Some of these items are on the website–click on the photo and it will take you there. If it’s not on the website and you’re interested in purchasing, let us know through this form!
I thought you might be interested in the most recent look at how we like to display Mexican folk art at Zinnia Folk Arts shop! We wanted to move the holiday decorations out so I decided to put the vintage (1960′s White Period) Heron Martinez tree of life in the front window and build a colorful support cast of a variety of Mexican crafts. The color is so welcome during these grey days in Minnesota…it’s actually raining today. Enjoy the photos and of course, if you’re in Minneapolis, stop in. We’ll be waiting for you. Saludos!
One of the popular arts for which Mexico is most famous is the wood carvings of Oaxaca. In fact, if people only know one thing about folk art from Mexico, it’s usually about the wood carvings or “alebrijes” which they’ve seen at the beach resorts or airports of coastal Mexico.
The carving of masks and children’s toys in the Oaxaca area dates back hundreds, if not thousands of years, but the current expression of wood carvers in Oaxaca’s surrounding villages was started in the small town of Arrazola by Manuel Jiménez in the late 1950′s. Now, three tiny villages –Arrazola, San Martin Tilcajete, and La Union–are known for their carvings and carvers. The lives of these artisans are not easy. Oaxaca is one of the poorest states in Mexico and most of the carvers living in these villages are subsistence farmers and carve their beautiful pieces for extra income.
A few carvers have done exceedingly well and are world-renowned. This is true for Jacobo Angeles whose amazing work can take months to complete. He employs many, many family members in his lovely home in San Martin Tilcajete. His taste and ability are exquisite and his carvings are highly regarded and highly sought after. We carry the beautiful carved hummingbirds as seen below:
Jacobo’s sister, Roberta, carved this stunning nativity set and it too is exceptional in its concept and execution. Truly a unique and collectible piece.
There are many, many very skilled carvers in Oaxaca and I wish I could feature all of them. I plan to feature others in the days ahead.
Today, I want to recommend a couple of carving families in addition to the familia Angeles, and those are first, Flor and Abad Xuana and second, Aurelia and Juventino Melchor. In both of these families, the man does the carving and the woman does the painting. And in both cases, each person is an artist extraordinaire!
I’ve carried the carvings of the Xuanas before and they will always be some of my favorites. Flor is one of the tiniest people I’ve ever met and one of the most lovely. This photo was taken at the Day of the Dead show in Oaxaca.
Here are some of the lovely pieces that I purchased from Flor and are now available at Zinnia Folk Arts.
There is another couple from San Martin Tilcajete who does very nice work. They are named, Juventino and Aurelia Melchor. I especially fell in love with their bunnies and have quite a few of them in the shop. Here are two in the website shop…
For more information about Oaxacan wood carving and carvers as well as the inevitable politics of it all, you can read, Oaxacan Woodcarving by Shepard Barbash (1993). Another writer is Michael Chibnick and his book is Crafting Tradition: The Making and Marketing of Oaxacan Wood Carvings.
As always, if you have any questions, please ask!
This is the season for pinatas in Mexico. Big ones, small ones. The pinata maker in town will make lots of different ones to be purchased by families who will host the procession of visitors who go door to door looking for shelter–just like Mary and Joseph did so many thousands of years ago. The “Posadas” started yesterday, December 16th and will proceed every night until December 24th. The party at the last house will include the pinata game for children (and some adults). The pinatas traditionally have a clay pot in the center and then paper mache surrounding the pot and the star points. They come in lots of colors and sizes and designs and they are always a treat to see. Most public spaces will feature giant pinatas as decorations and they are especially gorgeous.
I have been embellishing pinatas since I started Zinnia Folk Arts several years ago and have several in the front of the store that I use for decoration. Over the years people have asked me to make them for their parties, bridal showers or weddings. This very pink pinata in the after photo is going to decorate a very sweet young girl’s room. I thought you’d be interested in seeing the before picture and the after. It used to be a Minnie Mouse pinata and now is a pink and green confection. Enjoy!
Here’s the before:
And here’s the after!
In Mexico, December 12 is the Fiesta of la Virgen de Guadalupe. Pilgrims from all over Mexico walk, ride buses, drive, ride bikes and even walk on their knees to arrive at the Basilica of Guadalupe that was built on the hill where Juan Diego saw the Virgin three times in the 1500′s. The tilma that was seen by Juan Diego is preserved in the Basilica and many, many people make pilgrimages to see it and to pray for help of all kinds. But it’s not just in Mexico City that people remember and celebrate her today–it’s everywhere in the country.
Guadalupe is a world-famous icon of the Virgin Mary. She is fondly known as the “Queen of Mexico.” Her image can be found everywhere in Mexico. She’s recognizable by the golden rays that surround her image and by the little cherub at her feet.
