With a little help from your friends….

This blog originally appeared on THRUMS – (my publishers blog!)

Imagine a 6 month time-frame to write a textile travel guide to Mexico. Challenging and a bit scary, but I decided it was definitely possible. After all, I had been documenting textiles for about ten years in Mexico and was a frequent visitor to all the fiestas and markets there. It was all familiar and I had over 40,000 pictures.

Off I went last January to re-visit all the locations of the fairs and the very exciting markets covered in my book Textile Fiestas of Mexico. I needed to fact check with local experts and make sure my information was correct and fill in missing images. What I was slowly realizing was that I couldn’t do it alone. Guelaguetza, the colorful exuberant festival in Oaxaca, was in July, far beyond my deadline. While I had pictures from previous years, they weren’t the dynamic ones I wanted.
My Friends in Mexico

ejutla-.jpgGuelaguetza in Oaxaca, Mexico. Photograph by Alejandro Aquino.

Enter Facebook! Trolling through images of this Oaxaca festival, I stumbled onto a Facebook page for Guelaguetza, and there were the perfect images. The photographer, Alejandro Aquino, had a familiar style of composition and feeling that would fit with my style—one of being there and right in the front row! It took me awhile to get a dialogue going with Alejandro and to ask him to contribute to the guide, but we finally connected and he said, “Yes.” Then I got to pick out his images of the festival to fit my text along with the editor and designer who then did their magic.


Photographer Alejandro Aquino.

I met Alejandro Aquino in January for a short interview, which I hope will lead to further exploration of his work. He’s a young sensitive guy in his late 20s from Zinatlán de Alvarez, Oaxaca. He was an independent photographer for the journal Noticias Voz e Imagen de Oaxaca. Now he’s focusing his photography on el campo y realidad de la gente (the countryside and reality of its people), la pobreza (poverty) being one of his prime themes. El mar y el cielo (the sea and sky) strongly draw him in, too. I can’t wait to explore more of his images soon. Currently, Alejandro is a secondary school teacher in a town near Oaxaca.

Author and photographer Norma Schafer.

Norma Schafer, a friend and the person who invited me initially to stay in Teotitlan del Valle in 2009, contributed two dynamic market chapters to Textile Fiestas of Mexico. The first is about Teotitlan del Valle, the very important rug weaving center of Oaxaca, where Norma actually lives. She knows the complex story and who the best natural dyers are in a village of over 200 weaving families. Her perspective was essential to the guide.

An accomplished photographer, she took on my last assignment in Tenancingo, the traditional rebozo weaving capital near Toluca and Mexico City. She leads study tours and just happened to be visiting before my March deadline. Que Suerte! (What Luck!) Thank you, Norma. She did a great job and the images are super. Who wouldn’t want to go rebozo shopping in Tenancingo?


At the Teotitlan del Valle rug museum. Photograph by Norma Schafer.

Norma Schafer is a published writer and photographer and since 2006, she has offered curated study tours, workshops, and specialized programs throughout Mexico. Through Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC, she takes you beyond the ordinary to introduce you to Mexico’s most outstanding artisans who are off-the-beaten path and internationally recognized.
Her tours are limited in size to give you the most personal experience. Workshops and one-day natural dye textile study tours can be scheduled to suit individual travel plans. Norma has over 30 years of experience creating international award-winning programs for Indiana University, University of Virginia, George Washington University, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

YES, I met my deadline in six months, with a little help from my friends!

Textile Fiestas of Mexico: A Traveler’s Guide to Celebrations, Markets, and Smart Shopping is available at Amazon,  www.etsy.com/shop/livingtextiles (my shop) and at your favorite bookshop….(just ask them to order it for you!)

Meet me in person, get an autographed copy of her book, and learn more about traditional textiles of Mexico in a special presentation October 16th at Bella Frida, in Louisville, CO.



Teotitlan del Valle’s rugs & Tenancingo’s rebozos contributed by Norma Schafer

My friend and contributor Norma Schafer has posted on her blog, Oaxaca Culture, about  her contributions to my book  “Textile Fiestas of Mexico – a travelers guide”.  Norma covered two very important traditional textile centers included in my textile adventures in Mexico:  Teotitlan del Valle, the rug weavers of Oaxaca, and Tenancingo, the famous rebozo weavers in the Estado de Mexico, near Mexico City.

Here’s the link to her Oaxaca Culture blog and the whole story!!

Some lovely preview images  of Teotitlan del Valle and Tenancingo from the guide, to encourage you to go there!

Check out AMAZON to order this colorful HAPPY guide full of beautiful pictures and lots of helpful tips for a full-on artisan experience in Mexico.

Don’t leave home without it!


Textile Fiestas of Mexico – A Travelers Guide

This is for you lovely followers who have subscribed to Living Textile of Mexico and haven’t heard from me for over a year! I guess the question is…Why has my blog been deeply unattended?

The answer is…  you are conjuring up and writing a BOOK !

