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!
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!
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
These lovely dancing ladies come from Michoacan, Mexico and are made of paper mache. I continue to be totally in awe of what Mexican artisans can do with paper and paper mache. They stand on their own, holding their skirts as they anticipate swirling. Remember? Mexican Day of the Dead skeletons do everything in the afterlife that they did while living. And they always do it with a smile. The colors of their dresses are lovely too–orange and blue, purple, pink and teal and pink with purple. $40 each.
You know that skeletons do everything that living people do, right? Well, they even get married! And more and more people want to include skeletons (especially smiling, happy skeletons) in their wedding plans. This happy couple would love to stand on top of a cake or on the head table at any wedding but especially those with a Mexican theme or a Day of the Dead theme. (Yes, people do that.)
Just look at the detail on these exquisite paper mache brides and grooms. The veil, the necklace, the soft green edging to her dress. And they even stand up on their own…the first couple is available, right here.
The second bride is also lovely and she’s available here.
During Semana Santa or Holy Week, the paper mache artists of Mexico make giant (9-12 feet tall!) paper mache Judas figures that look like these miniature versions. Or they can look like the town villain, the town bad guy or even mayors or shop owners who are not respected by the gente. On the night before Easter Sunday, they are loaded with fireworks, hung above the street and then ExPLoDed with everyone in the neighborhood/town/pueblo/vicinity watching. It’s their way of getting rid of the Judas figures in life…
Many people think they are devils because they have horns but, technically, they are called Judas figures. The horns just add an extra level of naughtiness to them. These smaller versions (anywhere from 24-28″ tall) are also made of paper mache, come from Mexico City and inspire lots of questions and big smiles. How do you like the green guy’s lucha libre boots?
As always, if you’re interested in purchasing, send me an email!
Come visit us and put a smile on your face…Celebrate the joy of the great country of Mexico… See the ART in folk art!
We’re open Tuesday-Friday 11-6, Saturdays 10-5
Closed on Sunday & Monday