SAN MARTIN TILCAJETE, SAN BARTOLO COYOTEPEC, AND SANTO TOMAS JALIEZA
San Martin is distinguished for the great quality of its carvers who possess an overflowing imagination that allows them to create fantastic figures such as dragons, Pegasus, monsters, devils, angels and representations of death, which are decorated with flowers and fluorescent colors in which colonial blue prevails.
The Oaxaca region produces some of the finest handicrafts in Mexico and one of the most unique and sought after items is black clay pottery. Black clay, or barro negro, is a traditional Zapotec method of making pottery. The clay is molded and spun by hand, without the use of modern tools, then polished. In the town of San Bartolo Coyotepec, just 12 km (7 miles) southeast of Oaxaca city, you can visit family-owned workshops where the traditions of barro negro have been passed down from generation to generation. The actual clay that’s used to make black clay pottery is found in the valley surrounding the village.
In the village of Santo Tomas Jalieza we visit the busy studio of Abigail Mendoza Antonio in order to see one of the oldest weaving techniques still in use in Oaxaca today. Using strands as delicate as sewing thread, Abigail weaves the finest and most intricate of patterns on small backstrap looms. Her exquisite work has won national awards and has been featured in international publications. Working from her well-lit patio workshop, Abigail and her family design and produce woven strips that are exquisite on their own or can be sewn together to make wider fabrics. On larger backstrap looms, they also produce wider fabrics for bags, table runners and other functional items that they sell in local markets.