So I’m happy to announce, available October 2016, Textile Fiestas of Mexico – A Traveler’s Guide to Celebrations, Markets and good shopping by Sheri Brautigam. Published by THRUMS

This is something I’ve been working  unconsciously since I moved to Mexico in 2007 and starting documenting my adventures visiting fiestas and markets in the State of Mexico, Michoacan, Puebla, Oaxaca, and Chiapas. Particularly these places, as they have the largest indigenous communities in Mexico and therefore have the widest variety of traditional textiles. Of course, I was collecting and developing relationships with artisans in these places as I returned to some many times.

Then came the incubation period, beginning in 2011, when I returned to the states after four years in Mexico. I started thinking about how I could be helpful and promote these traditional artisans and the complex and amazing labor that they went through for each beautiful item I was seeing and sometimes buying. I started talking to museum curators and other photographers and authors in Santa Fe, NM, who I knew had undergone the process of publishing.

Honestly, for such a niche market subject, it looked unlikely I would find a publisher and publishing this information myself seemed rather a daunting task, but I hung in there. I made a pretty iBook sample with my best photos, illustrating the concept I was trying to develop and showed it around for a couple of years. I even sold some of these expensive little copies to a few friends.

At the Convergence Conference (2011) in Long Beach, CA, where I was presenting  a couple lectures on Mexican textiles, I bought a copy of “A Textile Guide to the Highlands of Chiapas” by Walter F. Morris, Jr.  I went into WOW-mode realizing there WAS a niche publisher out there. Who was THRUMS?  It took a couple more years before I actually connected with publisher Linda Ligon and she saw my iBook sample. Then another WOW moment and YES let’s do it! But in six months!!! My motto…just say YES!  Luckily I had already done most of the work, gotten most of the images and ONLY had to write it! (more or less)

Here’s my lively guide to where and when to go Mexico and what to buy ! It should be very useful to you textile junkies out there, who want to explore Mexico, and remember these places are safe to visit and also have great food and lodgings. Carry on, go there… and collect some wonderful textiles! Thanks for your patience.

You can pre-order on Amazon, NOW (so you won’t forget) or it could be in your favorite book store if you ask them to order some from THRUMS.





Quechquemitl – a totally unique Mexican garment

Exhbiti - Museo Textile de Oaxaca

Even thought this exhibit ran four years ago (Spring 2011) at the Museo Textile de Oaxaca, it was a splendid opportunity to see MTO’s superb collection of historical, refined, elaborate, colorful, and precious little shoulder and chest covering garments. Please, don’t call them ponchos! The quech-que-mitl (I’ve broken the Nahua word into syllables) is a garment unique only-to-Mexico and has been in production for easily over two thousand years. The story told is that quechquemitles were first observed historically in temple frescoes and ceramics of the ancient Olmec and Oaxacan cultures and later in codices.

Quechques in Codices

Quechques in Codices

In pre-conquest times it was worn as an upper-body covering by the priestesses and high born women who had access to the most sumptuous textiles. After the conquest this garment became widely used in the indigenous communities who adapted it, embellished it with their sacred symbols and made it their own. Although currently it is seen in only a few communities of central Mexico – Nahuas, Mazahuas, Purepeche, Hustecos, it is thought to have been worn in most villages in central Mexico after the conquest and before the European peasant blouse became common. It was encouraged by the Spanish, so that women would be covered to enter the churches and their group identity could be recognized. It is one of the first garments worn exclusively by women along with the enredo (wrap around and tube skirt) which I will blog on later.

Pre-conquest garments were woven on the back-strap looms and the full web was used. A web could be woven in various widths and lengths specific for enredos (wrap skirts) quechquemitles (capelets)  and manteles (large coverings). These webs were then joined together. To cut a hand woven cloth was to destroy its integrity or soul and spirit that went into its making. I managed to photograph the exhibit on several visits to Museo Textile de Oaxaca and following is a slide show of my favorites. In future posts, I will write about the two areas that I’ve explored that still use the quechquemitl: the Nahua of Cuetzalan, Puebla and the Mazahua of the State of Mexico.

The shortened pronunciation “Quech-que” is acceptable but don’t call it a poncho!! That’s a larger and more blanket-like garment.

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(BEST) Oaxacan Textile Shopping – Part II – Individual and coops

Around the Santo Domingo church are several individual shops with fine textiles. Out and about? Take a look at these!

El Nahual – 412 A Reforma (near and across from the Botanical Garden) El Nahual is a small coop of friends who present the best of their work. Master weaver Erasto ‘Tito” Mendoza’s exquisitely woven tapestries are highlighted along with some excellent San Antonino embroidered ‘Oaxacan wedding dress’ style blouses by Miriam Campos Cornelio…and of course some other non-textile artisania i.e. jewelry, wood carvings and an interesting secondary market of prints from famous Oaxacan artists.Toledo anyone? Definitely great stuff!!

Interior - El NahualTito weaving

Silvia Suarez – Gurrion #1110 interior 1 (across the street from southern side of Santo Domingo nr. Alcala) For over 10 years Silvia has been working with different textile groups throughout the state of Oaxaca. Artisans involved in her projects develop creative skills which are then transmitted into her clothing line that joins the contemporary with the traditional. Lots of great ‘younger’ innovative style dresses, blouses etc. Plus some wonderful accessories and gifts.

