Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Guadalupe Hermosillo: Master of old style Ironsmith

Since the XVII Century old buildings in the Colonial city of San Cristobal de las Casas Chiapas have been decorated with big iron crosses on top of there roofs. Usually those crosses have several figures like a ruster, a hearth, a leader, a snake, a balance and so on, each one of them has a meaning and all they represent the passion of Christ (Hearth=Sacred hearth of Christ, rooster=Peters denial, snake=temptation, balance=justice, the leader to bring down Jesus from the Cross, the lance that the Roman soldier used, etc).
My first approach to one of these crosses (before visiting San Cristobal) was 3 years ago at the new National Museum of Mexican Folk Art in Mexico City know as MAP (Museo de Arte Popular), behind glass there lies a huge cross with all those symbols made by Great Master of Mexican Folk Art Guadalupe Hermosillo. 2 years ago I was lucky enougth to meet him in person at his studio in San Cristobal de las Casas. He its a great person, very humble men who likes to work hard and to do things as perfect as possible, for example: his new crosses are much more sophisticated compared to the one at the book Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art (now each bar of iron its actually made of 2 twisted bars that look like one, making double work just to give the optical illusion of one bar), another example its that he likes to keep working the same way as in the old days, each and every joint are made with rivets, my guess its that 99.99% of modern ironsmiths only know how to make soldered joints instead of using rivets.
He its also very reliable of special orders, one time he made for me a custom cross just to hold in front of it a wood cross with a straw mosaic by Guillermo Olay, he ended up making an amazing job!!. I hope to post a photo of it some day. See you on the next post!.
Please write us to let us know your favorite subjects on Mexican Folk Art in order for us to write about it in our blog, our email its if you would like to see our items for sale by the Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art just click on the next link: thanks!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mexico's National Award of Ceramics 2009

Since the late 1970s the "Premio Nacional de Ceramica" was established to help promote the craftsmanship of Mexican artisans and to bring there work at collectors level, each year the number of the pieces and there quality has been growing and growing!, this year 5200 pieces where summit!!.
I'm very happy to let you know that this year 3 of my friends that I work with have won this great contest. They are: Angel Santos, Juan Hernandez and Juan Carlos de la Cruz.
Angel Santos, won the "Angel Carranza Award" in recognition to his long trajectory as a great master in the field of burnished ceramics from Tonala, just a couple of years ago he and his group of artisans "Herencia Milenaria", won the National Award of Science and Arts in the folk Art category. The work of Angel can be found in several books of Mexican Folk Art, betweenRemove Formatting from selection them Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art and Arte Del Pueblo, Manos De Dios/Art of the People, Hands of God ( the catalog of the National Museum of Mexican Folk Art). Angel its very famous for his miniatures where in just a few inches he can show a Mexican fiesta!.
Juan Hernandez from Metepec its also very famous for miniatures but his are miniature trees of life just 4 inches tall. One example its a day of the dead tree of life that we have at hour gallery, its 3.2 inches tall and it has 50 day of the dead musicians!!! each one with its own musical instrument!!!. (see photo) His work can be found in the miniatures section of the book "Crafts of the people hands of God", several museums have his work including the National Museum of Folk Art in Mexico City know as MAP.
Juan Carlos de la Cruz, wow!, what to write about him??!! I'm always speechless every time I see one of his day of the dead miniatures. Since a young kid he has been working the clay, he learned the craft from his dad also famous artisan Alvaro de la Cruz in Capula Mexico. Specially I love his day of the dead crowned nuns and his Galleros (see photo).
Usually we carry the work of this 3 masters under special order, any way, please check our online store or send us an email to Enjoy!!!.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Salvador Vazquez, Master among Masters

The Village of Tonala has been famous since the XVII for its burnished pottery, several examples of Tonala ceramics from that period can be seen in Spain at the "Museo de America".
With centuries of talented artisans a modern "master among masters" its Salvador Vazquez (age 75). At 8 years old he started working the clay, in 1951 at age 17 he worked for the famous "Aldana" ceramics factory along with another 200 ceramists from Tonala. Folk Art legend from the 1040s Amado Galvan was his teacher along with his Godfather Felix Solis. In the early 70s he started working with another legend Jorge Wilmoth, where he had the position of designer and chef of ceramists. Thanks to Jorge for the first time maybe in centuries the artisans of Tonala started earning real money, in the past artisans only made utilitarian objects and there bosses did not paid well for there work, in words of Don Salvador that was the case of the Aldana Factory.
Once Don Salvador left Jorge Wilmoth, he opened his own studio, where now he was able to design at free will his own designs, since then several of the now Tonala masters learned there techniques from Don Salvador among them are Juan Antonio Mateo Nuno, Luis Cortez, Gilberto Pila and Jose Palacios.
The subjects that Master Vazquez likes to include in its designs are Naguales (fantastical animals), flowers, deers, birds, dogs and tradicional Mexican scenes.
You can find his work in several books of Mexican Folk Art, like Nagual in the Garden: Fantastic Animals in Mexican Ceramics (His work its in the cover of the book), Ceramica de Tonala (also this one has his work in the cover), Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art, and Art of the People, Hands of God between others.
If you would like to get in touch with us please write us at or if you would like to see our items on sale by Salvador Vazquez and other Tonala masters please click on the next link Thanks!!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Angelica Morales Tzinztuntzan lead free pottery

