Artisan Crafts Day in Oaxaca

On Tuesday, Rachael and I did a tour of Oaxacan artistry. We started the day in town at a breakfast restaurant and bakery called Boulenc.

Black Pottery

After breakfast, we met out guide and he took us in his SUV to a black pottery workshop in a town called San Bartolo Coyotepec to see some of Oaxaca’s famous black pottery. The pieces are created by hand without the use of a motorized pottery wheel and finished in an undeground wood-fired kiln that gives the pottery its distinctive black color.

Alebrije Workshop

Our next stop was to the Jacobo and Maria Angeles Alebrije workshop in San Martín Tilcajete. Alebrije are painted animal figurines made from wood and decorated with vibrant colors and intricately details. The Pixar animators visited the workshop to do design research for the movie Coco.

and now for some completed Alebrijes…

Pottery

In addition to the painted alebrijes, the workshop also creates potter, although not the traditional black pottery.

Alebrijes Gallery

We finished the tour in the Alebrijes gallery store and got to try some mezcal with our tour guide as well.

Next Stop Swordsmith

Our next stop on our tour was to a swordsmith in a town called Ocotlán de Morelos. She makes tons of knives and swords with handles from ostrich or alligator or bone and blades of various shapes and sizes. We got to see how she shapes the metal and then how she brings it to a shiny finish and even uses acid to engrave designs on the blade itself. Initially, Rachael and I weren’t particularly interested in the swords and knives. We went along with that part since it was included in the tour, but in the end, I’d say we both enjoyed the stop on the tour. After her demonstration, we got to try a variety of different mezcal’s she had. As I learned that day, pretty much everything in Oaxaca seems to start or end with Mezcal.

Lunchtime

By this point, we were both getting pretty hungry, so our guide brought us to a local market also in Ocotlán to get some enchiladas for lunch. We visited a stall he recommended in the market that was Frida Kahlo themed and had a delicious almond mole and also tried chapulines, cooked grasshoppers. They were pretty salty and crunchy, but overall, I liked them.

Zapotec Weaving

Our final stop on the tour was to a workshop in Santo Tomás Jalieza on this artist’s compound. We got to see how woven textiles are made and Rachael even got a chance to weave part of a table runner.

The picture in the upper right is of a cat that was doing crazy acrobatics to try and catch a butterfly. I tried my best to get a photo of the cat mid air (we’re talking spinning cartwheels and such) but the cat was too fast. Our tour guide told us the cat only seems to do that when he brings tours by.

Returning to Oaxaca

Our tour guide drove us back to our AirBnB in Oaxaca and we made plans with him to do another tour off the books on Thursday visiting Hierve al Agua, a famous waterfall.

Dinner with a View

Back in town we dined at Pitiona. This restaurant had the best view of any of the places we ate at during our trip. We had a 7pm reservation and caught the sunset above Santo Domingo Church.

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