Tag Archives: San Juan Colorado

Think Spring! 13 San Juan Colorado, Oaxaca Huipiles by Brisaida for You

SOLD OUT! Thanks to all for your support.

Brisaida is one of my favorite weavers from San Juan Colorado, on Oaxaca’s Costa Chica, that stretch of land along the Pacific Coast extending from Puerto Escondido north to Acapulco. We visit her on our Oaxaca Coast Textile Study Tour. She contacted me last week to appeal for help. She has some amazing huipiles and blusas available for sale. I said, sure, I’ll help you! Finding buyers for extraordinary work is the biggest challenge that indigenous weavers face. Most speak only a native language and without Spanish, markets elude them and they depend on middlemen who often pay less than the value of a textile and the work women put into making them.

Whatever sells in the next 10 days, Brisaida will package up and ship to me. This takes about a week to arrive in Taos. I’ll then package up what you choose and mail to you. I’d like to receive all that sells in one bundle to minimize shipping cost. So, please make your selections by April 28. Thank you.

We have 13 amazing pieces to offer you. They are all hand-woven on the back-strap loom, created from naturally dyed cotton. Dyes include Brazilwood, mahogany bark, raw and fermented indigo, guava, iron oxide, and wild marigold. Much of the cotton threads are hand-spun on the malacate (drop spindle) from locally sourced native cotton, grown since pre-Hispanic times. What you are purchasing is a piece of art! In doing so, you support a woman from a small indigenous community who has little opportunity to sell her work. Women here struggle to support their families with cash income when the men in their families are subsistence farmers who have no commercial outlet for their produce — everyone here grows corn, beans, and squash to feed their kin — when men stay! Most have left for employment in larger Mexican cities or risk their lives to go to El Norte with a coyote ($3-4,000 USD cost) to enter the USA as undocumented labor. It’s not an easy life. We have an opportunity to help!

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, your phone number, and which payment method you prefer: 1) Zelle bank transfer with no service fee; 2) Venmo or 3) PayPal each with a 3.3% service fee. Please send me your account name or number! I will send you a request for funds and then add on a $14 mailing fee. Happy to combine shipping if you buy more than one piece. These are one-of-a-kind. Note: Thank you for understanding that all sales are final. Please measure carefully.

SOLD. #1. Mahogany and raw indigo. Raw indigo has not been fermented. The leaves are rubbed on the cotton to give us a lovely fresh green color. 42″ long x 28″ wide. $345 plus mailing.

SOLD 2. Rainbow of natural colors with indigo and wild marigold brocade* embellished with hearts. 42″ long x 31″ wide. $345 plus mailing.

SOLD #3. Mahogany bark, guava, iron oxide and Brazilwood. 38″ long x 31″ wide. $345 plus mailing.

SOLD. #4. Pinole seeds and bark with indigo. 43″ long x 30″ wide. $345 plus mailing.

SOLD. #5. Mahogany, indigo, and natural white cotton. 34″ long x 30″ wide. $345 plus mailing.

SOLD. 6. Mahogany, iron oxide, and natural white. 34″ long x 30″ wide. $345 plus mailing.

SOLD. #7 Guava, Brazilwood, and natural white. 35″ long x 28″ wide. $298 plus mailing.

SOLD. #8. Subtle rainbow base cloth with indigo, mahogany, and white brocade. 34″ long x 29″ wide. $298 plus mailing.

SOLD. #9. Raw indigo and multi-color base cloth with multi-colored bordado. 32″ long x 29″ wide. $298 plus mailing.

SOLD. #10. Wild marigold, indigo, and mahogany. 29″ long x 26″ wide. $275 plus mailing.

SOLD. 11. Brazilwood, indigo and natural white. 26″ long x 29″ wide. $255 plus mailing.

SOLD. 12. Rainbow Rayas. 26″ long x 25″ wide. $245 plus mailing.

SOLD. #13. Brazilwood. 30″ long x 25″ wide. $245 plus mailing.

Care Instructions: Hand wash with a mild soap (Fels Naptha or Zote — do not use Woolite) and hang to dry. Press with a warm iron, if desired.

