Monday, January 13, 2014

My Guatemalan Quilt

  Hundreds of Guatemalan Cortes come through my hands.  I have made curtains, handbags, and the usual like for years. Now it is time to show my clients what they can really do with these 4+ yard amazing compound ikats. How about the amazing world of quilting. Patchwork, whole cloth, all kinds of techniques I am just finding out about.  The weird thing, as  I began this project, everyone I talked to either quilted or has some friend, family member who makes quilts. So here it is..

            My finished quilt.            


The project was not hard at all, a beginners quilt.  I cut 66 - 4 1/2" strips of corte material and 20 2 1/2" strips.  From the wide strips you sew three strips together  and cut those strips into 4 1/2" strips.  Miracle. You now have three squares sewn together. Combine three of those and you have a nine patch block.  The small 2 1/2" strips you sew in fours and make 16 square blocks.  The cutting and sewing went fast, I had so much fun.

Cutting the back pieces

The next step was to cut the large pieces for the back.  I learned from my cousin, the master, that it is always better to have big pieces on your backing.  Too many seams, and you know there is going to be many seams on the front piece, can give the quilting machine some hard times.   Here's a photo of both pieces, front and back.  

The next step is to take all of your pieces to a quilter.  One can quilt by hand, lay everything out and baste by hand all of the components and then quilt using hand stitches. Alternatively, you can join all three pieces and quilt with a home sewing machine, free style.  I want to try this soon.  The most common way to quilt is a quilting machine, the mother of all sewing machines. I am so glad I did this, the quilt being so large.  I loved this lady I met, she did a fantastic job, amazing.  If you have never seen one, it is mind blowing.                                                                                         

She puts the three pieces, top, batting, and bottom on separate rollers.  Then, following a pattern line or freestyle, she stitches away.  About 6-8 hours of stitching for a double size quilt. This takes some muscles.

Takes up an entire room. My quilt came out so tight and very warm.  Love it!

I am not finished with this yet!  Here is my next project, a 20x20 pillow. 

I sewed leftover pieces together sort of haphazard. Things are not straight, yet I am liking it. Going to try that machine quilting thing. 
All of this left me with the feeling to do more. After the next Warrenton, I am digging back into the sewing room.  Maybe quilting kits for all of my clients.  What do you think? 


Friday, January 10, 2014

Just checking in

It has been a long time since I have posted. Sorry about that folks. I believe the dog, Miss Ziva, el monstro for short, has taken all of my time. Alas, I have been working. I did make a trip to San Cristobal for the first time since 1988! Wow, has that place taken a big change. Since then, tourist have found the place in a big way. I was told in 1992, during the civil war, tourist started coming to support the local indigenous groups. Now, there are two walking streets with stores and restaurants galore.  San Cristobal is a very cold place, all year around you are wearing coats and building fires at night. The surrounding mountains are breathtaking. There are so many hotels it is crazy, there used to be two. I stayed at the best hostel, cheap rooms, breakfast included, and kitchen you can use if that is your style. Sorry, can't find the photos. 
Here are some photos of a Guadalupe procession.  Dancers and religious folk.

Isn't  he  cute. Jaguar dancer in the procession.

These guys marched down the street with fireworks being set off in front of them.  Just like in Guatemala. San Cris is a big mixture of Guatemala and Mexico. I would move there tomorrow fs it were not for the cold and wet weather.  Wee bit miserable, I remember passing there every 3 months back in the old days. Always wanting to do nothing but sit by the fireplace.
I was so much better this trip. There was so much to do and to buy!  Thanks to my friend Rosina who has been there for years. She started all of those cotton blouses with the embroidery. There is a reason they look so much like Afghanistan  peasant wear, she started the first ones 20+ years ago. Notice the sleeve construction, not Mexican at all, but very European. Then, as time passed a few slight changes, few more gringas gave some ideas for business. Yes folks, those Mexican blouses are not traditional Mexican wear. The huipil construction is. I got some of those, too.

Caught these pilgrims in this beautiful church on the main square.  Very peaceful place.

