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Norma Writes for Selvedge Magazine Issues #89 + #109
Creating Connection and Meaning between travelers and with indigenous artisans. Meet makers where they live and work. Join small groups of like-minded explorers. Go deep into remote villages. Gain insights. Support cultural heritage and sustainable traditions ie. hand weaving and natural dyeing. Create value and memories. Enjoy hands-on experiences. Make a difference.
What is a Study Tour: Our programs are designed as learning experiences, and as such we talk with makers about how and why they create, what is meaningful to them in their designs, the ancient history of patterning and design, use of color, tradition and innovation, values and cultural continuity, and the social context within which they work. First and foremost, we are educators. Norma worked in top US universities for over 35 years and Eric founded the education department at Oaxaca’s textile museum. We create connection and help artisans reach people who value them and their work.
Why We Left, Expat Anthology: Norma’s Personal Essay
We Contribute Two Chapters!
Meet Makers. Make a DifferenceOaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC has offered programs in Mexico since 2006. We have over 30 years of university, textile and artisan development experience. See About Us.
Programs can be scheduled to meet your independent travel plans. Send us your available dates.
Designers, retailers, wholesalers, curators, universities and others come to us to develop artisan relationships, customized itineraries, study abroad programs, meetings and conferences. It's our pleasure to make arrangements.
Select Clients *Abeja Boutique, Houston *Selvedge Magazine-London, UK *Esprit Travel and Tours *Penland School of Crafts *North Carolina State University *WARP Weave a Real Peace *Methodist University *MINNA-Goods *Smockingbird Kids *MINNA *University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Tell us how we can put a program together for you! Send an email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Humble Apron Elevates to Fashion Statement and Identity in Oaxaca, Mexico
Here in the Tlacolula Valley, and most villages surrounding the city of Oaxaca, the apron is more than a utilitarian article of clothing used to protect the wearer’s garment from getting soiled. It is a statement of identity, style, and social class.
Tlacolula market scene with women’s aprons as personal and village identity.
Walk around the Tlacolula Market on Sunday, or any day for that matter, and you will see women, old and young, covered in aprons. You can identify their villages by apron style.
For example, women from San Miguel del Valle wear a bib apron with an attached gathered skirt that has a heavily embroidered hem. The aprons worn by women from San Marcos Tlapazola are cotton with pleated skirts often trimmed in commercial lace or bric-a-brac.
Evaluating apron style, quality and price. Do I really need a black one, too?
Teotitlan del Valle women prefer gingham cotton aprons with scalloped bodices and hems, trimmed in machine embroidered flowers, plants, fruits and sometimes animal figures.
There are fancy aprons, more densely embroidered for Sunday wear and special fiestas, and simple ones for everyday to cook, wash clothing and tend to babies, grandchildren and guajolotes.
He likes to cook, too. Having fun in the Tlacolula market.
The apron is worn by grandmothers and granddaughters alike. It is a uniform that conveys personal identity, social status and wealth. The heavily embroidered apron cost much more, as much as 350 pesos compared to the everyday 150 peso variety.
Rosario wears her apron with hand embroidered bodice
You would want to wear your fanciest apron to the market to bring the oohs and aahs from contemporaries who admire your choice of color and design. Market day, a daily occurrence in Teotitlan del Valle and a regional weekly event in Tlacolula, is the social center for towns and villages. It is the time when women greet and mingle with each other, some even sneaking off together for a morning mezcal.
Apron as fashion statement! Who needs a fancy dress?
When you get home, you change to the daily apron for working.
Aprons are handy because they have deep pockets. Perfect for holding the coins of commerce. They are also convenient because you don’t have to wear a bra.
There are about eight different apron vendors in the concrete building of the permanent Tlacolula market. One of my favorites is along the exterior aisle closer to the bread section. They are from San Pablo Villa de Mitla and the machine embroidered aprons are filled with fanciful images of birds, fruit and flowers.
Rocio, left, demonstrates how this apron looks. She is proud of their work.
Every apron is different. You need to try on at least several to compare size and quality. Make certain there are no stains and that the embroidery around the neck and the pocket placement is even.
One for her, one for him!
Posted in Cultural Commentary, Textiles, Tapestries & Weaving
Tagged aprons, class, clothing, cost, Embroidery, fashion, identity, Mexico, Oaxaca, social status, Tlacolula market, Women