Tag Archives: Oaxaca

It’s An Indigo World Sale: Shawls, Scarves

Well, mostly indigo, plus some other spectacular natural dyes that are used to color the threads of these twelve (12) beautifully back-strap loom woven scarves and shawls. Here, you will find alder wood bark (palo de aguila), wild marigold (pericone), banana tree bark, purple snail (caracol), coyuchi (native brown cotton), and cochineal (red bug) dyes. These pieces, from my personal collection, are from Michoacan and Oaxaca. All are in pristine condition, most never worn. (Remember, I’m not opening a textile museum!) I’ll explain in more detail with each piece. One size fits all! Perfect for holiday gifting — for her, him, they!

How to Buy: Send an email to norma.schafer@icloud.com and tell me the item(s) you want to purchase by number, your email, your mailing address 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 flat rate $14 mailing fee. Happy to combine shipping. Thank you. Note: All sales final. Please measure carefully!

#1. Indigo shawl embellished with caracol rare purple snail dye from the Oaxaca coast village of Pinotepa de Don Luis, created by the famous Tixinda cooperative led by Don Habacuc. This is an ample shawl that measures 23″ wide x 80″ long. 100% cotton. All natural dyes. $265.

#2. This was a prize winner at the Dreamweavers January 2021 expoventa in Puerto Escondido. It is a handwoven scarf made on the back strap loom with threads dyed with indigo, coyuchi, caracol purpura, and fuschine. Measures 9-3/4″ wide x 78″ long. 100% cotton. $165.

#3. Master weaver Roman Gutierrez from Teotitlan del Valle wove and dyed this shibori shawl colored with wild marigold and over-dyed with indigo. It measures 22-1/2″ wide x 76″ long. 100% cotton. $145.

#4. Another Tixinda cooperative shawl, a real beauty, woven with indigo, caracol, coyuchi and cochineal. Measures 26″ wide x 110″ long. $285.

#5. From the Mixe Oaxaca mountain village of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec, a very fine pedal loomed scarf created by Artefer, dyed with alder wood and banana bark. Measures 12″ wide x 84″ long. Wrap it around the neck twice for super comfort. $125.

#6. In Zinacantan, Chiapas, they create these beautiful hand-woven neck scarves — fold in a triangle and wear like a bandana! The pompoms serve as ties! Red, black, and peach. Great color combo. Not natural dyes. 25″ square. $75.

#7. This herringbone design from Tlahuitoltepec is made on the pedal loom with cotton threads dyed with indigo. Gorgeous scarf. Measures 12″ wide x 84″ long. $125.

8. Another fine shawl, lightweight and perfect for winter warmth from Tlahuitoltepec. It is woven with a cotton warp and wool weft. The cotton is dyed with banana bark and the wool weft is indigo. Measures 24″ wide x 96″ long. Wrap it around your body or use as a throw! $225.

9. What can I say? We will miss her. Recently deceased Cecelia Bautista Caballero wove this shawl in her village of Ahuiran, Michoacan. She hand tied the knots in the 13″ punta (fringe), too. I bought this from her when I visited her home in 2019. You can have a piece of Mexican weaving culture history with this shawl. Commercial dyes. A masterful textile, rare and beautiful. Measures 32″ wide x 110″ long. $445.

10. This textile is a traditional technique from the coastal Oaxaca mountain village of Santiago Ixtlayutla, near Pinotepa de Don Luis, where I purchased it. The dye is fuschine, which some call cochineal, but it isn’t. It is a synthetic dye that adheres to the silk designs woven as supplementary weft into the cotton. The dye brings out the figures of religious symbols and animals typical to the region. The bleeding of the dye is actually what it does and is considered part of the design. Very beautiful and psychedelic! Measures 24″ wide x 88″ long. $295.

11. From my collection, vintage African mud cloth textile dyed with indigo. Good vintage condition. Some wear. Measures 27″ wide x 96″ long. The 12″ fringes are hand-twisted. $95.

12. Patzcuaro flower garden shawl measures 27″ wide x 82″ long. Made on the back-strap loom in Tzintzuntzan, Michoacan, by Teofila Servin Barriga, the most famous weaver-embroiderer on Lake Patzcuaro. The flowers are all embroidered using French knots and other embroidery stitches. It is stunning. Measures 27″ wide x 82″ long. $385.

