42.641511 -118.579845


El Artistas

Passing through rugged mountains on the road to Oaxaca.

In Oaxaca the traffic flow switched sides several times. One block you are in the US and next block in England.

We visited Maria Luisa and Fidel Cruz's weaving studio. They are 4th generation weavers and their son is the 5th. 

The spectrum of colors is achieved using only natural dyes and ancient knowledge. Maria's husband Fidel prepares all the dies.

Maria showed us how the red dyes are prepared from the Cochineal scale insects that inhabit cactus.
Picking one off, she placed it in our hand.

When we crush the small grey lump, it turned red. 

Maria crushing the cochineal. The baskets contain other natural dyeing agents, pecan, marigold, indigo and others. 

The color of  cochineal and many other dies can be altered by changing their pH. In general making the dye more alkaline makes it lighter, less intense. More acidic, darker.

Here are the results of changing the pH of the cochineal. Most acid on the right and most alkaline on the left.

Master weaver Fidel showing us how it's done.

This very interact patten is solely in Fidel's mind. Patterns are not recorded and every weaving is unique.

We were asked not to show photos of the finished pieces that were amazingly beautiful and expensive. ($300 - $1.400)

The studio of Jacobo and Maria Angeles

Jacobo and Maria express their Zapotec heritage by carving and painting traditional fantastical  creations called alebrijes

All the creations are carved from he Copal tree. This tree grow in a very contorted manner like a vine. The trees are harvested after 25 years, the wood soaked in gasoline to kill any insects and dried. The wood is then carved and allowed to dry again. Up to a year or two for larger pieces. The apprentices then fill all the cracks and imperfections. 

Ruth checking out some pieces that have been sanded smooth.

Next master carvers reveal the alebrije they see in the wood. Each one is carved from a single piece of wood. The convoluted growth of the copal tree allows for all the whimsically shaped creatures .

There is also a one semester class for aspiring artists. They work in a much easier medium, acrylic paints. 

This magnificent piece was done by a very talented artist shortly after completing the semester class.

The alebrije is passed from the master carver to the master painter. All painting is done with natural dyes that will never fade. Many are the same dyes that Maria used to dye her wool. The fabulous patterns and colors are the vision of the master painter, unless it is a commissioned piece. 

This panther was purchased by a Mexican business man for $40,000.

Oh, that mythical bird I was standing in front of. 
It is fiberglass, not wood, and from the premiere of the movie Coco.
 The movie crew visited the studio to gain inspiration for the movie.

The grandmother in the movie was inspired by a woman that worked in the kitchen.

Some of Jacobo and Maria's personal work.

I love this pelican

Jacobo and Maria sharing a heart



We explored the beautiful city of the Puebla yesterday.

Great fountain in the central Plaza 

Puebla's 1600s cathedral rises in sharp contrast to the modern sculpture. I was told there are over 365 churches in Puebla. I saw quite a few today.

Puebla is known for it's fine tiles. They adorn many of the building around town.

We visited the Biblioteca Palafoxiana. It was started by Bishop Juan de Palafox y Mendoza in 1646. Today ig houses more than 45,000 volumes and 5,345 manuscripts that encompass from the 15th to the 20th century.

We also discovered a free classical concert. 

I love all the vibrant colored buildings.

Artisan shops

Street performers are everywhere.

Ruth, Denise and Bob checking out the bullet holes.

Churro time. We passed this shop several time, and every time was a line. We gave in, queue up and had some warm delicious churros.

Got to love the creativity. Yes, the walking stick is the only thing that makes contact with the street.



I took a stroll around this lovely town. 

This statue of Christ is not in its final resting place. I believe that it will be installed upright in the near future.

Great lunch at the central market.

Tacos Longaniza were great.

In the 1580s the Jesuits started construction on the Church of San Francisco and the attached schools for teaching indigenous languages to Jesuit evangelists, a school for Indian boys and the College of San Francisco. Today the church and education complex are all part of the World Heritage Virreinato National Museum.  Though all signs were Spanish, I did enjoy the beautiful objects. 


The Spanish invasion begins

The Church of San Francisco in now part of the museum. The alters are carved wood overplayed with 23.5 karat gold leaf. This is the most extravagant church I have visited. 

Pablo III concede a ignacio la bula aprobatoria de la compañía de Jesus
Paul III Grant to Ignacio the approving bull the company of Jesus

Vision of Santo Domingo de Guzman

Stunning stone floors worn smooth over the centuries 

Serene inner courtyard.

This is a huge museum and well worth a look.