Dear friends, I had such an exciting trip to Mexico this year. For two weeks, I traveled off the beaten path to do some swimming in a freshwater lagoon, birdwatching, kayaking, snorkeling, and exploring yet another Mayan ruin site deep in the Jungle. But I also visited some ‘touristy’ destinations. If you have never taken the ferry from Cancun to Isla Mujeres, you are in for a trip. Is is so much fun, and its a quick ride so there’s little chance of getting seasick. Most tourists probably never leave el Centro when they visit, or they are probably on a catamaran trip which also doesn’t allow for much exploration. But if you are a little more adventurous, jump in a taxi and explore the island. Yes, you can also rent a golf cart for the day, but I have found that a taxi is much cheaper and quicker if you are only headed to a few places.
On this trip, I stopped in to visit the Women’s Beading Cooperative on the island. These women make beautiful beaded jewelry – necklaces, earrings, bracelets, belts, and more. Most items are made by weaving tiny glass seed beads with nylon thread. Each piece is marked with the artisan’s name. When you purchase something, that artist receives 80% and the remainder is used for supplies. They also accept donations. I had brought over 1-lb. of Japanese size 15 seed beads as well as some Czech glass drop beads. Size 15 beads are rare in Mexico, so they were very happy to receive them! If you have the chance to visit this little shop, please do so, as you will be supporting the local community. These women work hard at creating some very unique jewelry!
At the end of the day, my companion and I went to Punta Sur. It is the southernmost tip of the island and it was one of my favorite places to visit. It had been very hot inland, so it was nice to catch some seabreeze here! At first, we thought there wasn’t much to explore here except Ixchel Temple and a sculpture garden. But as we made our way toward the tip of the island, we noticed that there were cliffside walking paths near the water’s edge which went in both directions. These paths are amazing and a little adventurous!
Once again, Mexico continues to surprise me. I already can’t wait to return! 🙂
Dear friends, long time no post! I have been off exploring the Yucatán and I have so much to share with you. This was my 4th trip to Mexico which officially makes it the country I have traveled the most. After visiting Mérida for a few nights (an amazing city!), my compañero and I took a bus to Valladolid. This is a small city in the center of the Yucatán, but it is very important to Mexico’s history. It is also very warm there as it is completely surrounded by jungle.
We arrived in Valladolid just in time to visit Casa de los Venados (House of the Deer). This is a private home which contains the largest museum quality collection of Mexican folk art in the country. There are more than 3,000+ pieces in this collection. The owners are kind enough to open their home every morning for a free tour (donations welcome!).
I had read a lot about this collection of folk art and I was very happy to have the opportunity to visit! This 18,000 square foot home is really a palace complete with beautiful open spaces, fountains, gardens, and a swimming pool.
I was amazed at the amount of art which was displayed in every room (there is even an entire room dedicated to Frida Kahlo). It is really a grand example of how one can make art appreciation a part of their daily lives. Of course, I was on the lookout for beadwork and I did find several pieces of Huichol bead art. Last year, I wrote a blog post about this art form which you can read HERE.
Folk art acknowledges the importance of what is sacred as a unique expression of a people’s perception of the universe. These works of art are primarily handcrafted for utilitarian or decorative purposes. A folk artist might be self-taught, or learn from other folk artists to create their own authentic works of art. This is different from ‘fine art’ which is generally taught and legitimized in academies.
At Casa de los Venados, the goal is to share with the community and teach that folk art is indeed something which the Mexican people should view with pride. They now conduct organized school tours to teach children about the art and handicrafts of their country. This is wonderful because in many cases the local children might never make it to a big city to view fine artworks. They now have the opportunity to learn about and appreciate the art that is all around them.
If you take a trip to Valladolid, definitely make time to visit Casa de los Venados as well as other historical sites around the city. Take lots of photos and keep an eye out for the Catrinas! :O
Dear friends, last month I traveled to Playa del Carmen, Mexico. This was my 3rd visit to the country. For those who have never had the opportunity to go to Mexico, I highly recommend visiting the Yucatan peninsula. This area is full of nature, handcrafted art, adventure, fish tacos, relaxation, and fun in the sun. For those who haven’t been there, I thought I would share a few photos of some beautiful beaded artwork I discovered along the way.