*About the Cloth: The cotton threads may have been grown locally, cleaned, beaten to smooth the fibers, and then hand-spun using the malacate (drop spindle). Weavers also use top quality, fine Omega thread sourced from the last cotton mill in Puebla, Mexico, and then dyed at home with local plants. The designs and patterns embellished in the cloth are made with the brocade (bordado) technique of adding threads into the woven cloth using the supplementary weft technique. These garments are perfect for spring, summer and fall, or layer them over an insulated T-shirt for winter dressing to add color to your life during the dark days. The pieces range from medium weight to gauze weave, giving us cloth that is breathable and luxurious for warm and hot weather.

Meet Brisaida. She is in her 30’s. I’m with her in San Juan Colorado in late January. Yes, she wove what I’m wearing and of course, it’s now part of my collection! Brisaida embodies the heritage of many Mexican women along the coast whose heritage stems from indigenous Mixtec roots mixed with the Afro-Mexican slave experience and their quest for freedom beyond the mines, sugar cane fields of Veracruz, and entrapment.

San Juan Colorado, Oaxaca, Where Textiles Tell Stories

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.

Let us know if you want to go in 2023

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.

What do we call them? Huipiles. Not Caftans!

In addition to cultural appropriation, there is a debate raging about what to call the hand-woven, back-strap loomed garments from Mexico that many of us know as huipiles. This is plural. The singular is huipil. (Some huipiles for sale below!)

How do you say it?


(or What do you do with a banana? We peel. — Thank you, Mary Randall)


Caftan (kaftan) or tunic is a misnomer. I am reminded of this via a text message this morning from Ana Paula Fuentes, who introduced me to Las Sanjuaneras some years ago and was the founding director of the Museo Textil de Oaxaca. I promised her that you and I would have a discussion about Mexican clothing as a way to spread the word about culture.

I just want to set the record straight that I called these garments thus because it is what the American and Canadian marketplace knows and understands as a fashion definition. We’ve been acculturated since the 60’s when these garments came to us from Europe and North Africa and Asia as casual wear, beach and pool wear, loungewear. Now, with Covid-19, the idea is being reintroduced to the world of contemporary clothing as a perfect solution to comfort while we are homebound.

Let’s have the conversation: Clothing origins from Mexico deserve to be called by their true name. Huipil. Bluson. Blusa. Rebozo. Quechquemitl. Etc. And, we can spread the word about the quality of Mexico’s indigenous weaving by using the true name of the garment. People need to know these are huipiles. Not caftans or tunics.

Bluson: A short, cropped flowing version of a huipil, usually waist-length or hip-length.

Blusa: A blouse, more fitted than free-form; a universal term.

Rebozo: A shawl whose origins are from the Philippines via Spain.

Quechquemitl: A triangular pull-over shawl, scarf, cover-up that is pre-Hispanic and the first indigenous garment.

So, help us out here. When you wear one of these garments, call it a Huipil. Together, we can be influencers and talk about Mexico as being a fashion innovator rather than a follower of Euro-centric style. You give value to the weavers this way, too. Thank you.

Still some beauties from Las Sanjuaneras For Sale

#10. Andrea. Bluson. Marigold, chocolatillo. 35-1/2×24. $295.

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.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! We also accept Venmo and I can send you a Square invoice (+3% fee) if you don’t use PayPal.

#2. Camerina. Huipil. Indigo, iron oxide. $285. 34-1/2×34. $285.
#18. Aurora. 19×28. Blusa. Nanche, mahogany, almond, beet. $195.
SOLD. #16. Patrocinia. Bluson. Indigo, native cotton, $195.
#24. Aurora. Bluson. Beet, mahogany, nanche, almond, iron oxide. 38×22. $295.
SOLD. #7. Maria Lucia. 40×40. Huipil. Indigo, iron oxide, beet, nanche. $395
#20. Andrea. Blusa. Marigold, iron oxide, native cotton. 22-3/4×30. $195.
#21. Margarita. Blusa. Marigold, iron oxide, beet, brazilwood, 22-3/4×35. $165.

