Love to write limericks? Or never done it before but would like to win one of the four amazing pieces of Mexican folk art in the photo?
As you know, our First Birthday is coming up soon and to celebrate we’re offering a choice of one of the four pieces pictured here (all valued between $150-$225) to the winning testimonial limerick. Here are the rules:
1. Write an awesome limerick about Zinnia Folk Arts and what you love about it.
1.1 You may submit as many as you like.
1.2 Relatives and friends may submit anonymously by sending via snail mail to Zinnia, 826 W 50th, Mpls 55491. Put a number on the limerick so it can be identified.
2. Submit it to Anne at info@ZinniaFolkArts.com by Sunday, May 5, 2013 at 4:00 CST either in the shop or online.
3. The winner will be notified on Tuesday, May 7, 2013.
4. All entrants agree to permit Zinnia Folk Arts to use their limerick testimonial in online and shop promotion, with credit.
5. The winner chooses one of the four pieces featured in this photo–large wood tigre mask, large hammered tin mirror, large wood hand covered on both sides with milagros or the large blue (no lead) Metepec platter
6. Winner will pick up the gift in the shop at 826 West 50th St., Minneapolis. If the winner lives outside of Minneapolis, the winner will pay for shipping costs.
7. Questions? Please ask!
Here’s some inspiration!
There was a young belle of old Natchez
Whose garments were always in patchez.
When comments arose
On the state of her clothes,
She replied, “When Ah itchez, Ah scratchez.”
There was a young lady named Bright
Who traveled much faster than light.
She set out one day,
In a relative way,
And came back the previous night.
The Huichol Indians of Nayarit, Mexico are amazingly skilled at beading. Here’s a shot of a few eggs that I have in the shop at the moment. The eggs are carved out of wood, then covered in a thin coat of beeswax, then decorated bead-by-bead. Truly lovely. Not available in the online shop because there are so few but if you’re interested in them, send me a note on the form below. They are $16 for the small and $21 for the large.
And below, is a photo of the amazing beadwork that goes into the bracelets. They move like liquid. Incredibly gorgeous. These are the last two Huichol bracelets I have at the moment and they are available right here.
Winston Churchill said many things well. And he commented on many things. But who knew he had an opinion about color? The esteemed Mr. Churchill said, “I cannot pretend to feel impartial about colors. I rejoice with the brilliant ones and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns.”
This post is in honor of the poor browns. They tend to take a back seat to their fellow colors, especially in Mexico. These textiles were discovered at the bottom of the pile, underneath the pinks, roses, reds, yellows, bright oranges and greens. They are a quieter bunch. I do think they have a certain beauty. But they don’t always stand out. They are good listeners. They don’t talk unless they have something to say. They shine when they are on their own. They never compete for attention.
Many of these camino de mesas (table runners) or placemats are woven of a natural brown cotton called “coyuche,” a word that comes from the Nahuatl word for coyote. On the other hand, it is possible that it is white thread dyed to look like coyuche, according to research done by an amazing textile archivist by the name of Karen Elwell. Her many photos of Mexican textiles and clothing are always instructional. Her Flickr photostream is right here.
The photos below are the textiles I currently have in the shop. CLICK on the photograph to take you to the shop. Some are in the online store, but if not, just send me an email on the form at the bottom and I’ll let you know if it’s available!
I couldn’t resist with the last photo. Brilliant color with the poor brown.
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!
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!
Are you unsure about how to build an ofrenda for the upcoming Days of the Dead? Here are a couple of examples from one of my trips to Mexico during Dia de los Muertos. Every ofrenda is unique and personal so don’t worry about whether you are doing it correctly or not. The main idea is to make an inviting altar that will entice the spirits of your departed loved ones to return to enjoy a few hours with you over November 1 and 2. Mexicans believe the smells of the flowers, food and copal incense are especially enticing. And the color of orange and magenta is traditional throughout Mexico. So here are a few ideas of what to include:
1. Marigolds: the color and smell of marigolds is believed to attract the spirits. But if you live in a northern climate, like I do, the marigolds are long gone! You can substitute yellow/gold mums or the magenta colored brain flower (if you can find it!). In the shop, I use lots of artificial marigolds that I collect at thrift shops over the year.
2. Candles: Whatever candles you have will suffice. I like to put out the Lux candles with the image of the Virgin on them because they color combination is so inviting. I also purchase the super long ivory colored candles in the Mexican market whenever I can so I carry those in the shop. I use them during my presentations about Dia de los Muertos 101 to give a little taste of the feeling in the cemetery on those special nights of November 1 & 2.
