Tag Archives: tour

Textile Tour in Oaxaca, Mexico, December 2024

Join us in Oaxaca from December 6 to 14, 2024, for a spectacular insider’s view of the textile culture and history of this World Heritage colonial city. We have created this experience in collaboration with Fiber Circle Studio in Petaluma, California, and owner founder Alisha Bright. Lots of touring plus hands-on workshops to keep you excited and engaged in the weaving and textile culture.

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

  • Visit to artisan studios in Teotitlan del Valle including silk and tapestry weavers
  • Participate in a two-day natural dye workshop
  • Learn or enhance your skills in a two-day tapestry weaving workshop
  • Travel to the mountain village of Chichicapam for a one-day spinning workshop
  • Discover key sights – Hierve el Agua, and El Tule, a 3,000 year old cypress tree
  • Visit important museums and shops
  • Wander the Sunday tianguis at the Tlacolula Market, a confluence of art, craft and more
  • Meet a red clay potter in her famous ceramics studio
  • Experience Virgin of Guadalupe parades in downtown Oaxaca
  • Show & tell your work, share your experience with the group
  • Enjoy a grand finale dinner with our group and leaders

Read more details here!

(No prior weaving or dyeing experience is necessary. This is open and valuable to all levels of fiber artists and fiber admirers.)

DAY 1 | Arrive, settle in & welcome! 

Arrive, travel to Teotitlan del Valle on your own, at your own expense. We will provide directions from the airport. Box supper available upon check-in at our upscale bed and breakfast inn. Overnight in Teotitlan del Valle.

DAY 2 | Introduction, visit weaving cooperatives, begin dye workshop

Breakfast, introduction to the textile culture of Oaxaca with a presentation. Morning excursion to 3 cooperatives and workshops to meet weavers in Teotitlan del Valle who create tapestries, clothing, and handbags. After lunch, we will meet at the dye studio and begin the process to create naturally dyed skeins of wool. Dinner will be at our bed and breakfast inn. Overnight in Teotitlan del Valle.

About the Natural Dye Workshop: Participants will dye an assortment of colors using various plants and overdyed techniques. Participants will dye 15 wool skeins of 100 grams, with enough colors and materials to weave a small sampler on our weaving day.

DAY 3 | Natural dye workshop – 15 colors; 15 skeins of wool

Breakfast. Visit the Tlacolula market. Lunch at local comedor. We’ll resume the natural dye workshop to dye skeins of wool exploring locally sourced plant materials of indigo, pomegranate, wild marigold, plus cochineal. The workshop will cover chemistry in dye preparation and techniques for over-dyeing. Box supper at dye studio. Overnight in Teotitlan del Valle.

DAY 4 | Spinning workshop, dip in the waters of Hierve el Agua

Breakfast. Excursion to Chichicapam to meet a family of spinners who work with only the finest quality Churro sheep wool. We will have an opportunity to spin yarn using the drop-spindle (malacate) and purchase handspun yarn. Visit to Hierve el Agua. Dinner on your own. Overnight in Teotitlan del Valle.

DAY 5 | Weaving workshop, ceramics studio

Breakfast. Morning weaving workshop – we’ll be working on a frame loom that will produce a sampler or wall hanging approximately 10” x 18” using the yarns prepared during the natural dye workshop. Lunch at the weaving studio. Afternoon excursion to ceramics village of San Marcos Tlapazola. Dinner on your own. Overnight in Teotitlan del Valle.

DAY 6 | Weaving workshop, visit El Tule, head to la ciudad de Oaxaca, optional Mezcal tastings!

Breakfast. Morning weaving workshop to continue working on and finishing projects. Lunch at a local comedor. Excursion to El Tule to see the ancient cypress tree and visit flying shuttle loom weaver. Dinner at Oaxaca Te Amo. Overnight in Oaxaca City. We will provide suggestions for anyone who wants to do Mezcal tastings.

DAY 7 | Textile museum and shops, Virgin de Guadalupe parades

Breakfast. Morning guided walking tour of Oaxaca textile museum and important shops. Lunch on your own and opportunity to see Virgin of Guadalupe parades in El Centro. Dinner on your own. Overnight in Oaxaca City.

DAY 8 | Show & tell, wander the city, final dinner

Breakfast. Discussion of community, culture, textiles, show and tell of weaving samplers. Lunch and afternoon on your own. Gala Grand Finale Dinner. Overnight in Oaxaca City.