Shop Open: Las Sanjuaneras Textiles Huipiles, Kaftans, Tunics

Call them huipiles, kaftans, tunics or ponchos. Whatever you call them, call them comfortable, cozy, casual cover-ups. Perfect for lounging or working from home. Perfect for a socially distant safe get-together. Perfect for feeling good in times of Covid-19 and related stress. We are looking for beauty in our lives now especially, and this is one way to attain it.

SOLD. #1. Margarita. 34×43. marigold, iron oxide, indigo. $375.

Read about the Las Sanjuaneras Cooperative here!

There are 27 pieces I’m offering in this collection today. Some are gauzy, light as a feather hand weaves. Some are mid-weight. Some can be used as a poncho. Others are long, short, wide, narrow or cropped. Some are size large and extra-large. Others are small and will fit the petite among us. Please scroll through and make your selection carefully. All sales are final because I will have already paid the weavers by the time I mail them.

Las Sanjuaneras weaver. Photo by Ana Paula Fuentes

100% natural dyes on native, hand-spun cotton, woven on the back strap loom, with slubs and imperfect beauty

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.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! We also accept Venmo and I can send you a Square invoice (+3% fee) if you don’t use PayPal.

#20. Andrea. Marigold, iron oxide, native cotton. 22-3/4×30. $195.

Note: All measurements are in inches. Width is across the front (one side). Please double for circumference. Length is shoulder to hem. Most necks have a 7-8″ opening from shoulder to V.

First come. First served. First email in gets first choice.

SOLD. #4. Delfina. Marigold, mahogany. 34-1/2×38. $365.
SOLD. #11. Margarita. 21×34. Marigold, nanche. $185.
SOLD. #5. Cleotilde. Indigo, mahogany. 38×45. $395.
SOLD. #6. Andrea. Oak, indigo gauze. 35×44. $395.

Read about the Las Sanjuaneras Cooperative here!

#A. Camerina. Guava, iron oxide, indigo. 34-1/2w x 34L. $285.

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.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! We also accept Venmo and I can send you a Square invoice (+3% fee) if you don’t use PayPal.

SOLD. #12. Catalina. Superfine indigo, native cotton. 38×43. $395.
SOLD. #7. Maria Lucia. 40×40. Indigo, iron oxide, beet, nanche. $395.
SOLD. #8. Andrea. 33×42. Guava, indigo, almond, gauze. $360.

This is the last sale from Las Sanjuaneras for a while. I’m going on a road trip to the Midwest on Tuesday and won’t return until October.

You may purchase until Monday morning. I will be doing the last mailing on Monday. Please don’t wait to decide! As you know, we sold out FAST on the last two shipments from this cooperative.

SOLD. #9. Patrocinia. 37-1/2×42. Indigo, marigold. $295.
SOLD. #B. Camerina. Indigo, mahogany, banana. 30w x 33L. $225
SOLD. #C. Andrea. Oak, marigold, indigo, natural. 33w x 29L. $265.
#10. Andrea. Marigold, chocolatillo. 35-1/2×24. $295.
SOLD. #13. Brisaida. 31×23. Beet, mahogany, indigo, iron oxide. $295.

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.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! so I don’t pay commissions. We also accept Venmo and I can send you a Square invoice (+3% fee) if you don’t use PayPal.

SOLD. #14. Patrocinia. 39×28. Indigo, mahogany. Gauze. $295.
SOLD #15. Andrea. 33×28. Indigo, marigold, mahogany, natural gauze. $295.

Read about the Las Sanjuaneras Cooperative here!

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 heat to iron if needed.

#16. Patrocinia. 38×25. Indigo and native cotton. $195.
#18. Aurora. 19×28. Nanche, mahogany, almond, beet. $195.
SOLD. #19. 21×23. banana, almond, indigo, mahogany, brazilwood. $195.

Return Policy: We support artisans and funds get transferred immediately. There are no returns or refunds. This is a final sale.