13. This is a masterpiece from Malinalco, Estado de Mexico, where ikat weaving reigns. Camelia Ramos learned rebozo weaving from her father and has passed it on to her children. She is recognized by Fundacion Banamex for her outstanding workmanship. This rebozo, from her studio Xoxopastli, is woven with threads dyed in cochineal and indigo, a rarity for this type of work. The punta or fringe is triangular in the Colonial style preferred by the Spanish women who came to Mexico after the conquest. It takes three months to weave the cloth and another three months to hand-knot the fringes. Measures 31″wide x 100″ long. $425.

Thank you once again for browsing and shopping with me. I very much appreciate your support and your dedication to our Mexican artisans. -Norma

Bonus photo: Tarantula in my backyard. Harmless. Half the size of our Teotitlan arachnids. Furry nevertheless!

Gratitude and Introducing Eric Chavez Santiago

Every day that I wake up here on the mesa overlooking the Rio Grande Gorge in Taos, New Mexico, I give thanks. It’s that time of year for giving thanks, for renewal of spirit and reaffirmation of life, for expressing gratitude to family and friends for all they have contributed to my well-being and for helping me get to this place I now call home. In traditional cultures, this is the harvest season and we give thanks for the abundance, a perfect closure to the annual growing cycle. It is also a time to start anew, take stock, make amends, assess our way of being. My thanks giving includes you. So many of you have read this blog since I started writing it in 2007, have taken tours and workshops with Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC, and have purchased many beautiful textiles. You have my thanks and sincerest gratitude. You have helped so many artisans improve their lives and livelihood. My gratitude is on their behalf, too.

Sunset, my backyard on the Rio Grande Gorge

It takes a combination of fear and courage to make change. I have a sticker on my sewing box that says, Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone, and I believe that. It’s a testimony to all of us who have recognized what we are afraid of, what it takes to overcome it and how to push through to get to a place of tranquility and well-being. Sometimes, change is stressful and doesn’t offer the kind of outcome we had hoped for. Change is learning. Without change, we are frozen. For me, this move has been a miracle. Covid brought me to New Mexico from North Carolina, to the infinite and amazing skies filled with light and the blaze of red, yellow and purple, to the high plateau of the southern Rockies, where the Spanish conquerors named these mountains the Sangre de Cristo (blood of Christ) because of the blood red reflection of sunset on the escarpment. My son and daughter-in-law moved to Albuquerque last year, too. It all fell into place. It snowed up there yesterday and it’s getting chilly here now. The seasons are changing.

Wildflowers and latilla fence, up the road in Taos, NM

Why am I here? As I age, I realize that being in the embrace of the miracle of nature is even more important to me than ever before. I needed the expansiveness of an infinite vista of mountains and plains with little to interrupt the eye. I came here at age 75 and built a house. Not something many 75-year-olds do. Now, I am close to turning age 77. In the past two years, I have thought about life, its terminus, health, changes in energy level, and how I want to be living in the next ten years. I am healthy, and yet, aging has a huge impact on how vitality plays out. I realize that my pace is slower and at some point (who knows when), it will be more difficult for me to get to Oaxaca regularly. Recently, I realized I needed a Oaxaca Cultural Navigator partner, someone who knows me, who I trust, who knows the culture.

Eric and Norma, Dia de los Muertos 2021

I have been living with the Chavez Santiago family in Teotitlan del Valle since 2005. It has been one of those life-changing experiences to live with a Zapotec family in their village, on their land, and to be part of and participate in life-cycle events. It was back then that I met the 20-year old Eric Chavez Santiago in the village rug market. He was a weaver, natural dyer, and university student unsure of who or what he would become. I helped get him his first 10-year visa to the USA, and sponsored Eric and his dad Federico to come to Chapel Hill to teach and mount an expoventa in 2006. They invited me to build a house and live with them. Our relationship is based on trust and there is no contract. Then, I coached Eric to apply to the not yet opened Museo Textil de Oaxaca, where he became the founding director of education and made his mark establishing programs to recognize the talents of indigenous Oaxaca artisans. After eight years there, he was invited to open the folk art gallery Andares del Arte Popular, owned by Alfred Harp Helu whose foundation has added much to the cultural excitement of Oaxaca.

My host family, Dolores Santiago Arrellanas and Federico Chavez Sosa, Eric’s mom and dad

As I contemplated my own next steps, it was a natural evolution to invite Eric to become a partner in Oaxaca Cultural Navigator. It is my honor to gift him this opportunity in gratitude and thanks for all that he and his family has given me. Now, we are in a transition period and I am involved as Eric and his wife Elsa participate more and more in leading our groups, organizing the infrastructure, handling the administration, and assuming more of an ownership role. This makes the best sense to me to keep Oaxaca Cultural Navigator alive and well far into the future. For the foreseeable future, I will continue to participate in our tours as founder.

