“So, why did you name the store, Zinnia Folk Arts?”
Did you know that zinnias are a flower native to Mexico? Zinnias come in lots of different colors and shapes and sizes just like Mexican folk art. I love the image of the zinnia and the possibilities for design and branding. They are annuals in Minnesota (maybe they are everywhere?) and we celebrated our first anniversary by handing out packs of zinnia seeds. We also are sending them to people who purchase something from the online shop through the month of May to celebrate our one year at 50th and Bryant in Minneapolis!
Flowers all types are pretty ubiquitous in Mexico…calla lilies, roses, poinsettas, marigolds…check out the flower markets in Mexico City if you are there. They are stunning! In addition to finding flowers in the fields, markets and homes of Mexico you will find flower images almost everywhere else. Flowers are a common motif in jewelry, in the many painted functional and whimsical objects of clay and wood and really, just about everywhere! And is it me, or do they all look like zinnias?
Ok, I guess these could be called roses. This bag was woven first, then made into a bag and it is really beautiful…
Folk artists also make them from paper. Tissue paper flowers are having a moment–take a look at Pinterest or any wedding blog. If you’re in the Twin Cities, stay tuned for the class we’ll be having at the shop on June 22–we’ll be teaching you how to make beautiful, tissue paper flowers. It will be part of the 50th and Bryant Street Fest from 12-3 that day…more details later!
I’ve just received some lovely bracelets, handmade in Peru, and they are made from old, faded textiles. They really provide a little spring lift to the winter that will never end–it literally is snowing right now, as I look out my Minneapolis window. Yes, it’s April 12 and there is a home Twins baseball game tonight–expected temp is 34 degrees.
I wouldn’t really call these bracelets folk art, but they are handmade, they do use local materials and they are based on a weaving skill that was handed down from generation to generation. I hope you enjoy them too! Definitely a little color on another snowy day.
Click on the photo or right here to purchase!
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.
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.