DAY 9 | Hasta luego!

Breakfast. Depart on flights home from Oaxaca airport. We will help arrange taxi transportation at your own expense.

PRICING

  • $4,295 (per person/double occupancy)
  • $4,995 (per person/single occupancy)

REGISTER

  1. Please download this form, complete it and return it by email to norma.schafer@icloud.com 
  2. A $500 non-refundable deposit will reserve your space – you will receive an invoice after your registration form is received. The remaining balance will be due on August 1, 2024. 
  3. PLEASE TELL US YOU ARE REGISTERING DIRECTLY WITH OAXACA CULTURAL NAVIGATOR

CANCELLATION POLICY

For cancellations made on or before August 1, 2024, we will honor a 50% refund. Any cancellations after August 1, 2024, will not qualify for a refund. Details of the cancellation policy can be found here.

Read more details here!

Traveling in Chiapas: Charmed, I’m Sure

My friend Chris Clark writes a blog called Color in the Streets, and just reported on her recent trip to Chiapas with us in February 2024. Chris lives in Ajijic, on Lake Chapala, in the Mexican state of Jalisco. She talks about how this was a dream come true trip that she had wanted to go on with us since moving to Mexico almost six years ago.

I met Chris when we were both living in North Carolina and we became instant friends. She is selling her home in Ajijic and returning there to be with family and friends since her partner Ben died almost two years ago. Anyone want a beautiful home with lake view, casita and pool?

Chris offers us an in-depth, deep dive into San Cristobal de las Casas, a Spanish colonial Pueblo Magico that is in the highlands and our base during our exploration of textile villages and markets. Chris covers it all: restaurants and delicious food, recommended books that explore the weaving culture and techniques, and the mish-mash Santo Domingo market where you can find anything from high quality amber and textiles to imported schlock from China.

The tour is really an educational immersion for every traveler to be able to identify quality work and fair prices, as well as to meet makers where they live and work. What Chris does is give us her personal impressions of the experience. This includes a discussion about cultural appropriation and contrasting this with what it means to wear indigenous made clothing that we call cultural appreciation.

I hope you have a chance to read Chris’ blog and look at her exceptional photos. If you want to come with us to Chiapas in 2026, please sent us an email expressing your interest. We are building a list of people to give first notice.

Click here for Color in the Streets Blog

Pilgrimage to San Pablo Tijaltepec, Mixteca Alta, Oaxaca

The map says it’s just under five hours from Oaxaca City to the remote Mixtec village of San Pablo Tijaltepec. For those of us who traveled there last Sunday on our Mixteca Alta textile study tour, it seemed more like many more hours and a world far, far away. We were based in Tlaxiaco (Tla-hee-ah-koh), the administrative district headquarters for the Mixtec nation, which extends from the highlands to the Pacific coast. To get from there to Tijaltepec, we traveled more than two hours going up, down, across and through spectacular countryside dotted with pine forests along winding mountain roads where we climbed to 7,425 feet to reach the town of 2,750 people where 91% speak Mixtec, one of Oaxaca’s sixteen different language groups.

The village was an important one for us to visit on our textile and cultural tour because of the amazing smocking (called pepenado) that adorns blouses and dresses made there. I have been enamored of and collected these textiles for years because of their whimsical iconic designs of deer and rabbits that are featured on the bodices.

On this visit we also saw images of birds, ducks, turkeys, jaguars, and people. The smocking is all done by hand and it takes women artisans months to create one blouse. The work is apportioned by interest and skill. One person will make the smocked bodice designs. Another will make the smocked sleeves. Another will add very detailed embroidery around the neckline. Finally, one will assemble and will sew the garment together.

We will offer this Mixteca Alta Textile Study Tour, March 12-17, 2025. Send us an email to find out more!

We discovered Kintex Gonzalez Garcia in November 2023 when we attended Original in Mexico City. Original is an expoventa organized by the Mexican Secretary of Tourism under President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) to promote indigenous makers throughout the country. Over 1,000 artisans were invited to participate and were supported by the federal government. Over sixty-percent were textile makers. We identified Kintex Gonzalez Garcia by their quality, originality, and complexity. Since we knew were were traveling to Tijaltepec, we reached out to them to arrange to bring our group of fifteen travelers there. This is the first time they welcomed a large group!

They know this is not an easy journey to make and they are isolated. They so appreciated that we came to visit.