Eric’s wife Elsa, son Santiago, and sister Janet at Jacob and Shelley’s wedding, San Clemente, March 2022

Many of you who know Eric, know how capable and engaging he is. He is a fluent English speaker, in addition to communicating in his native Zapotec and Spanish languages. All the artisans he has worked with over the years admire and respect him, and know that he has their best interests at hand. For those of you who have traveled with us recently, where Eric has been the leader, have seen what an extraordinarily knowledgeable and gracious human being he is. I couldn’t be happier to introduce you to him.

If you want to comment about this, please send me an email.

What travelers say about Eric:

I am so very grateful to have had Eric as our leader on the Oaxaca Mountain Textile Tour. Promoting and sustaining artisans is clearly his life work and passion. Eric’s professional and personal experience has given him a seemingly inexhaustible appreciation and knowledge of indigenous cultures, textile origins, weaving methods, motifs and dyeing processes which he shared so eloquently. The artisans we visited, often in quite remote villages, opened their homes, studios and hearts to us due to the mutual respect and friendship Eric has with each of them. Thank you, Eric, for guiding us to expertly and helping us discover the heart and soul behind all the beauty we were lucky to behold. Being with you was such a rich experience! -Connie Michal, Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico

I thought Eric did great! His knowledge of the ara and artisans is outstanding, he provided an excellent educational experience with professional translation. He also made sure everyone was well-cared for, offering assistance to any of us who needed help getting up the hillside. He knowledge and professionalism is so appreciated. -Marsha Betancourt, Brownsville, TX

The Oaxaca textile trip was wonderful in every way. I am grateful that our home base was in Teotitlan del Valle, as it was restful and calm. I also appreciated the way the trip progressed beginning with Eric, his studio and his family. Both you and Eric are so knowledgeable about everything but with a great Socratic approach to learning — giving us enough information and letting our curiosity lead the way to deeper knowledge and understanding. I particularly enjoyed the philosophical conversations about indigenous people and culture, and how we impact that. I also felt a sense of safety and calmness, and acceptance for everyone in the group. Eric is a wonderfully patient, caring, and insightful man. His ability to connect and communicate with trip members was equal to his obvious connection and camaraderie with the indigenous artists and craftspeople we met! I would not hesitate to book a trip with Eric as a solo leader. Thanks for everything! -Pam Cleland-Broyles, San Diego, California

I am excited to be able to express an appreciation of Eric’s skills as a true leader; his communication style is very engaging, open, and soft-spoken. He is bilingual to the strongest expertise or extent. His history of the local culture, social life and craft evolution is encyclopedic. He was very comfortable letting me be as independent as I needed based on my physical strengths and limitations. I would highly recommend him as a tour guide. -Barbara Cabral, San Francisco

Eric is a world-class gentleman. A Mexican weaving and textile expert extraordinaire. Kind, considerate, respectful and patient. He speaks fluent English and can thoroughly explain his expertise and techniques to those of us with no knowledge of the field! -Charlie Dell, Phoenix, AZ

Parade of the Canastas, Teotitlan del Valle

Virtual Trunk Show: 16 Oaxaca + Chiapas Huipiles

Before I left Oaxaca in August to return to New Mexico (to pack, make the mortgage deadline, move, get cataract surgery, unpack, get settled), I went through my collection of back-strap loomed dresses and blouses (huipiles and blusas) in my Teotitlan del Valle casita and made some hard decisions about what to sell. I did this based on 1) the size I was when I bought them, 2) the size I am now, 3) if I ever wore them, 4) if I ever will wear them, and 5) their rarity. Many pieces ARE RARE. Not surprisingly, many still have their tags on them, and all are in pristine condition. Another factor for this sale now is that I FINALLY got fiber internet connection yesterday to my house after waiting for months. So, it’s much easier for me to write and post on my computer rather than using the slow-as-molasses, funky roaming service on my iPhone. Supply chain and labor scarcity has set me back in many ways. I also want you to know that the prices for these huipiles are about what they would cost if purchased directly from the maker. Some are deeply reduced and I’m happy to take a loss. I just have to pare down my collection. I decided recently that I was not going to start a textile museum and best they go to friends, acquaintances, and followers who appreciate these handmade pieces as much as I do. That’s the story!

