What Makes a True Piece of Mexican Crafted Folk Art, and Where to Start Your Search?

What Makes a True Piece of Mexican Crafted Folk Art, and Where to Start Your Search?

We ask Marcos and his wife, Lily, from La Hamaca Gallery in Sayulita, the above questions. La Hamaca’s offers a wide variety of local ‘artesanias’ that are not only known for their splendid colors, but are also generally considered to have a purpose beyond the decorative and are crafted by the many indigenous groups of Mexico, from Oaxaca to Nayarit, to the Yucatan.

Marcos, what defines a true piece of Mexican folk art?

Mexico is one of the best places in the world to find great folk art. Folk art is created when artisans add decorative touches to utilitarian items such as furniture, pottery, blankets, clothing, hammocks etc. although some pieces are created as decorative art as well. We consider folk art to be the best examples of craft in each category.

We were absolutely pleasantly surprised by the wide variety of hand crafted products available at La Hamaca Gallery. How do you go about selecting these beauties?

We travel to villages throughout Mexico and Guatemala to buy our pieces directly from the artisans who make them. There are often one or two artisans in a village who have taken their craft to the highest level of quality. These are the artists we choose to work with.

Lily, will you tell us a little about the different regions and what kind of artesenias they typically bring forth?

We find incredible folk art all over Mexico from Chihuahua in the north to Chiapas and into Guatemala. Each village we work in is known for a particular style of pottery, ceramic, woodwork, weaving, embroidery, tin, copper, leather, etc. In many cases the styles date back to Colonial times and the artists use techniques hundreds of years old. For example, the best woven textiles are generally found in the Chiapas region, leather goods in Juanajuato, and Huichol products in Jalisco, Durango or Nayarit.

What’s La Hamaca’s view on social entrepeneurship when it comes to indigenous communities?

When you purchase a beautiful example of Mexican folk art from the La Hamaca gallery, you are not only helping indigenous artisans to feed their families but you are also helping to keep their beautiful traditions alive. Crafting folk art is a way for indigenous families to supplement their incomes and in many cases has become their main source of income allowing them to raise the standard of living of their families and communities. Creating folk art is also a way for housekeepers to be able to work at home while continuing with their household duties. In many cases whole families share in the creative process.

What’s your favorite piece, and what’s the story behind it?

Buying and collecting hand woven textiles is one of the great joys of my life. I love the warm feel of the colors when woven together and how a beautiful bedspread, tablecloth or wall hanging can transform a room. Some of the best textiles in the world are made in Chiapas and Guatemala and we are honored to work with the people that make them.

Where can we find La Hamaca Gallery?

La Hamaca is conveniently located right off the main plaza, on Avenida Revolucion. Opening times are 9am to 9pm, six days a week, except for Sundays. We look forward to seeing you!

Written by Inge Poell