ARTISANS

 

Maguey Ayate Cloth

Maguey Ayate Cloth

 Every one of these cloths are individually made by hand by an artisan collective in Central Mexico. This group grows, cultivates, processes and works with this maguey material. Maguey is the local word for agave, however it is also known throughout the country as ixtle and henequen. 

Agave is a veritable wonder plant, as it’s fire resistant, requires little water, and gives off more oxygen than some trees do. It’s been used by indigenous populations in Mexico for thousands of years in order to make rope, paper, textiles, alcohol, carpets and other materials. It also became a valuable trade commodity with the arrival of the Spanish, who built such empires – often via the exploitation of local indigenous groups – that it was referred to as green gold. 

It can be grown from both clones and from seeds, and are found in various sizes throughout Mexico and beyond – mainly in dry, arid, warm locations. Agave plants typically live for 15 to 30 years, depending on the variety. Agaves are monocarpic, so they only flower once, and once this takes place, the life cycle of the plant ends. The blooms start as a large stalk in the center that looks like giant asparagus, then they sprout vibrant blooms on top, often dazzling in tones of gold. 

Ayate Cloth

For the process, this group first goes as a collective to harvest the agave. After this, the leaves are removed and then stripped with a machete over a long wooden board. This is done to remove the outer layer, and expose the fibrous layer inside. After this, the material is washed, dried then brushed straight over a giant biznaga cactus, as has been the case for centuries. When the material is ready, it’s cut to size, rolled by hand, and crocheted into our handmade sponges. They are also filled with agave fiber, making them vegan-friendly, biodegradable and completely plant-based.

 As with all of our pieces, due to the handmade nature, size, colour, shape and finishes may vary a little piece to piece. 

These cloths can be used for the shower or bath, to clean your home or your dishes. They will shrink and become denser after first use. The shape will not stay the same after the first wash. They can easily be washed in washing machine, and preferably hung to dry. We would recommend not putting them in the dryer, as this might destroy them.

 

Handspun Coyuchi Face Cloth 

Handspun Coyuchi Face Cloth

Handspun organic coyuchi cotton serves as the base of these pretty face cloths, which feature a neutral camel hue that grows naturally in this shade. 

These textiles are produced by a socially-focused collective who help to provide a positive stream of income to nearly 300 families in the state of Oaxaca. This organic cotton is grown on small plots without pesticides on the coast. It’s processed by hand and spun into string on wooden Ghandi spinning wheels. After this, it’s woven on standing foot pedal looms – with the artisans sometimes having to place a bucket of hot coals under the fabric to keep it from sticking in the cold, damp weather. 

Our pieces are then sewn locally by our seamstress. These textured wash cloths are pre-washed and pre-shrunk. 

Regarding the makers, this group originally started in 2010 with a group of 30 women, and this project maintains a focus on supporting the local economy through work opportunities that range from raising cotton crops to weaving and embroidery work. 

The brown and white cotton that is used to produce their textiles is native to the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Guerrero. In addition to using strictly organic cotton, they only use natural dyes that are not harmful to the environment. 

Coyuchi face cloth made by an artisan

The group works with over 200 spinners who produce their handmade cotton, with the primary focus of their collective project being to support the economy of the local community by upholding cultural traditions and paying a living wage in the process. Further to this, the group also moves to educate the public about the toxicity of the industrial textile industry. 

The cloths are rolled by hand and tied with agave string. They can be washed in the washing machine and hung to dry. They can also be put in the dryer, but in order to extend the life of the piece, we’d recommend line drying them. You can hot iron them, if need be. 

 

Girasol Jipijapa Doily

Girasol Jipijapa Doily made by artisans

Handwoven to our specifications by an artisan collective, these pieces are individually made with flexible palm in a lovely sun design that is specific to this community. These delicate works can be placed under a vase of flowers, arranged on a wall as an art installation, or even framed in a shadow box. Every custom piece is woven in a cave, which the families have on their respective properties, to ensure that they maintain enough cool humidity to work on their weaving projects during any time of the day or year. 

Every piece is handmade by a small collective of artisans that grow and cultivate their own monocot plants – known as jipijapa palm, however these plants are not true palms. The plants were purchased through a government assistance program and belong to the group.

Jipijapa is a species that is similar to the toquilla palm that is used in Ecuador to create the famed panama hats. This soft, flexible and durable material makes for stunning works of art that are as long-lasting as they are beautiful.

The material is cultivated by hand, and the artisan can only use the youngest center section for making these pieces. The material is cut into strips by hand with a small pin, and then is dried in an enclosed room with sulphur. This bleaches the jipijapa, which turns from yellow to white, and is a necessary step before the weaving process.