How to Buy: Send an email to norma.schafer@icloud.com and tell me the item(s) you want to purchase by number, your email, your mailing address 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 flat rate $14 mailing fee. Happy to combine shipping. Thank you.

SOLD. #1. This creamy white pullover blusa is a perfect pair-up with slacks or jeans. Wear it in winter over a cozy T to add some pizzaz to your style. This is handwoven on the back strap loom by the Oaxaca Amusgo people. The top has crotchet edging around the bodice, seams, and sleeves. Measures a drapy 40″ wide x 22″ long. $165.

SOLD #2. From the famous workshop of designer Alberto Lopez Gomez, Aldama, Chiapas (remember, he was invited to NYC fashion week and has exhibited all over Europe). This is a densely woven back strap loomed blusa in a dusty rose on white. All the patterning in the cloth is done with the supplementary weft technique, which means it is woven into the cloth as the weaver progresses, taking months to make. Note: This is NOT embroidered! Measures 23″ wide x 24″ long. You can have this at cost: $385.

SOLD. #3. This is a lovely short huipil measuring 29″ wide x 29″ long, handwoven on the back strap loom in Pinotepa de Don Luis on the Oaxaca coast, where master weavers work in natural dyes. This one is dyed with the shell of the jicara gourd and the designs are created using the rare caracol purpura purple snail, almost extinct. $295.

#4. The Amusgo people are some of the finest weavers in Oaxaca. This is a collector’s piece, rare, dyed with indigo and native brown cotton in the Guerrero village of Xochistlahuaca. Measures 32″ wide x 40″ long. Priced at $595.

#5. I spotted this beauty in the corner of a cooperative in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas. It is dyed with cochineal and alderwood. Very special because it is a contemporary adaptation of the traditional huipil from San Juan Cancuc, located far into the mountains and difficult to get to. Note the hand-tied fringes at the hem and embroidered detail on the bodfice. Size small. Measures 21″ wide x 36″ long. $225.

SOLD. #6. Another Pinotepa de Don Luis beauty — a very fine indigo and coyuchi (native brown Oaxaca cotton that is pre-Hispanic in origin) huipil that is 29″ wide x 42″ long. $345. This comes from the Tixinda cooperative whose members include Don Habacuc who goes to the coast to harvest the rare purple snail.

SOLD #7. A floral masterpiece. From the Amusgo community in Guerrero state just across the Oaxaca border to the north along the Pacific coast, comes this huipil from the Flor de las Llanuras cooperative. This is a finely woven gauze piece that is unusual in its subtlety of color and masterful weaving. Measures 25″ wide x 41″ long. $495.

SOLD. #8. Originating from a famous cooperative in San Juan Colorado, this traditional huipil features all natural dyes on hand-spun native cotton. The dyes include nanche (a local fruit) and iron oxide. Measures 27″ wide x 44″ long. $185.

#9. Far south on the coast of Oaxaca is the small fishing village of San Mateo del Mar near the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. The few weaving families remaining are masterful interpreters of sealife, flora and fauna of the region. This one is made by the most famous weaver, Francisca Palafox Heran, and her iinitials are woven into the bodice of the cloth. For the discerning collector among us! It very fine cotton woven on the back strap loom, dyed with alderwood and indigo. Measures 24″ wide x 38″ long. $395.

#10. Another blue and white beauty from San Mateo del Mar, woven by one of Francisca’s family members. Measures 25″ wide x 42″ long. $295.

SOLD. #11. Amusgo white gauze huipil, measures 30″ wide x 40″ long. See the fine detail of the patterning in the cloth — a weaving technique called supplementary weft. White on white is a rarity to find. $285.

#12. Blue indigo and coyuchi native brown cotton huipil from Las Sanjuaneras cooperative in San Juan Colorado. These women are spectacular weavers. Measures 31″ wide x 34″ long. $225.

SOLD. #13. Pinotepa de Don Luis huipil woven with threads dyed with rare purple snail called caracol purpura and native brown coyuchi cotton. The purple dye is rare and on the verge of extinction. Measures 25″ wide x 36″ long. $375.

SOLD. #14. Las Sanjuaneras indigo, mahogany bark, and native white cotton huipil from San Juan Colorado. Measures 30″ wide x 37″ long. Graceful and flowing. $265.