Silvia SuarezSilvias Store

Sivia’s Website  and YouTube presentation

A R I P O – 809 Garcia Vigil (located in a beautiful colonial building above Alcala)  The Oaxacan Institute of Artesania, is a state sponsored institute with multiple small galleries of fine artesania: ceramics, textiles, jewelry etc. Especially interesting to me are the textiles and I usually find some good specimens among the huipiles and blouses. Plus there is innovative jewelry coming directly from remote parts of Oaxaca. Different craft media is featured at various times during the year – so you never know what you will find here and you won’t see it any other place. Generally good quality and worth the visit if just for the colonial building alone. Climb the hill above Alcala.

ARIPO - outsideARIPO inside #2Detail ARIPO

(The BEST) Textile Shopping in Oaxaca City

Having recently lived in Oaxaca for 3 years plus many other visits over time, I’ve scouted out the BEST and highest quality Oaxacan textiles. The following shops are where I hang out and send my fellow textile junkies. Of course, there are LOTS of textiles EVERYWHERE  in Oaxaca, but even if you aren’t a collector, it’s a good idea to educate your eye with the BEST. Honestly, you won’t find anything better than the textiles here!  You’ll most likely be back to buy something as the textiles are that beautiful. I call the following stores —textile DANGER ZONES.

Baules de Juana Cata – Alcala 403  – entrance to ‘Los Danzantes Restuarant’ – inner courtyard to the right. Remigio Mestes’ store is chock full of the most gorgeous textiles in all Oaxaca. The last 15 years Remigio has been instrumental in revitalizing traditional back-strap weaving and natural dyeing, not to mention embroidery and use of finer base materials.  He has encouraged over 200 artisans (see picture) to create the most refined and elegant textiles probably in all of Mexico. To talk to Remigio you have to have luck and timing as he’s often out of town visiting his artisans or out of the country or traveling searching for better base materials (silks & cottons) or setting up exhibits in places like Japan. If your timing is right the best time to catch him is around 7 pm in his shop. If you are seriously interested in seeing (and possibly buying) the VERY best he will be happy to pull things out of his ‘baules’ / trunks that will knock your socks off!  He also has a very knowledgeable staff who look young but are very charming and capable of assisting you. He’s training the children of his artisans to be merchants and ambassadors of their traditional textile culture.

Museo Textile de OaxacaHidalgo 917 corner of Fiallo – two block east of the Zocalo –  The museum shop at Museo Textile de Oaxaca offers top quality textiles from Oaxaca and other parts of Mexico. GREAT stuff. The Museum itself  has an outstanding collection of Mexican textiles but seeing it will depend on what is currently showing. You might get lucky and be there for the monthly 3-4 day sales/demonstrations by visiting regional artisans, which is a great opportunity to buy directly from the artists. Please check the following link to see what’s going on. The museum also offers short classes in indigo dyeing, back-strap loom weaving, embroidery and other things textile related. Current classes will be listed on the site too.

Arte Amuzgo5 da May #217B– one block down from Camino Real Convent Hotel on the right. Odilon Morales, represents his weavers coop from San Pedro Amuzgos,and indigenous villages near the coast of Oaxaca. (see a little sign painted on the wall outside of his shop of a weaver at her back strap loom). Odilon is another innovative organizer/promoter of traditional weavers who provides the high quality threads and encourages contemporary color combinations. His weavers produce refined sophisticated huipiles and blouses sought after by affluent Mexicans and foreign collectors. High quality textiles from other weaving groups in the Oaxacan coastal area available too. Both Odilon and Remigio have been participants in the prestigious Santa Fe International Folk Art Market – so my best images of them are from this event.

COMING SOON  – PART II AND III – Textile Shopping in and around Oaxaca and Individual Artisan Shops….


Mexican Textile Presentation – March 13th, 2014 – Louisville, CO

I’ve been a bit tardy with my posts in 2013 and now March 2014 is here!

Collecting Mexican Textiles Presentation – March 13th – 2013 – Louisville, COLORADO

If you live near Denver/Boulder Colorado and want to learn more about collecting traditional Mexican Textiles and the excitement of finding beautiful clothing and textiles in Mexico …. you are cordially invited to Laura Lambrecht’s charming store BELLA FRIDA – on 924 Main Street, Louisville, Colorado. Come early and try on beautiful huipiles from Chiapas and Oaxaca as well as learn how to tie a REBOZO – the signature Mexican accessory shawl.

Trunk show opens at 6:30pm and the slide presentation around 7:15pm.

(720) 301-1645 – event questions


Aguatenango's huipi - Chiapas

Aguatenango’s huipi – Chiapas

Tehuana Women , Gala Outfits,  Isthmus of Oaxaca

Tehuana Women , Gala Outfits, Isthmus of Oaxaca

Amuzgo weaver - Florentina Lopez - Oaxaca

Amuzgo weaver – Florentina Lopez – Oaxaca