3. Papel picado: “Picked” paper or the cutout paper flags are found at all Mexican fiestas. The papel picado for Muertos usually has images of the catrina or skulls or says, “Dia de los Muertos” on it. It comes in multiple colors and multiple sizes. We carry it at the shop.
4. Sugar skulls: These are fabulous folk art pieces sold in the sugar markets that pop up about now in towns all over Mexico. Toluca has one of the largest and most famous but many cities have them and one can find lots of charming, unique, beautiful skulls made out of sugar. You can have the name of your loved one written across the forehead or not. I carry gorgeous sugar skulls made by a Mexican-American woman in the Twin Cities because they are so fragile and hard to get home in one piece.
5. Photos and favorite objects: Ofrendas include photographs of the deceased which in conjunction with the smells and colors of the flowers, candles and incense help the spirits determine where they should go to reunite and commune with their relatives. Many people also include the favorite foods or beverages of the departed. For children, a favorite toy may be placed on the altar.
I hope you enjoy building your own unique ofrenda to remember and honor your loved ones who have passed away. If you have any questions, just let me know! Click on any of the photos to take you to our online shop or stop in at 826 West 50th in Minneapolis.
The leaves are turning in Minnesota, the yellow mums and purple asters are blooming, the weather is getting cooler, and the wind is whisking in a new season. In Mexico the month of October is a time to begin preparations to entice the departed spirits to return for a brief visit during Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead. It’s a time to start thinking about the home altar, made by many Mexican families, to honor and remember the dead. It’s a time to start preparing the special foods, making the sugar skulls, conceiving of and creating the marigold decorations for the gravesite and the ofrenda, and for the candlemakers to make the gorgeous candles that will decorate the cemetery and the home. It’s both a private time and a public time.
Someone once likened Dia de los Muertos to a combination of Memorial Day and Thanksgiving. November 1 and 2 are a public acknowledgement of the important people in our lives who have passed on much like what we do for Memorial Day. And it’s similar to Thanksgiving in that families prepare traditional foods and follow familiar rituals like so many American families do for Thanksgiving. The traditional colors of yellow and purple are always associated with Muertos in Mexico and the smells of the flowers and the burning copal cannot be mistaken for any other time of the year. It’s a very spiritual time–derived from the ancient rituals of the Aztec mixed with some of the teachings of the Catholic church–a time when people express their love for those who’ve died through storytelling and building ofrendas or altars.
So, what about the folk art? Lots of skeletons, large and small, made of a variety of media, skulls made of everything including sugar and lots of embellishments like papel picado, candles, and flowers. The folk art is used to decorate the ofrendas and to remind everyone that death is part of life. It also can provide a little humor. We are thrilled to have a lovely rotating ofrenda in the front window created by a local artist, Liz Pangerl of Casa Valencia, LLC which incorporates many of the traditional Day of the Dead motifs and items. Stop in!
Some of these things are in the online shop and some are not. Click on the photo to take you to the online shop.
Let me know if you’re interested in a price or purchasing something via this handy form….Happy Dia de los Muertos!
Many times when people look at Mexican folk art pieces in the shop, they ask about the meaning. And many pieces of Mexican folk art are derived from a long tradition of carving, potting, beading and a history unique to the particular region or pueblo from which that item came. But there are also pieces of folk art that are just fun and whimsical and may have an attenuated connection to the past and to a greater meaning but are like toys in that they are mostly for pure joy and amusement. Some of the most colorful and unique pieces of Mexican folk art are categorized in the arena of “toys.”
Though some of the pieces are not meant for children to literally play with, other pieces are. “The Mexican toy world is full of delightfully fantastic objects and peopled with fanciful animals…If all the types of toys could be gathered in one place, they would constitute a great ensemble of beauty, grotesqueness and humor. There would be clay, glass and petate (fiber) insects, birds and animals of all sizes and colors, some with whistles in their tails; animals playing instruments, pigs adorned with flowers, tin rattles…There are many household toys—furniture of all kinds, tiny perfectly formed sets of dishes, mortars and stoves. Dolls and marionettes made from wood or paper mache are common in many regions. The make believe world of children is generally like the adult world, filled with beliefs in magic and miracles…”
Frances Toor, A Treasury of Mexican Folkways