In the small village of Tzintzuntzan there has been several generations of artisans doing wonderful cream and black ceramics, the book Cera*mica: Mexican Pottery of the 20th Century
shows some examples, all of them at a very naive level. Angelica Morales, her sister and brother have been the pioneers on bringing this “naive” decoration to the n
ext level of beauty. Angelica's unique style shows scenes of traditional fiestas, Mexican markets, festivals and geometric prehispanic figures. Usually the main characters on her compositions are women, kids and mermaids. Specially her mermaids call the attention of every one, I have never seen nothing similar to her exquisite mermaids!. Another plus on her ceramics its that they are lead free, giving a special bonus to her art!.

Besides her pottery, Angelica its also famous for her drawings on amate bark paper, the most impressive one I have seen by her its a big scene with many Mexican children playing traditional Mexican games, own by collector of Mexican Folk Art Gale Cunningham.

Felipe Linares Papier Mache Skelleton Enramada

Hello Friends! this time I would like to write about one of my favorites pieces of Mexican Folk Art, its called "Enramada" (Branch men) and its made in Papier Mache by Great Master of Mexican Folk Art Felipe Linares (born in 1934). Its average size is 59” tall, every Enramada he makes its a different piece of art so each one has different animals, flowers and plants. The Linares family its the most famous Mexican family on the art of Paper Mache, late Pedro Linares (father of Felipe) invented the fantastical creatures called “Alebrijes” (he also invented that word).
The work of Felipe Linares can be found in the National Museum of Mexican Folk Art (Museo de Arte Popular) in Mexico City, the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, the Fowler Museum in UCLA, the Museum of Men in London between others. Also some of the most important collectors of Mexican Folk Art have this piece among there most valuable objects, like Amy Franz who by the way has the most impressive Linares collection I have seen.
Also the work of Felipe Linares can be found in several books of Mexican Folk art, his work made the cover for the new book of the Mexican Goverment Agency for traditional crafts "Arte Popular de Mexico" (see photo), other books are. En Calavera: The Papier-Mache Art of the Linares Family
, “Crafts of the people, hands of God”, and Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art.. The book The Skeleton at the Feast: The Day of the Dead in Mexico has in its a pages a photo of one of Felipes Enramadas.
Each Enramada he makes takes aprox 6 months to be made, please consider that this its a piece of art and that the master was born in 1934, any way its wait is worth doing!.
If you would like to receive more photos of other Enramadas that I have sold please get in touch!! ( To see all the items that we have for sale by the Linares family please click here

Monday, June 1, 2009

Straw and Feathered Mosaics by Guillermo Olay

Mosaic made with FEATHERS! Made by Great Master of Mexican Folk Art: Guillermo Olay Barrientos. In Aztec period and colonial period mosaic feathers where a well refined art in Mexico, that got lost from the 17th Century till mid 20th Century. Guillermo's Dad Gabriel Olay (who passed 2 years ago) its responsable for the rescue of the techinques of this art. His work can be seen at several museums. The example of the photo its a piece
that can be found at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago. For several decades (and generations) the art of the Olay family has been collected in the States but in the form of Straw Mosaics, examples of early Olay family straw mosaics can be found in the book Popular Arts of Mexico, 1850-1950
(actually that book has a complete chapter on straw mosaics and it includes a family tree of the Olays starting in the early 1800s).

Getting back to Guillermo Olay, a favorite subject of him its Diego Rivera, he makes reproductions of his work both on Feathers (above image) and Straw like this example that is a reproduction of one of Diegos Murals!!.
Another very impressive example of Guillermos Work its his collection of straw mosaics inside wood crosses, he has about 10 different ones, each one a master piece, here it is an example.
If you would like to know more about master Guillermo Olay please send us a mail to, if you want to see what we have in our Gallery of him just visit our online store Click Here .
See you next time!
Benito Del Aguila