These artisans are based in Southeastern Mexico and are indigenous Mayan. For all in this group, Spanish is their second language. 

Girasol Jipijapa Doily

To clean the jipijapa, wipe with a clean, dry cloth. Do not use harsh cleaners or bleach. Avoid getting this piece wet for risk of damaging the material. If this does occur, set the piece in a cool, dry locale and reshape if necessary prior to. This can easily be done with a spray mister and heavy books to flatten. 

We refer to these mats as ‘girasol’ as they are reminiscent of a sunflower. Girasol is Spanish for sunflower. Every mat is one-of-a-kind, with no two exactly the same. As with all of our handmade pieces, size, shape, colour and pattern vary. 

 

Blessings Pit Fired Clay Beads

Blessings Pit Fired Clay Beads

Created by a family of master artisans in Southern Mexico exclusively for our stock, these rustic beads are a beautiful way to count the gifts of daily living. Roughly 36 beads are hand-threaded onto handmade agave string, knotted, and finished with a handmade tassel made from soft wool that is washed, carded and spun by hand on a traditional drop spindle. Every bead is rolled by hand and pit fired, for the perfect blend of wabi-sabi goodness. Hang them on a bedpost, from a wall or wear them around your neck if you’d like to take your blessings with you.

Created by a family of master potters in Southern Mexico exclusively for our stock, this family collaborate together as two generations in their family workshop. While they are known for their more decorative works, like our custom mermaids, this family also produces minimalist, custom works, by special order.

Blessings Pit Fired Clay Beads

The wool for the tassel is made by hand by an artisan that we partner with in the highlands of Southern Mexico, and is what is used to create the textiles for our backstrap-woven cushions. This material is laborious as she washes, cards and spins the wool entirely by hand, using traditional processes that have been in place for centuries.

For best care results, these beads can be wiped down with a damp cloth. The wool can also be carefully spot cleaned with cold water and mild soap, if required. As the beads are pit fired, they are fragile.

 

Quemada Barro Cereal Bowls and Pasta Bowls

Quemada Barro Cereal Bowls and Pasta Bowls

Created exclusively for our collection with local earth, these slow made bowls feature unique markings from the pit fire process and a lovely neutral hue of pinky peach that blend well with a range of styles and colours. 

Every custom work is created with local clay, then slowly pit fired over the span of six hours – a process that results in durable, elegant works that are supreme examples of Mexican artistry. 

Our award-winning master artisan partner has been producing custom pottery works for over 37 years. While her mother showed her the basics of working with clay, she is self-taught, and divides her time between creating her masterpieces, and teaching art at a local school. These pottery vessels are a crucial element to the local culture in her community and have been made in the region for thousands of years. 

In addition to pottery, this community is also well known for natural dyes, embroidery work and their brass bands.

Quemada Barro Pasta Bowl

Hand wash, and do not place in the dish washer or microwave. These pieces are food safe, however care should be taken to not place anything greasy inside, as that will stain the surface. As these pieces are natural, unglazed pottery, they forks and knives will also leave marks on the surface. In time, and with use, these plates will develop a lovely patina. We do not consider these marks of time to be flaws, but a beautiful reminder of the process and materials, as well as meals shared among friends. 

These pieces will also smell like earth when they are washed and be cold to the touch after rinsed. This is normal, given the material. 

 

Handmade Barro Rojo Custom Comales

Handmade Barro Rojo Custom Comales

Handmade in the Valles Centrales of Oaxaca, Mexico by a master artisan woman who comes from a family of women who have been producing pottery for over three generations. 

Both utilitarian and traditional art piece, barro rojo pottery can be found in a variety of areas – from outdoor food vendors to elegant restaurant tables. It is often what comals are made out of locally here in the valley. Comals are used to cook tortillas, and are generally coated with water and lime, so that the corn doesn’t stick. You can also cook other things like eggs, chilis and so on on this surface. Some homes throughout Mexico do not have a stove or oven, as all cooking is done over a fire and on a comal. 

The clay is sourced from local agricultural fields, dried in the sun, smashed into dust, sifted until clean, then mixed with sand and water. This mixture is kneaded like dough, in order to get the air pockets out. After this, the clay is ready to use.

The vessels are shaped by hand, and then made on a simple wheel that is comprised of a stone with a small board on top, as it has been in their village for hundreds of years. The finishes and smooth texture are added through the use of corn husks, oil cloth, stones and coconut shells.