#21 Margarita. Marigold, iron oxide, beet, brazilwood. 22-3/4×35. $165.
SOLD. #22. Camerina. 20-1/2×26-1/2. marigold, mahogany. $165
SOLD. #17. Aurora. 21×23. indigo, banana, iron oxide. $195.
SOLD. #23. Andrea. indigo, brazilwood, oak, beet, indigo. 32×26. $295.
#24. Aurora. Beet, mahogany, nanche, almond, iron oxide. 38×22. $295.
SOLD. #3. Delfina. Iron oxide, indigo, natural. 34×32. $295
SOLD. #2. Brisaida. Beet, indigo, natural, 31-1/2×37. $325

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.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! We also accept Venmo and I can send you a Square invoice (+3% fee) if you don’t use PayPal.

Encore! San Juan Colorado, Oaxaca, Textile Sale Notice

This will be the last sale from this cooperative for a while. Perhaps until Christmas. I’m not sure. In fact, no more sales until mid-October when I will have more blouses coming from Chiapas and a few more rugs from Oaxaca.

Shop Opens Friday, September 11, 12 Noon ET

The texture of hand weaving — from dense to gauzy!

Tomorrow, Friday, September 11, I will have 20+ pieces for sale from the Las Sanjuaneras cooperative in San Juan Colorado, Oaxaca. We sold out the prior two-shipments in one day. So, get this on your calendar!

This coming Tuesday, I’m taking a break from the blog, from masks, from textiles, but not from Covid-19! I’ll be driving to Ohio and Indiana to visit dear friends — playing it safe on the road with mask, face shield, gloves (for gas stations and toilets), and plenty of hand sanitizer and alcohol spray. I likely won’t be back online until sometime in October.

Kaftans or Huipiles???

Fashionistas are telling us that in this Covid-19 era, we are opting for comfortable, free-flowing clothing that we can wear casually — for social distancing get-togethers, working from home or for lounging around. Lounge-wear is in, they say.

Designers are calling this clothing kaftans or tunics. Most likely because this is a style/name most American women are familiar with. Many designers, like those working with indigenous groups in Oaxaca and other parts of Mexico, have appropriated centuries-old textile iconography, branded the pieces under their own label, and are calling what they are selling kaftans or tunics instead of huipiles. Sometimes the woven cloth is cut up and incorporated into a design, something the artisan-makers don’t agree with. The prices can be in the stratosphere. Quadruple what you may find here. We call this cultural appropriation — a human rights issue, I think.

What is a kaftan?

What is a huipil?

What is a tunic?

All natural dyes: beets, mahogany bark, indigo, wild marigold, natural native cotton

My goal is to support a few women artisan weavers who live in remote, inaccessible areas, and who do not have an on-line sales presence. My goal is to sell to people who appreciate the hand-work involved and the time to take a garment from thread to finished piece using the back-strap loom, which is time consuming. My goal is to send funds directly to the artisans so they get paid immediately. I pay them when something sells so your purchase has direct benefit. I pay for shipping in advance so they have no out-of-pocket expenses. So, artisans and I have upfront risk to bring these treasures to you.

We appreciate your generosity and trust!

Why and How Long?

I’m not certain how long I will continue to do this, or if I continue, how frequently I will bring the pieces to the USA. Mostly, it depends on when I return to Oaxaca. It will be more difficult to receive and mail them to you from there. I’m thinking of going back this winter, but this is just a loose confederation of thoughts for now.

One example of 20 pieces we will showcase on September 11

I do this because I can’t think of any better way to directly help the weaving cooperatives I know and who we visit during our textile tours. Since the tours have been suspended for the foreseeable future, I think this is one of the few ways to continuing to give indigenous women a livelihood and purpose. It also helps to keep me focused and purposeful during these times when it is easy to binge-watch a favorite TV show or movie, to bake and eat, to stay in bed longer than I should!

In crisis, there is re-invention, adaptation and evolution. This is what I’m telling myself these days!

Thanks always for your caring, love and support for Oaxaca, for Mexico and her artisans. Con abrazos fuertes,