Wednesday, March 18, 2009


This lovely woman is Lola, one of the 12 local sewing ladies that I work with each Monday. She makes these beautiful dolls that make the most wonderful pincushions. Last year the little bit of constructive criticism we gave her was to mix up the patterns and textures on her dolls.....not to worry about contrasting colors and checks and stripes. So she took our advice and now her dolls have personality plus! My friend just ordered these 5 from Lola and I just had to get a photo before delivering them.


The theme chosen for February's quilt journal was "page 63"... finding meaning or inspiration in the written word and putting it to fabric.

It has been a busy winter for me here in Mazatlan....I have found a sufficient amount of interest in my dyeing classes to keep me more than busy and I am also trying to produce a few pieces each month. Then there's social life, exercise (okay, I admit not much of that these days...but tomorrow, yes!), cooking, and of course, my husband, who I've been consistently "kickin' ass" in our nightly crib games. That said, my book choices for "page 63" were met with slim even being my spanish-english dictionary! BUT I opted for p. 63 in my North American bird book where the red-breasted merganser jumped out and said "make me!" So I did!
My last class was yesterday and I just used up the last of my white cotton that I bring with me, so now I hope to get back to a good book or two before I leave at the end of April (along with two more themes!). I have to say, I love my quilt journal. It is now up to 7 pages and certainly worthy of coffee table browsing. Thanks again for organizing, Barb!


Another season has come to a close and in this case we finished and topped it off with an eager duo from Toronto who came for dyeing info, practice and fun! Rosemary and Cheryl were energetic and enthusiastic and I believe they'll be carrying their new craft with them up to fellow guild members and sharing the wealth!

Typically I am gloved up and either in demo or washing mode, so don't take the time for photos. Rosemary took notes and photographed EVERYTHING and I so love to have that systematic mode going on in my classes. She and Cheryl even studied our original processes, along with a book I lent them, and came back for a day of practice on their own. They are on their way to becoming successful dyers!

Here is a soft parfait of Cheryl's that she gently agitated in a jar. Just a gentle turn to get those pastels flowing and mixing...but not too much!

And our "filter wraps" emerged unique and beautiful and full of light! They are always such a joy to unwrap and wash!

I always give a disclaimer when I show traditional tie-dye with rubber bands...images from the 60's may pop in your head...but oh, how beautiful they turn out. I have never had a disappointed customer. I love to cut out the lovely circles and use them for flowers!

And our palettes of color are the perfect foundation for the next project.

Rosemary and Cheryl are just two of the many happy dyers I've met this winter. What a great life I have along with such an interesting set of new friends.

AND I would be teaching, right up to the bitter end (departure for lands north is April 25th) but the cotton and black dye is totally GONE! Oh well, I guess it's time to replenish....materials, the spirit, ideas, etc., and get back at it next December.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


It has been at least two weeks since my trip to Oaxaca. Somehow time got away from me for sharing my adventures there. I experienced five busy days of drinking in this beautiful city, full of culture, specific crafts from outlying areas, the magic of ancient ruins, terrific food, and sharing it all with 9 women friends from Mazatlan. We shopped, walked, explored, laughed and ate. I played bridge each night. I acquainted myself with the opportunities available at the Textile Museum (for future reference!). I treated myself to a traditional herbal steam bath and massage. I celebrated my 56th birthday with my friends.
One of my fellow travelers (Gracias to Bev Kreutzer!) has written a more detailed account that I share here, with her permission:

The moment you arrive in this city you can feel the draw of a culture that is different from the area where we live in Mazatlan. This is the joy of Mexico. It offers us such diversity. And so it was ours to enjoy these days. It is a living cultural center, this Oaxaca City. It is an open air museum and the capital of the state of Oaxaca. Their markets are world famous. Churches dot the city. And everyone loves the Zócalo. Within hours of arrival we had broken down into smaller groups and quickly marked out our individual areas of interest. Of course one had to stop for lunch and people gazing in the city square.
Early the next morning we began a tour of the craft villages surrounding Oaxaca. We started our day in San Martin Tilcajete. It is a village known for its wooden hand-carved and brilliantly painted animals often referred to as alebrijes. We first visited the workshop of what is said to be the best in the state, of Jacobo and Maria Angeles, for a fascinating demonstration of the total process. We learned of the utility of natural pigments for paints, the different uses of the male and female copal tree including trunk, bark and sap, and the importance of Zapotec designs for symbolism.We moved on to the cotton textiles of Santo Tomás Jalieza. We were able to see the results of the women’s weavings using a back strap loom. There were the most colorful table runners, placemats, purses and much more. Their embroidery skills were very much in evidence. Next in evidence were the homes and workshops of the Aguilar sisters with their brightly painted clay figures.Close by was the Ocotlán market. For sure, we could not leave without a few purchases from that location. The colorful aprons were my purchase of choice.

We stopped for lunch where we enjoyed the local cuisine and our first taste of mezcal. Our travel van was getting pretty full but we had more places to go and more things to see. Coming up was a most important stop in the black pottery village of San Bartolo Coyotepec. There we had a demonstration of the technique and its history by Don Valente Nieto, son of the late Doňa Rosa. It was fascinating to watch this 80 year old man produce a vase almost totally by touch as it appears his eyesight is failing.
Our final stop brought us to the rug village of Teotitlán del Valle. In this rug workshop we saw how the rugs are produced. The quality of the rugs and other products are outstanding. Oh, I was sorely tempted many times! It had been a wonderful tour with Alvin Starkman, a very knowledgeable tour guide who added much to the enjoyment of the day.We stumbled out of the van packed down with parcels and eager to do a show and tell.
Next day groups did their own thing, some visiting museums and art galleries. One took in a t-shirt dyeing workshop. Others went to visit an organic market. Some went to visit Monte Alban. The legacy of the Zapotec world comes to us through this magnificent archaeological site. It is of enormous importance because of its economic, political and religious focal point. Firstly, it is important because of its size and also because of its long life which began in about 500 BC and ended around 850 AD. It is awesome standing in these spots and just imagining what life was like and how this tremendous work was accomplished.
The following day found a group of us at a cooking class where we learned about the wonderful art of Oaxaquen cooking. First of all, we discussed the menu of the day and were brought to understand the importance and different flavors of the dried chilies. A short walk to a regional market followed where we picked up the produce for the day. After returning to Casa Crespo, José taught us in short order how to make nine different types of salsas. While busily cooking, we took time to enjoy these salsas with cheese quesadillas and stuffed squashed blossoms. After these appetizers we learned to make two different types of moles, alemendrado and coloradito. These moles were served with chicken and shrimp. Finishing off the meal, we were tempted with home made chocolate ice cream. All in all, this was a wonderful experience shared with new friends.
The next day brought one more wonderful experience. I took time to go a short way out of town with a favorite friend, Mary. What a morning! This was an unforgettable indigenous experience in the ancient ritual of Temazcal or bath house. It was supposed to be a unique holistic therapy for cleansing, detoxifying, and purifying my mind, body, and spirit. I don’t know if this was totally accomplished but I do know that it was an amazing happening which brought calm to my body and soul.
And so our days in Oaxaca passed quickly. Each day included a trip to many shops and after the daytime events ended, hours were spent at wonderful relaxing dinners. The evenings often ended with bridge games and quiet (sometimes) conversation. Some of our group went for an after dinner drink and were surprised to hear the lovely Lila Downs singing. What excitement!
I would urge each of you to take time to travel with girlfriends.