The pottery is pit fired for roughly one hour to arrive at the ideal hue. The pit fire consists of carefully stacked pottery pieces. Very small pieces usually go inside of larger ones, so that they don’t get lost during the process. The pit fire is then built underneath, inside and around the pieces from wood, dried grasses and agave hearts, along with other elements. A sheet of metal is placed overtop, and large pieces of old, broken pottery are placed around the extremities, in order to keep the heat in. The fire is lit, and is regularly fed for over an hour. This is hot, intensive work that is unfortunately not a super healthy method for the lungs of the artisans, long-term.  

Typically, these sisters leave their pit fire to burn out overnight, then they pull the pieces from the cooled ash the next day. They’re rinsed in water, dried, then vigorously burnished with stones to encourage sheen and for the pieces to be a little less porous. That said, these pieces are made from unglazed pottery, and with this, greasy items will stain the pieces, water will filter, as they are still porous, and the piece will smell like earth when it’s being washed. This is natural as the piece is handmade with earth. 

Handmade Barro Rojo Custom Comales

We are happy to report that this artisan and her sister recently qualified for a fully funded smoke-free stove build, which means that once it is all ready to go and tested, they will be able to fire more pieces at one time, which means they spend less on fire materials, and they also won’t need to ingest smoke during the process. There has been a short hold on the completion of this project, give the current pandemic, but it’s nearly done, so they have already been testing pieces with firing sessions, so they are well en route to using this stove for new orders moving forward.

In addition to being a timeless design, these colanders are also safe for oven, gas range, food service and are 100% lead-free. Like all of the pieces from our handmade collections, these pieces vary slightly in size, hue, shape and some will feature burn marks due to the pit fire process. Personally, I love the burn marks! 

 

Handmade Onyx Bowls and Tealight Holders

Handmade Onyx Bowls and Tealight Holders

Handmade by a family of master artisans in Central Mexico. This family has been working with stone for over three generations, with the bulk of their work coming out of their home workshop. While the pieces that they create exclusively for our stock are small, functional works, they typically make their living on larger projects like fountains, statues and home design installments like countertops and columns. 

Every piece is cut, smoothed and polished by hand. We have decided to leave all of these pieces matte, rather than polished and shiny, in order to get a true view of the beauty of the natural stone. 

To clean, simply wash with warm soapy water and towel dry. 

Handmade Onyx Bowls and Tealight Holders

The tea light holders get very hot during use, so we recommend not touching them with hands when in use, or directly after use, as this would likely cause someone to burn their skin. 

Due to the nature of handmade, the shape, size, colour and finishes may vary. No two pieces are exactly the same. Given that this is natural stone, the patterns will vary, as will the colour. Onyx is a porous material and naturally features holes, crystallized sections, cracks and small chips. This is normal for the material and not a defect.

 

Hand Poured Mini Ritual Candle Bundles

Both compact and easy to carry, our handmade mini tapers can be used during meditation, on an altar for remembrance, as a call to prayer or simply to grace a dinner table. Every one of these pieces is individually poured by hand, using unbleached Mexican beeswax and pure cotton wicks. Burn time for a single candle is typically around an hour and a half. These tapers are nearly dripless, smokeless and virtually scent-free. They’re sold in bundles of six and are packed in corn husk with natural string. We can also have these pieces made in white, bleached beeswax.

Hand Poured Mini Tapers

The master artisans that produce our candles collaborate on custom orders as three generations in their family workshop. Famed for their ornate traditional beeswax candles with natural dyes, this family also constantly strives to develop new designs that speak to a contemporary audience on a worldwide basis. They dip every one of these beeswax candles by hand, exclusively for our stock. In addition to their candles, this family also also produces handwoven wool rugs and other vibrant tapestries.

Large Hand Poured Tapers

Large Hand Poured Tapers

Stretching gracefully to the sky, these handmade tapers are an elegant addition to a table or a mantelpiece. Every candle is individually poured by hand, using pure, Mexican beeswax. As they’re made with natural dyes, hues will vary per lot. Hues will be offered on a rotating basis, so it's best to check with us directly regarding what we currently have in stock. Unlike their paraffin counterparts that are derived from petroleum and other pollutants, these tapers are created with purely natural materials, including the beeswax, natural dyes and cotton wicks. They are slow burning, scent-free and see minimal drips or smoke, if the wicks are properly trimmed.

Large Hand Poured Tapers

The master artisans that produce our candles collaborate on custom orders as three generations in their family workshop. Famed for their ornate traditional beeswax candles with natural dyes, this family also constantly strives to develop new designs that speak to a contemporary audience on a worldwide basis. They dip every one of these beeswax candles by hand, exclusively for our stock. In addition to their candles, this family also also produces handwoven wool rugs and other vibrant tapestries.