SOLD. #15. Amusgo beige huipil, fine details in the supplementary weft weaving, measures 31″ wide x 42″ long and priced to sell at $195.

SOLD. #16. Weavers and dyers are experimenting (a very good thing for innovation), and they have come up with a color-fast raw indigo dye that comes out a muted green/blue. This one has subtle strips and is embellished with caracol purpura purple snail threads that depict traditional designs found in San Juan Colorado. Measures 33″ wide x 31″ long. $285.

In the next weeks, I’ll be looking through my boxes and featuring a few more huipiles, plus an array of beautiful shawls and scarves — perfect adornment for chillier weather coming on. Or use these for table runners, I’ve never been able to say NO to a beautiful textile or to supporting the weavers who need our patronage. Plus, Day of the Dead is coming up and I have masks, carvings, and sculpture from Mexico that I’ll be listing, too. Be on the alert!

Quick Sale: Greca Rug + 2 Pillows

SOLD #1 Muy Suavecita Grecas Rug or Blanket—$187

This textile was woven by 90+ year old Secundino in the old Teotitlan Zapotec style. He washed the yarn in the river with amole, a root used for soap. He weaves on the treadle loom. This is two matching pieces sewn together just like the old days. It’s much softer and lighter weight than a rug. More suited, I think for the foot of the bed, back of a chair or sofa. All natural sheep wool. Very, very soft. A few small moth holes, but they don’t detract from the overall beauty or functionality. 61×64” Hand twisted fringes. BTW, for years Secundino led all the village parades, playing the ancient Zapotec flute.

#2. Pillow Pair from Chiapas, $195

These pillows are handwoven on the backstrap loom of the finest cotton in a village outside of San Cristobal de las Casas. The pattern is grey on white using the supplementary weft technique, which means it is part of the weaving. This is NOT embroidered. From the premiere cooperative Jolom Mayaetik. New, never used. Does not include pillow forms. Price is for the pair. Two tassle tie closures on back; measures 12” x19”

HOW TO BUY Send an email to norma.schafer@icloud.com and tell me the item(s) you want to purchase by number, your email, your mailing address 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 then add on a flat rate $14 mailing fee for the pillows and $23 for the throw Happy to combine shipping. Thank you.

Joyas: Jewelry for Sale from Oaxaca and Chiapas

Joyas is the Spanish word for jewels. We often hear the word joyeria, which means jewelry. Today the selection includes vintage and contemporary jewelry made from pompoms, shells and seeds, fine Italian beads, sterling silver, and copper —necklaces and bangles. I’m also starting off with two great Oaxaca market baskets in dramatic black and white.

How to Buy: send an email to norma.schafer@icloud.com and tell me the item(s) you want to purchase by number, your email, your mailing address 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 then add on a flat rate $14 mailing fee. Happy to combine shipping. Thank you.

#1 on left is Super Grande tote bag, sturdy woven plastic, $73, 17×17” and SOLD #2 Medio on right is $58, 17” wide x 13” tall.
#3. Coconut shell and coffee bean necklace, adjustable length. $39
#4. Red Dazzle Pom Pom Necklace, adjustable length. From the best maker in Chiapas! $54
#5. Sterling Silver Vintage Beads necklace. Handmade beads.These have to be 8-10 mm in diameter! Made in Mexico. 24” long. $166
#6. handwoven natural palm fiber earrings, 3-1/2” long $44
#7. Confetti necklace, Italian glass beads, adjustable length. $76
#8. Black clay pearl necklace from San Bartolo Coyotepec with carved bauble drop. Asymmetry adds stylish statement. 21” long. $82
#9. Star power! 2-1/2 x 2-1/2” hand painted earrings by Aureliano Lorenzo. $43

#10. Set of 3 bangles, 2 are copper and one is sterling silver, from Taxco. Interior circumference is 7-1/2” — I have not polished these so you can see the beautiful patina of age. Mix and match and rearrange. $165 for all three.

#11. Vintage Mexican sterling silver bead necklace, 16” long. I estimate the bead size at 4mm. $67
#12. Red Italian Glass Beads, multi-strand, necklace if choice in the villages around San Cristobal de Las Casas. A statement piece, adjustable length with pom pom ties. $88
#13. Warm olive green pom pom necklace with 3-strands, very elaborate, light and comfy, adjustable length. $67
#14. Seed pods or nut shells? lightweight and BoHo style. Slip over head. Easy. 26” long. $19
#15. Handmade copper bead necklace, 20” long from Michoacan. $34