On my last night in Mexico, I visited Tierra Huichol, a gorgeous shop on 5th Avenue. This shop carries colorful hand beaded artwork made by indigenous Huichol (pronounced Wee-Chol) artists from the Pacific coast states of Jalisco and Nayarit. I had the opportunity to speak with the shop owner, Carlos, and he told me a little about the craft.
The Huichol people use mainly Czech glass seed beads because Japanese seed beads are just too perfect. First, an animal figure is covered with beeswax, then tiny glass beads are imbedded into the wax one by one to create these amazing designs. One of the main concerns is that over time, the wax may harden and some beads may fall off. I was told they are in search of a manmade material (similar to beeswax) which they can use to help reduce bead loss.
I think the most impressive thing about this art form is that the artist does not use a drawing or outline to follow. They simply use their incredible artistic vision and creativity to create one of a kind pieces.
I was given the chart above to learn about all of the symbols which can be found in the artwork. Then I shopped around for awhile, and I found a small beaded gourd to purchase. This piece features images of the Peyote flower and the Deer.
The next time you visit Mexico, look for Huichol bead art in small tourist shops and at the airport. These artworks are affordable and easy to pack in your suitcase, so find one you would like to bring home. Your purchase will help support the culture and livelihood of a very gifted group of artists! 🙂
Last week, I had the opportunity to travel to a much warmer climate – I went to Mexico! This was my first time visiting the country and it is just beautiful. It is very much like the paradise I imagined!!
I stayed in Playa del Carmen just south of Cancun. Of course, I went to the beach and did a few touristy excursions (Tulum, Xel-Ha, and snorkeling in Cozumel), but I also did a little shopping on 5th Avenue. Anyone who has already been there knows this is not easy. Bargaining is the name of the game, and everyone is trying to sell you something whether you need it or not. I was shopping for local handmade goods. I found quite a few shops selling many beaded jewelry items! I asked permission to take this photo of some beaded bracelets I saw:
Women who live in the tiny villages of Mexico make this beaded jewelry to support themselves and their families. Any purchase you make helps support the local economy, and is greatly appreciated. So, of course I picked up a few bracelets to take home. Which one do you like best?
On your next visit to Mexico, stop and look at the beadwork. Perhaps you will find something special to take home, too:)
Writing a blog post during a tropical storm seems as good a time as any.. It’s also a great day for packing up all my seed beads! Later this week, I’m moving from Quincy back to the city of Boston.
For the past 6 years I have been living in a tiny one-room studio apartment. I desperately need a bigger work space to create my beaded paintings, as well as more wall space to hang them! So, I found a new place in Brighton, MA – I’ll be moving there at the end of the week! I have decided to keep my Etsy shop open while moving, but I have temporarily deactivated all made-to-order items until sometime in September when my new beading work space is all set up.. Please check my Facebook page for any news updates during the transition. Thanks for your patience, and I appreciate your interest in my beadwork! 😀
My seed beads are finally all packed and ready to go with me on a 12-day trip to the Tucson Bead Shows! I plan to work on a custom order for my Etsy shop, and hopefullymy beaded Radio City Music Hall. I also brought a couple of small projects to work on in between. I will be working & selling beads during the day, but I think I’ll have time to do beadwork in the evenings. Do you think I packed enough? 😀
And, speaking of Tucson, here is your chance to win a trip to next year’s bead shows! Artbeads.com has just launched their ‘Road to Tucson’ Sweepstakes! The grand prize is a trip for two to Tucson, Arizona to attend the 2012 Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase! This awesome prize package includes round-trip airfare for two to Tucson, Arizona and 3 nights accommodation. The winner will also attend classes with well-known beading instructors and have access to the biggest shows. Spend 3 fun-filled days in Tucson surrounded by gems, minerals, fossils, beads and other bead lovers! What could be more fabulous?
Please join me on my
journey to Tucson by checking my Facebook
See you when I return! 😀