“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!
There are some amazing silver artisans in the Mazahua area of Mexico, northwest of Mexico City. They have been making earrings for a very long time. They were deeply influenced by the Spanish conquest of Mexico in the 1500′s. When Spanish women arrived in Mexico they brought many new jewelry styles but in particular a style of earring that was crescent-shaped (arracada) and often wrapped in silver or gold. These styles took root in Mexican silver jewelry making and continue to this day.
One Mazahua silversmith told the author of an article on Mazahua earrings in Artes de Mexico, the meaning of the silver earrings. He said, “The stones symbolize the bright star that comes out at around four or five in the morning. The doves represent the husband going out into the fields to work, and his wife getting up to make atole. The flowers and leaves refer to the countryside, to nature. And the lines are the rays of the Sun.”
When the artisans learn to make these intricate earrings, they practice on less expensive metals such as copper and brass. Once they master the technique, they start using silver wire and silver sheets. To this day the elder artisans teach the younger. Unfortunately, not as many young people are so interested in carrying on the tradition. Like so many types of folk art, the Mazahua earring is at risk of dying out.
All of these earrings are .925 or 92.5% silver. Click on the photograph and you will be taken to the website. If you get a message saying, “This product is no longer available” that means they have been sold. So hurry!
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.
One of my favorite things to do wherever I am in Mexico is to visit the local market. In Mexico City, there are so many markets to choose from–all of them slightly different and all of them interesting. Yesterday I took the subway to La Merced, one of the largest mercados in the Federal District. It covers an entire block and then spills out into the streets. I took the photo below to show you how empty the subway station was on an early Saturday morning. The Metro is the best thing going in Mexico City. It costs 3 pesos to go anywhere and it’s clean, safe and speedy.
The Metro stops right inside the market so there’s no confusion about where to get off. Just climb up the stairs from the train and boom, you are inside the huge Mercado Merced. I like to wander a bit just looking at the fruits and vegetables, the zapatos, the plastic stuff, but my ultimate destination is always the paper products. There is such a huge variety in so many colors! Valentine’s Day is coming soon, so there’s an abundance of pink and red.
These decorations look like they are decorated with flowers but it’s paper!
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!
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!
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…