Happy Valentine’s Day, Mexico Style!


Paper Mache Heart, Mexico


Let the festivities begin! | View From Casita Colibrí

Sunday in Tlacolula

Let the festivities begin!

July 11, 2013 by spixl

Monday, we returned to Teotitlán del Valle for the Fiesta titular a la Preciosa Sangre de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo — the pueblo’s most important festival of the year. While special masses have been celebrated at the Templo de la Preciosa Sangre de Cristo (the village church) since June 30, Monday’s convite (procession) by the unmarried women in the village, kicked off the more public events.

Lovingly decorated canastas (baskets) waited in the church to be reclaimed by their owners, placed on their heads, and carried through the streets.


Crowds gathered in the plaza in front of the church and sidewalks and streets along the route. And then it began — with solemn drum beats, fireworks, church bells, marmotas (cloth balloons on a pole), and a band.

Little boys (and a few girls) carrying model airplanes (don’t ask me why), paper mache lambs, and turkeys followed.

And then came the neatly organized rows of girls and young women.For over an hour they wound their way up and down and around the streets of Teotitlán del Valle. The weather was perfect, no late afternoon thunder showers this year, and it was glorious.

Stay tuned, the festivities continue all week. And, check out Oaxaca-The Year After this week for blogger buddy Chris’s photos and commentary.

via Let the festivities begin! | View From Casita Colibrí.

Flowers, flowers everywhere…

“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!

Zinnia Folk Arts Seeds

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?

Flower Covered Frida Kahlo Nicho Box

Michoacan Paper Mache Heart with Flowers

Flower Covered Lacquer Merry Go Round

Rose Covered Bag from Chiapas

Ok, I guess these could be called roses. This bag was woven first, then made into a bag and it is really beautiful…

Tissue Paper flowers from Mexico

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!

Build a Day of the Dead Ofrenda to Honor your Departed Loved Ones


Day of the Dead Art Ofrenda

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.

Dia de los Muertos Sugar Skull

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.

Dia de los Muertos Art Ofrenda

Day of the Dead Skeletons Do Everything in the Afterlife

Paper mache day of the dead figures

Handmade Day of the Dead Art before Dia de los Muertos

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!

25" Clay Catrina from Capula

Paper Mache Chefs for Day of the Dead

Paper Mache maracas for Day of the Dead

Lucano Ceramic Vase, Signed

Paper Mache Matador Skeleton

Mexican Skull Beads

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!

Folk Art Surprises Every Day in Rural Mexico

Fiesta Patronal de Santiago, Cuanajo

On Wednesday, while driving to Patzcuaro,my friend and I decided to take a side road to look for interesting new folk art. We happened on the Fiesta Patronal de Santiago in the tiny town of Cuanajo, Michoacan. Santiago is the Patron Saint of this little town. We parked the car just in time to see the parade of charros (cowboys) on their horses riding down the main street. We followed everyone to the sounds of the band,  to the church grounds where the Padre was giving an outdoor mass right next to this beautiful overhead display of papel picado.