I spent most of my hours in the market. Here is another church which resides there.  It has a double headed Eagle on the church front,  just like in so many Guatemalan weaving.  Back in 1988, I remember almost no crafts to buy.  A few women walked around with one style of textile. Hammocks and woven market bags were just about it. Now, quite a different story, look at all those puestos!  Not as big as Chichi, still a maze to get through. I bought tons of beautiful blouses, both the European and huipil style with embroidery. Found leather handbags, nice thick leather like the ones I used want to own in the 70's.  From my research, these always came from this region.  I never had seen them in all of my trips to San Cris back then. Maybe they were from the lower lands.
Off to Taxco in two weeks. Silver! oh, how I love to buy silver.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

In search of Antonio

It was actually by chance that both of the haciendas I just visited were movie sets of Antonio Banderas films, Hacienda Jaral de Barrio and Hacienda Gogorron.  Both are near the border of the states of Guanajuato and San Luis Potosi, an area rich in haciendas.  I felt a strong sadness for these magnificent works of art, at the same time knowing that the same magnificence was at the disposal of human lives suffering under the feudal system know as the haciendas. Unlike other haciendas I have seen, these had such wealth slapped onto the structure, so that everyone could see. Jaral de Berrios was constructed as if Maximilian himself had built the thing. ( I am thinking of the opulence of wealth he displayed at Jardin Borda, Cuernavaca)  The most famous owner, Marquis de Jaral de Berrio, was also the original owner of Palacio de Iturbide in Mexico City. The wealth came from gold and silver mines, the hacienda producing the animals needed to work the ore.

Upper level living room

Outer facade, yes this is where Antonio plays his guitar in the opening of "Once Upon a Time in Mexico"

Servants stairwell
All the rooms boasted of hand painted wallpaper
My favorite mural

Grain Silos

Hacienda church

This is the living room one might be received when visiting the owner. Entry level. Not one spec of space is NOT hand painted.

Typical work area of a hacienda

Olive tree brought over by the first owner
Next we drove over to Hacienda Gogorron, built in 1592.  Yet another hacienda built from mining wealth. There were 12 foundry ovens for extracting the precious metals, I found two, yet I am sure there are remains of them all if you know where to look.  Haciendas are sites which must be seen more than once, you can always find something new to photograph each trip.  The government sign told us this hacienda had many lives.  During the late 17th century, the owner had his own hydroelectric plant, who does that? Later, it functioned as a textile factory.  The main building, a magnificent palace we discovered was built in 1920.                                                                               
Newer Palace interior
interior stair to upper floor
 I actually forgot to photograph the front of this palace, this is the interior court yard.  When I found the older part, I forgot all about the fancy part of the hacienda. I think I did this in both places, sorry, you need to make a trip out there yourself on your next visit to San Miguel de Allende.

Now, I need to see the movie Zorro, again. This appears to be a Chinese restaurant in some kind of China Town.

Walls painted red, movie people. 

Chinese restaurant? 

Sometimes hard to tell the real from the movie, they did many changes.

Movie set for Zorro, town square

The movie people repainted the church, the guy who opened the church for us showed us the only original wall. You could not see much. Was this the ways it was in the 1600's?  It looked authentic enough.
The original working hacienda

fence blocking a stair to the underground level

Notice it had three levels at one time

I loved the shadows in this area. At first I thought, several swimming pools. Most likely this was part of the ore processing pools, or even dying pools of the textile plant. Will find out more on the next trip.
 I do apologize for not photographing the most fancy of both of the haciendas.  I missed the grand stair of Berrios with its painted sky in the large boveda above. Was it that all of this turned me off?   I later began to think of why, and realized I felt sorry for the buildings. That grand display of wealth, the throwing away of money, and at the expense of people who lived on the land as slaves, sort of does make me sick. The revolution came, and the grand building suffered. They crumbled, rotted away, while the only hope of continuance is to rent them out for movies? At Berrios, its integrity was honored. At Gogorron, looks like no one cared what they did to the buildings, nor asked them to return it to its origin. Now, the movie set is in ruins.   Each is owned privately, so what happens to each hacienda is up to the owner. Some the public can get into, yet very few have been given to the government for museums.  I heard there are over 400 haciendas in Guanajuato alone, most never open to the public.  History lost, or not?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Chichicastenango, Guatemala

Santo Tomas Church

Deborah at the park fountain, we found it!

I am thinking just about anyone who has been to Guatemala, has been to Chichi. It is a tourist destination, mostly for its famous market. Handicrafts galore, Chichi has been the center of handicrafts for all of Guatemala. I admit to buying a great deal from this colorful market, every Thursday and Sunday.  There is something more to this town of 80,000.  It has become a central market for all of the state of Quiche, with market stalls surrounding the central park every day of the week. I can remember in the 80's coming there on off tourist market days with a view of all the town square, a clear view off both churches and this royal fountain in the center. Today, one must make your way through plastic covered rows of tables, vendors selling everything imaginable, to discover the fountain in the center.

