Capelo Mexican Handmade Ceramics

If you like Mexican ceramics, you may be familiar with the majolica of  “Capelo” from Guanajuato, Mexico. The pieces are made in the traditional way, on a wheel, fired several times at a very high temperature and in Capelo’s case, glazed with the most beautiful, subtle colors. We currently have  a number of Capelo vases in the shop. Here are a few shots…

Capelo Mexican Ceramics

Capelo Mexican Vase

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Mexican Ceramics, Capelo

Mexican Ceramics, Capelo

If you’re interested in any of these or would like to see more photos and get prices, contact us via the form below! Gracias…


Zinnia Folk Arts on Tumblr

Have you followed Zinnia Folk Arts on Tumblr? We actively post photographs of folk art and the great country of Mexico there almost every day…so if like the visual side of this blog or enjoy the color and vitality of Mexico, please follow us there! It’s much faster for me to post there too, now that the brick and mortar shop is getting busy for the holidays.  Take a look!

Zinnia Folk Arts on Tumblr


Hunting for Quality Folk Art in Mexico

You may know that I recently returned (last Monday) from a 12 day trip to Mexico. Everyone asks me if I had fun on the trip and I always have to pause just a moment before I say, “Yes, it was fun.” Because it is fun but it is also exhausting, exciting, difficult, frustrating, not relaxing, amazing, delicious, sometimes confusing and did I mention, exhausting? So many people associate Mexico with vacation, that I think it’s hard for people to imagine that I’m not sitting on the beach with a salty Margarita with Fernando!

I travel to Mexico several times a year to purchase folk art for the shop and I try to go somewhere new every time I go and I try to find new artisans every time I go. It’s the new adventures that are the most exhausting. The artisans I’ve visited before, I now  know where to find, I’ve figured out the logistics of how to get there, how to pack everything, how to schlep it to the shipper, how to get everything back safely without too much breakage or loss.

But, the new artisans are sometimes much more difficult to find, requiring stopping in corner grocery stores and asking addresses, stopping people on the street and asking if they know so-and-so, driving down narrow cobblestone streets, driving down one-lane streets then having to back out, asking people again where the person lives and then getting answers like, “Oh, he lives in the house with the wood door.”  Many of the addresses are something like, Mr. ABC, Calle XYZ, Sin Numero or XYZ Street, Without a Number. It’s not easy, amigos!

But also how rewarding! Many of the artisans I have visited are in very out-of-the-way houses in very out-of-the-way pueblos. The pleasure they have when I arrive (and the amazing warmth and generosity) and the pride of workmanship and of course, the excitement of being able to sell something lovely, more than compensates for the difficulty. And then of course the pleasure that these fine works of folk art give to my customers in the US,  is also a great pleasure.

Mexican folk art, Mexican ceramics,

This is a little family  that I found after asking 8 people in two towns and 5 different streets. It took an afternoon but as you can see, TOTALLY worth it.

How about you?  Have you had any adventures searching for artisans in Mexico?


Sacred Hearts In Mexican Folk Art

Alpaca Sacred Heart, Mexican Folk Art

The Sacred Heart is one of the most common motifs in religious folk art created in Mexico. The idea is that the physical heart of Jesus is a symbol of his divine love for humanity. The Mexican folk art sacred heart comes in various forms–with flames around it, with a crown, with a dagger through the center and sometimes with a crown of thorns–and all represent the same thing, Jesus’ compassion for humanity. In some Christian paintings it is depicted as a flaming heart shining with divine light, pierced by the lance-wound, encircled by the crown of thorns, topped  by a cross and bleeding.  The bleeding and wounds and crown of thorns allude to the manner of Jesus’ death while the fire stands for the transformative power of God’s love.

And of course, you know that almost everyone in Mexico is Catholic so these images are commonly seen throughout the country…

Mexican folk art, Sacred Heart

Here are a few interpretations of the sacred heart by some of Mexico’s folk artists. The two hearts above, hang on the wall. One is shiny nickel silver  (5″ tall) and other is a patina-ed nickel silver or alpaca (7″ tall). They are $38 for the shiny one and $28 for the darker one.

The two sets of earrings below are made of silver and come from Taxco, Mexico. The lovely crowned earrings are $38 and the pendant, $30. The stunning, oxidized earrings with lovebirds and a flaming heart are $78.  Click on the photo of the earring to take you to the online store.

Contact us through the form below if you are interested in purchasing the sacred hearts above or anything else!

To see what else we have for sale in the online shop, click here.

Silver jewelry, Sterling silver earrings from Mexico

Silver jewelry, Sterling silver earrings from Mexico, Sacred Heart


What is the Significance of Hands in Mexican Folk Art?

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked in the shop is, “What is the significance of the hand in Mexico?”

Hand motifs do appear in many pieces of jewelry and religious iconography from Mexico and though there is no absolute answer to the question,  here are a few ideas.

One of the most obvious answers is that the hand is so important to all of us in terms of making things (hand-made), performing, communicating, praying (especially when 90% of the country is Catholic) and in making us human. This is just as true in Mexico as it is in other places.  The heart in the hand (another common image in Mexico) is a traditional folk art motif, associated with the Shakers, the Amish, and the Pennsylvania Dutch.  It is widely considered to symbolize charity, or to mean something is “from the heart”. Others consider it to represent friendship, love and truth.

The hand motif in Mexican jewelry probably increased after Pablo Picasso’s gift of the silver hand-shaped earrings to Frida Kahlo in the 1930’s or 40’s. She painted herself in them and many nicho boxes and retablos created around Frida’s image contain those famous paintings. Some Mexican artisans make beautiful hand-shaped earrings.

Here are a few pieces we currently have in the shop that can give you an idea…

Nickel Silver Frida Kahlo Necklace & Earrings, Zinnia Folk Arts

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Contact us for this lovely wooden hand covered on one side with milagros. It is $58 and measures 7″ by 4.35″ wide.

Guadalupe EArrings, Zinnia Folk Arts

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This beautiful and amazing carved hand is covered on both sides with milagros. It costs $166 and measures 10.5″ tall by 4.5″ wide.

Nickel Silver Frida Kahlo Necklace & Earrings, Zinnia Folk Arts


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!


Silver Mexican Earrings Made by the Mazahua

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!

Mexican Silver Earrings, Mazahua Mexican Silver Earrings, Mazahua Mexican Silver Earrings, Mazahua Mexican Silver Earrings, Mazahua Mexican Silver Earrings, Mazahua Mexican Silver Earrings, Mazahua