Here’s a photo of the original Basilica de Guadalupe in Mexico City.
Yes, it’s sinking! That’s partly why a new Basilica was built to the left of this photo. I like the old one better.
Light a candle and leave it outside one of several chapels on the Tepeyac Hill.
We carry 5″ tall Lux Candles. Take off the tissue paper and the lid, light it and wait for the image to be illuminated by the flame (it will take a while).
Folk artists use her image in every imaginable way and express their love and admiration for her through their media.
This is the Virgen de Guadalupe according to the Purepecha people of Michoacan. The whimsical Guadalupe wall plaque was made in Ocumicho.
Wooden bateas (carved trays) painted with the Virgin’s image come from Michoacan. These are decorative and are meant to be hung on the wall or set in a holder for display.
This is a reverse glass painting of la Virgen. The technique is an old-fashioned one but is being revived by a Mexico City artist, Manuel Bauman.
This is a large and lovely retablo with many saints on wood and painted in Michoacan. Available in the shop or by email!
This gorgeous tin cross decorated on the inside with Guadalupe and the symbolic roses comes from Oaxaca. Available in the shop or by email!
Nickel Silver earrings with the image of the Virgin available here.
And of course decorative boxes! These are especially lovely and very unique. They are from Mexico City. Available in the shop or by email.
As I’ve mentioned before, Mexico is predominantly a Catholic country (over 90%). So, much of the handmade folk art from every region is related to either the Virgin of Guadalupe, believing in miracles, wishing and hoping for protection from the bad, thanking God for the good, remembering the dead or expressing one’s faith. As we get closer to Christmas, the Christmas markets will start popping up allowing one to buy all kinds of decorations and food related to Christmas.
People buy complete nativity scenes in Mexico but there is also a tradition that happens in other parts of the world–buying the nativity scene one piece at a time. If you go to the Christmas markets you’ll see Baby Jesus in all kinds of sizes and colors as well as the lambs, cows, mangers and other nativity figures. You can purchase one or all or simply add on to your nativity scene every year. Jesus is also purchased separately because he doesn’t appear in the scene until December 24th…the Three Kings are added to the nativity on January 6th.
As always, if you have questions or would like to purchase any of these Mexican nacimientos, just let me know!
Here are a few examples of Mexican folk art in the shop for the Navidad season. There are lots of unique pieces–teeny little glittered Virgin of Guadelupe ($12) the beautiful large, Oaxacan, painted wall ornaments ($45), unpainted tin lumenaria in two sizes ($15 and $20), lovely tin pop-up nativity scenes inside a narrow box ($36), tiny little nacimiento boxes from Puebla ($18) and an amazing clay advent wreath from Izucar de Matamoros ($145).
None of these things are on the website but any of them can be purchased. Just let me know if you would like something. We ship all over the world!
We are starting to unpack the textiles that would look fantastic for the holidays…on a table, on a wall or even used as fabric to cover a lampshade, make an iPad case or upholster an ottoman. Most of these beautiful hand woven pieces hail from Chiapas, Mexico.
Any of the above would be amazing for making an iPad case…I haven’t done it yet but I think it’s a great idea!
This beautiful blouse is red and white. It’s not on the website but is a Small/Medium Size and is $88. Hand made in Mexico, of course!
Any other questions, send me an email or if you click on the photo it will take you to the web page where you can purchase…
Living and being in Oaxaca during the Días de los Muertos is hard to put into words. There is so much to experience and to think about. Sensory overload challenges the limits of heart and mind and my emotions are running the gamut from extreme exhilaration to a quiet joy to being moved to tears.
The latter occurred a few days ago, when I walked up to the Templo de Santo Tomás in Oaxaca's Xochimilco barrio (neighborhood) where an "altar decorating" contest was in progress.
Public installations of folk art take many forms in Mexico. As I’ve said before, folk art is handmade, it is regional, it’s made of material available in one’s community, the methods are passed down from generation to generation and it expresses a community belief or value.
Here a simple bouquet of cockscomb attached to a traffic light in the middle of downtown Puebla not only provides passersby with a dab of beauty, but reminds everyone who passes, that a life was taken at this location. Someone died here. It raises our awareness that death is out there. In Mexico, death is not shoved into the back room. Death is a part of life and the Days of the Dead are a time to remember, both privately and publicly, those loved ones who have died.
Someone else died here.
One sees bouquets and shrines built along the roads and highways of Mexico all year long. But during these special days of November 1 and 2, spontaneous eruptions of bouquets of marigolds and cockscomb appear in the cities and pueblos, reminding all of us that we are a mortal people and that life goes on after death.