Their story is remarkable. Twenty-three years ago Natividad Garcia Silva, head of the cooperative, who learned to weave from her mother at eight, and her husband Geronimo Gonzalez, traveled to Santa Maria, California to live the American Dream. One of eighteen children, she was age 16 at the time. Natividad harvested grapes, strawberries and oranges. They stayed for ten years, cooking, cleaning, gardening, working construction. Their eldest daughter Maria de Jesus, now age twenty-two, was born there. What they found was struggle and difficulty making ends meet.

Thirteen years ago they decided to return to their home town and make a go of designing and sewing the smocked blouses the village has become so well known for. They named their cooperative Kintex, the name of Geronimo’s great grandmother.

One of their daughters went to university in Mexico City and graduated as a civil engineer. She began making contact with the Ministry of Culture and this is how Kintex was invited to participate in Original. Since this is a Usos y Costumbres village, they had to get approval from their community’s president to travel to Mexico City to participate. In traditional villages like this, most do not want to share their weaving and embroidery with outsiders.

Finding markets has been tough. Only lately, have they been able to sell beyond local consumption. Natividad and Germonimo both say there is a lot of need. Single moms and widows survive by selling their textiles and have an income. They both say, We like it that others wear what we make and it says that they value our work. Now, people know where these designs come from!

Social media is their main outlet for selling. They have both a Facebook and Instagram page that Geronimo manages and that their son-in-law, Maria de Jesus’ husband, takes videos for.

The women in the cooperative joined together to prepare lunch for us — pozole (hominy) with locally raised guajalote (turkey), accompanied by homemade tortillas and agua de jamaica (hibiscus drink). We all said it was the best we had ever tasted, anywhere! Natividad insisted on gifting us with this meal because we had traveled so far to visit them. After everyone had left the dining room, I asked her to sit next to me, to look at me, woman to woman, face to face. I explained that it was only fair and just to thank her with a payment for the food they prepared. That it took time, effort, and resources. I took her hand and put a wad of pesos in her palm. She began to cry, confessing this had been a difficult year for them, and we cried together and then hugged.

This is why we do what we do, this is why travelers appreciate coming with us. Because we care about the people who do so much for us, and we in turn, have an opportunity to do for them. This is not about giving a hand-out. It is about cultural appreciation on the most intimate, personal level.

And, of course, we all supported the cooperative with our purchases. It was an amazing day.

We will offer this Mixteca Alta Textile Study Tour, March 12-17, 2025. Send us an email to find out more!

Thanks to Donna Davis, Charlie Dell, Emily Behzadi, Joyce Howell, and Federico Chavez Sosa for providing some of the photos for this blog post!

In the Triqui Village of Chicahuaxtla, Mixteca Alta, Oaxaca

Our friend Shuko Clouse captures the essential emotion and experience of being in the Triqui village of San Andres Chicahuaxtla in the Mixteca Alta as she traveled with us this past weekend on a textile exploration seven hours beyond the city of Oaxaca. She writes a blog called Our Universe that is part of her Mano del Sur folk art site.

I encourage you to read it. It is a heartfelt expression for the Mixtec people, the textiles they make and the meaning in the cloth.

https://manodelsur.com/blog/our-universe/

The Mixteca Alta is characterized by eight thousand foot mountain ranges, pine forests, winding roads, and remote villages where women create traditional textiles on back strap looms. Here subsistence farming — raising corn, squash and beans — is the work of men, who have difficulty making enough money to sustain their families. This region has one of the highest rates of people in Mexico who migrate to the United States in search of employment. Many women are left to carve out a living to support their children alone in dire economic conditions.

Yet, the textiles they create are stunning examples of cultural heritage, pride, and commitment to their people. It takes as long as one year to weave this complex huipil that is symbolic of the Triqui people.

Here are a few photos to tempt you to come with us March 12-18, 2025. Write to tell us you are interested in participating.

Note: We are educators who guide you into villages to introduce you to the people with whom we have relationships. We give you cultural context and insights into not only the meaning behind the textiles, but identity, language, economics and way of life. Come with us to go deep, not wide.

The original Triqui huipil design was white and blue and dates back to 1875-1890. The red and white and multi-colors came after the Industrial Revolution with the introduction of synthetic dyes. The counting of threads today is exactly like they were then, made with hand-spun cotton.

