art festival.  Choose one or the other bag (or both, if you please) priced at $125 each.  They are woven with 100% wool in the Saltillo style — 20-22 warp threads per inch.  Very intricate and labor intensive.  These are selling in Oaxaca now for over $200 each.  Very collectible.  Specify blue or gold diamonds.

Red + Black Shoulder Bag w/Coin Purse, $50

Deer, pyramids, turkeys and eagles, and flowers are the design elements on these cotton bags woven on a backstrap loom in Santo Tomas Jalieza by the Navarro Gomez sisters.  Price includes two pieces.

Payment:  I am happy to send you a PayPal invoice!  You can use your charge card or bank account.

Homage to Dolores Porras

It has been three years since I visited folk art potter Dolores Porras in her village of Santa Maria Atzompa.  She was still actively creating decorative pots painted with figures of sirenas (mermaids) with wild hair and tantalizing three dimensional breasts, sculpted figures of madonnas and angels, fanciful pigs and burros.  The shelves were packed with stunning pottery and it was difficult to choose which piece I could take home that would be small enough to fit in my suitcase.  I was with photographer friends Sam and Tom Robbins from Columbus, Ohio, and my godson Eric Chavez Santiago.  There were two inverted pots covered with faces in bas relief.  The pots rested on the opening, bottom side up, displaying probably eight of these faces as if they were sisters or multiple personalities.  Sam and I each bought one and mine takes center stage on my dining room table, an homage to Dolores Porras.

I had not seen Dolores since, and when I visited her yesterday it was startling to see her wheelchair bound and frail.  She told me in a hushed, throaty voice that she has Parkinson’s disease, doesn’t want to eat and is losing her mind.  I know Parkinson’s.  A good friend in North Carolina has it and I have seen how it eats away at the nervous system, creating memory loss and immobility.  I asked Dolores if she was in pain.  Her only pain is that she cannot remember and she cannot see much.  Are you working? I ask.  Can you make your clay?  No, she said, I have no strength.

The shelves around the room were bare, only a few of her pieces remain to be sold.  I put my arms around her and kiss her forehead and tell her she is a great artist and thank her for her life and her creativity.  I give her magic kisses through the air and she kisses me back with her lips pursed, and we are there, two adult women, kissing each other through space and my eyes are wet and I just want to leave the room and sob.  This is such a loss of a treasured talent and it is painful to see how this disease robs people of their life’s energy much to early.  Dolores is age seventy-three but she looks like one hundred.

Outside, the courtyard walk is lined with piles of discarded, broken figures and plates, imperfect angels.  I lift up pieces and hold them between my fingers and discover a face plate made perhaps years ago, and then an angel.  Muy viejo (very old) says Dolores’s son.  Are they for sale?  Yes, he says.  I buy these and two extraordinary mermaid urns, the last two.  He and I cry.  I didn’t need these things, but to me, they are much more — my homage to Dolores Porras.

Shopping Oaxaca: Galeria Lola y Fe


Around the corner from the Santo Domingo Church on Ave. Cinco de May #408 is the new gallery shop opened by my friends Federico Chavez Sosa and his wife Dolores Santiago Arrellanas.  Her nickname is Lola and his is Fe!  They weave the most spectacular tapetes (rugs) that I have talked about and featured on my blog and website for the past several years.  This is a new adventure for the family.  They have been based in Teotitlan del Valle their entire lives, where they live, work and sell their rugs from their home on Francisco I. Madero #55.  Now, their dream to have a spot in the city that is more accessible to visitors is realized.

They work only in natural dyes, buying the hand carded and spun churro wool from friends in the Oaxaca highland town of Chichicapam.  They wash the wool by hand and prepare it in skein for dyeing.  Then, they create the glorious, vibrant colors using the natural, organic materials from the cochineal bug and plants:  wild marigold, indigo, pecan leaves and shells, pomegranates, lichens and moss.

In addition to the rugs, wall hangings and table coverings, you will find handbags, folk art and other collectibles.

There are many rug vendors in Oaxaca, but few have the artistic mastery of this weaving family.  Designs range from contemporary to traditional, and many rugs incorporate the Zapotec motifs from the archeological sites of Mitla and Monte Alban.  There is depth and imagination that you will find no where else.

It is important to emphasize that chemical dyes used by most other weavers are toxic and put the people who use them at risk for cancer and respiratory illness.  Using natural dyes takes time, skill and greater expense.  Supporting weavers who use authentic natural dyes is a way to sustain the environment, promote good health, and reintroduce indigenous dyeing techniques.

Galeria Lola y Fe has been open less than a week.  It is inside a lovely courtyard with a bubbling fountain, in a space shared by the Gestalt Institute.  To get there, you enter into the courtyard and it is on your immediate left.  The gallery is not visible from the street, so you have to venture inside the courtyard, past the shop that sells fabrics from Mitla.  It is a few doors down from my other favorite gallery, El Nahual.

You can see the documentary I made about this work on YouTube:  Weaving a Curve Movie

To contact Lola y Fe, telephone (951) 524-4078.  Hours vary.

Or (951) 1302481 (son Eric Chavez Santiago, director of education, Museo Textil de Oaxaca)