I used to think that the only thing Mexico By Hand had of interest to kids were the Ocumicho clay whistles. Then our granddaughter Mila arrived and I noticed her fascination with many of our other pieces of folk art and crafts. As a newborn, she intently focused her gaze on our brightly colored figures, skeletons, and masks. She wasn’t frightened by them-- they enthralled her. As Mila grew more verbal, she enjoyed interacting with them. And then there was a point when she didn’t want to leave the room after her nap (which was our gallery) because she insisted on looking at the pottery on the shelves. I couldn’t believe it really. It was then I realized our little two year old granddaughter was a fan of Mexican folk art and crafts.
There’s another story as well. We’re losing many of our master artisans, some recently to Covid, and many others are aging and unfortunately their children aren’t choosing to continue the work. Those of us who appreciate beautiful things made by hand are concerned. I want to share the passion I have for Mexican artesania with the world, and also tell a personal story about my granddaughter Mila.
I’ve been working on a children's book for a while that is a culmination of my life's work as a bilingual educator, a collector and promoter of Mexican folk art, and as a parent and now grandparent. It’s been a fun and meaningful project for me personally, and I hope you or someone you know might be interested in such a book. I invite you to take a look at Mila’s Mask/La Máscara de Mila-- which is now for sale on our website.
Mila's Mask features numerous photos and descriptions of Mexican folk art and artisans. Here are a few of them, beginning with Mila and embroidered pillows made in Rancho Santa Cruz near Tzintzuntzan, Michoacán.
Antonio Anita Mejia of Quiroga, Michoacán made the small table and chairs Mila loves to play with. The maestro passed away in 2021 but his son Gabriel continues to do this beautiful work.
Elena Felipe Felix of Huancito, featured above in the Banamex Collection, Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art. We feature a more recent photo of her in Mila's Mask, painting one of her pots beside her daughter, Imelda, who is also an artisan.
Angela Esteban of Ocumicho, Michoacán makes figures out of clay, and we have featured many of her pieces (e.g. devils, mermaids, nativity scenes) in our collection over the years. Most recently we facilitated the sale of 500 of her little bird whistles pictured in Mila's Mask to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art store for their exhibit: "Diego Rivera's America."
If you're interested in seeing work by the above artisans, use the search box on the website. www.mexicobyhand.com
And to see more info. or purchase the book, here's the link to Mila's Mask.