We visit with Otelia and Yatali in their home and weaving workshop high up the mountain in a remote region where tourists rarely go. They have researched ancient designs and incorporate them into their cloth. Yatali went to Mexico City to study for a masters degree in textile engineering. She came back to her village because she has a deep attachment to her culture, is an innovator, and has continued the family tradition of being a textile activist. They have a small cooperative that is making marketable pieces like shawls, napkins, tablecloths, and throws for collectors and appreciators of their cloth.

They are also experimenting with natural dyes and are using Brazil wood, indigo, wood bark, and wild marigold to create a softer color palette.

Looking for Frida Kahlo + Diego Rivera in Mexico City: Art History with a Textile Twist

Arrive Thursday, February 27 and depart Thursday, March 6, 2025, 7 nights, 8 days

Come to Mexico City to explore the lives of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera through their art, and meet contemporary Mexican fashion designers who are making an impact on international style. This is an in-depth art history and textile education at its best! We offer you a narrated, leisurely cultural immersion that you can miss if you visit on your own. Our guides are textile expert Eric Chavez Santiago and bi-lingual Mexican art historian Valeria E. Small group size guarantees a quality experience.

You will learn about Diego Rivera‘s stunning Mexico City murals, visit Casa Azul where Diego and Frida Kahlo lived, and see the largest private collection of their work at the Dolores Olmedo Museum. Through their eyes, you will better understand Mexico’s political, cultural and social history, and the couple’s personal lives together. Theirs is a story of Mexico’s development as a post-revolutionary modern nation seeking to create its own distinctive identity based on Mestizo culture.

To register, send us an email expressing your interest, along with the completed registration form. A $500 deposit per person will secure your space.

Tour cost is $2,935 per person for a shared room, and $3,635 for a single room.

Our expert guide is a noted art historian who holds a master’s degree in art history and studied for the PhD at UNAM. She shares her passion for the Mexican Muralists, narrates the expedition, and leads us through these historic spaces to give you the most meaningful experience:

  • Palacio Nacional
  • Palacio Bellas Artes
  • Museo de Mural de Diego Rivera
  • Secretaria de Educacion Publica (SEP)
  • San Ildefonso National Preparatory School
  • Abelardo Rodriguez market
  • Casa Azul — the home of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo
  • Museo Dolores Olmedo Patiño

About Frida and Diego: She called him toad. He was 20 years older. They were passionate about life, politics, each other. They shaped the world of modern art and she became an icon in her own right, creating an independent identity that serves as a role model for women today. They were twice married and unfaithful, the subjects of books and film, and art retrospectives around the world.

Rivera’s mural at the Palacio Nacional (National Palace) covers detailed Mexican history, from pre-Hispanic America to the Spanish Conquest through industrialization, including the French and U.S. invasions, from 1521 to 1930. Her paintings express her physical and emotional pain and suffering, as well as her politics. It is said her style is Magical Realism. Some art critics have called her a Surrealist. We will talk about why.

In addition, we are true to our roots as textile experts, introducing you to contemporary Mexican designers and collaborators who are making a statement about creative fashion in this exciting, vibrant and innovative city. We will also dine at some of the city’s most notable restaurants that feature traditional and trailblazing cuisine.

Trip Includes:

  • 7 nights lodging at a respected Centro Historico hotel
  • 6 breakfast and lunches
  • gala welcome lunch at renown downtown restaurant
  • Grand finale dinner
  • entry fees to all museums
  • guided discussions by an expert, bilingual art historian educated at UNAM and Southern Methodist University
  • visits to studios + workshops of contemporary fashion designers and collaborators
  • exploration of textile and folk art galleries
  • transportation to Casa Azul and Dolores Olmedo Museum
  • complete travel packet and readings sent in advance via email

Preliminary Itinerary:

Thursday, February 27: Arrive and check-in to our downtown historic center hotel. Gather for a no-host dinner at 7 p.m. Please be sure your flight arrives before 3:00 p.m. to get to the hotel on time for check-in.

Friday, February 28: After breakfast, we are guided by our art historian for a visit to Templo Mayor, to understand the pre-Hispanic history of this region. Then we visit the Rivera murals at SEP (Secretariat de Educacion Publica), at Colegio San Ildefonso, and murals at the Abelardo Rodriguez Market, where social revolutionary followers of Rivera expressed their individual styles. We have a welcome lunch at an outstanding downtown restaurant. The rest of the late afternoon and evening is on your own. Meals included: breakfast and lunch. Meals included: Breakfast and lunch.