My friend Deborah and I decided to spend some time in Chichi on a non market day. We were surprised what we found.  We went to the Mayan Lodge, a small wonderful hotel I used to go to as a getaway back in the 80's.  A bargain at $30 for two, fireplaces, right in the center of the market, and parking included!

Mayan Lodge

  The street on a normal day
The owner of the hotel grew up in this home, she told us the entire story of how it went from home and store front to hotel.  Her father was the first to convert the rooms for guest, he started a restaurant where they once had a handicraft store. Sitting on the town square, colonial era construction, it is perfect.

On a market day one never gets to see some buildings, just too much stuff.  In 35 years, I have never noticed this building and it sits right across from a place I buy from all the time.

Can't see the forest for the trees, same street, market day.
 Our next big discovery was what the "pit" looks like, in fact it is around a building which is the town theater.  It is filled with used textiles, piled as high as the walls are.  Tight and cramped, hard to maneuver about, and hard bargaining. 
empty and wet with rain
entrance to the area on market day

The smaller church was open, what a treat!


This church appears a bit older than the larger, Santo Tomas church.  Lovely carvings, wooden floors, all stained by the constant burning of candles and incense.  

Notice the concrete slabs?  Mayan rituals are preformed, circling different colors of candles and piles of incense. All are set ablaze, as prayers are made. Very impressive if you have ever seen how fast an entire candle burns when set on its side. The Catholic and Mayan practices are mixed.
Here you see the traditional Catholic candle lighting under a carving of Jesus.

 Below is an example of the Mayan ritual fire.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tiny Town of 40 Prepares for Thousands!

 Das Blaue Hause Field, Warrenton, Texas

In the beginning, it's just Texas

Now that we are all home from Warrenton, have placed all the goodies we found just where ya want them, I thought I would show you a few pics from the beginning.  Before the tents all go up, we have to do what all Texans do with their "free" time, MOW! 
Jr. Wagner mowed twice before the tents went up!



We have to unpack everything which might have  been left from the last show.  Here you see all of   Dick's left overs.  Amazing, there are still some   great finds left over here. The wicker chair went   the first few days.                                                  

The tents - they go up with a great deal of work. This year we had 2 storms during the setup weeks. Those tents, they do go down. Heavy winds can twist a tent across the field. Heavy rains can collect in the tarps if the poles are not put down before the rain. Word to vendors- drop your side poles before the rain. I saw so many tent poles bent in a 90 degree angle just from the weight of the gathered water on the tarp.  One held water the size of a big child's kiddie swimming pool, all the poles were a goner. 

The camper spaces have to be marker off. Here is Jimmy  telling us to move our campers.  It would help if he got there when we did. I actually had to move my rig 6 inches! Gotta get those campers packed in.  We live with our neighbors for one month, inches apart. Good thing I have good neighbors, we are just like family!


Finally, the tables are opened, the boxes are unpacked, and we are done. We await crowds and big time fun. See you in September! Come early, Make memories, come to Warrenton. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pacific Coast of Guatemala

If you leave Pana with the desire of sticking your feet in the closest ocean, you head out the upper road going around the lake toward the volcanoes Atitlan and Toliman.  The views from this side are much different than the views from Panajachel or any of the villages to the north where most of the foreign population tend spend their time. Instead of looking straight into the bay of Santiago, the site pulls your vision to San Lucas, the back side of the volcanoes.

 The coffee was in full bloom on that side of the mountains. Snowy white flowers, fields of them.
Once you have passed San Lucas and head toward the coast, the culture and people appear very different. You could even be in a different country.  Guatemala is like that, so many cultures in one. The typical clothing is replaced by jeans, cotton dresses, and women who cut their hair. 

 First stop was the required break down. A part fell off the brakes, they fixed it, took it off. Parking brake, you don't need that right?  Folks were really nice in this town.  The guy at the small store gave us oranges. Were there only 20 minutes and off to the beach.

We make it to the coast, small coastal inlet and a few minutes ride across the brackish bay to the ocean side.                                        The most interesting note about this trip is we drove 150 miles in one day. Seventy five miles each way, a simple day trip. It took 4 hours each way, giving us about 3 hours to jump into the water and have the most amazing fresh fish you have ever tasted. 
    Was a memorable trip, we loved every minutes of it.  Travel in Guatemala is always an excitement in the trip itself. Always a story, nothing goes right, yet everything goes along perfect! A 12 hours day to go a short distance, to put your toes in the ocean, and to have a ice cream cone at the famous Parma cheese factory. A day to spend with friends.
Five Friends Go To the Beach for a Day