Saturday, March 1: After breakfast, we meet our art historian to visit the Rivera murals at the Palacio Nacional, then we make our way to see the murals at Palacio Bellas Artes, followed by a visit to the Rivera Museum to see the famous mural he painted encapsulating the history of Mexico, Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park. We will have lunch nearby, with an optional visit to the nearby folk-art museum. Meals included: Breakfast and lunch.

Sunday, March 2: After breakfast, we take a van ride to Casa Azul, the home of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. The Blue House belonged to Frida’s father, a photographer, and when the couple moved in, they expanded it. It is also where Trotsky stayed briefly after his exile from Russia. It is a treasure trove of her paintings, some of his, and their extensive folk-art collection. After lunch, we visit the Museo de Culturas Populares, a small gem in Coyoacan with an exhibition of traditional and contemporary hand made arts of Mexico. Then we meander the galleries and plaza in the quaint neighborhood of Coyoacan. We may even visit the Trotsky house museum! Meals included: Breakfast and lunch.

Monday, March 3: This starts our textile excursion in Mexico City! After breakfast, we meet with a noted Mexican fashion designer, Guillermo Vargas, in his workshop to understand how he is influencing contemporary style based on traditional techniques. Vargas was motivated by his Japanese heritage, and then founded the brand 1/8 Takamura, so named because his paternal great-grandfather was Japanese. Then we have lunch in one of our favorite restaurants, Azul Historico. After lunch, we have a special visit and a presentation of high quality hand woven textiles from Oaxaca and throughout Mexico in one of our favorite galleries. Meals included: Breakfast and lunch.

Tuesday, March 4: After breakfast, we visit the Dolores Olmedo Museum in Chapultepec Park. (This visit is subject to change as the museum is relocating. We expect it to be open here by the time of our visit.) She was the Rivera benefactor and executor, and he left most of his collection of Frida’s paintings to her. It is the largest collection of her work in the world. From there, we will go to a nearby neighborhood to visit designer galleries and shops. Meals included: Breakfast and lunch.  Meals included: breakfast and lunch.

Wednesday, March 5: After breakfast, this is a day to meander on your own. You might choose to visit the Museo de Arte Popular (MAP), the Franz Mayer Museum, shop the basement gourmet food court at mega-department store Palacio de Hierro, or see the Belle Epoque Tiffany stained glass in the lobby at Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico. We will meet in the early evening for our Grand Finale Dinner. Meals included: Breakfast and dinner.

Thursday, March 6: Departure day. We will help you arrange taxis to the airport. Meals included: None.

The tour does NOT include airfare, taxes, tips, travel insurance, liquor or alcoholic beverages, some meals, and local transportation as specified in the itinerary. We reserve the right to substitute instructors and alter the program as needed.

To Register, Policies, Procedures & Cancellations–Please Read

Reservations and Cancellations.  A $500 non-refundable deposit (first payment) is required to guarantee your spot. The balance is due in two equal payments. The second payment of 50% of the balance is due on or before August 1, 2024. The third payment, the remaining 50% of the balance is due on or before December 1, 2024. We accept payment using Zelle transfer (no fees) or you can make your payments with a credit card with a 4% service fee. We will send you an invoice when you tell us you are ready to register. After December 1, 2024, there are no refunds. If you cancel on or before December 1, 2024, we will refund 50% of your deposit received to date less the $500 non-refundable reservation deposit. After that, there are no refunds.

How to Register:  First, complete the Registration Form and send it to us. We will then send you a request to make your reservation deposit.

If we cancel for whatever reason, we will offer a 100% refund of all amounts received to date, less the non-refundable deposit.

All documentation for plane reservations, required travel insurance, and personal health issues must be received 45 days before the program start or we reserve the right to cancel your registration without reimbursement.

NOTE: All travelers must provide proof of international travel insurance that includes $50,000+ of medical evacuation coverage, plus current COVID-19 vaccinations to travel with us. CDC-approved face masks are highly recommended during the tour, especially in crowded areas.

To Register, Policies, Procedures & Cancellations–Please Read

Terrain, Walking and Group Courtesy: Mexico City is at 7,000 feet altitude. Sidewalks can be narrow and crowded. We will do some walking. Please bring a walking stick and wear comfortable hiking/walking shoes.

NOTE: If you have mobility issues or health/breathing impediments, please consider that this may not be the program for you.

Traveling with a small group has its advantages, and also means that independent travelers will need to make accommodations to group needs and schedule. We include plenty of free time to go off on your own if you wish.