A playful mural for a playful artisan in Mexico City

By Laramie Xhico Garcia

As you may well know, I love Mexico City. I can’t get enough of the food, people, art and culture. On my last trip here, I stumbled across a small workshop in Colonia Roma guarded outside by some fiberglass devils. I was with my friend, Leslie, and we decided to explore within. We met the ever so amusing Álvaro (a self-described Ghepetto) and the lovely Jazmín. We had discovered Taller Tlamaxcalli.

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Jazmin at work in the “taller”

After several jokes from Álvaro, we learned that they specialized in traditional Mexican toy making. I immediately was interested. Wood toys, alebrijes, cartonería, where would I begin… Masking making in cartonería of course. I signed up for classes and started going to the workshop weekly. Jazmín, was patient with me and my Spanish as she taught me papier mâché making techniques, know as cartonería. I began making a jaguar mask (which you’ll get to see when I’m actually finished with it).

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Sketch for the mural

One day the white base coat of paint had finished drying on the mask and the task of decorative painting was at hand. As I pulled out my new brushes, Jazmín asked me if I knew how to paint. Do I know how to paint? Canvases, faces, bodies, buildings… I’ve painted it all. I quickly removed my mobile gallery, also known as my phone, out of my pocket to show her some of my murals in Los Angeles.

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Sketch I was working from

She and Álvaro began to swipe thru my photos of my murals and Álvaro asked me when I was going to paint one in front of his shop. Coincidentally, a couple days before while at the coffee shop, I did a doodle of the front of their shop using Jazmín and some of their toys as inspiration. I showed Álvaro and his next question was “When are you going to start?”

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Sketch overlays to fit the design to the shape of the wall on the taller
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Laying in the main sketch

After figuring out schedules and budgets, I had to figure out how my sketch fit the actual space on the wall and how to incorporate several of their pre-existing objects they had displayed outside. I couldn’t take a full photo of the facade of the building, so I had to stitch several together in Photoshop before starting to block in my sketch on paper.

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Laying in all the main color. Photo by Leslie Moody Castro.

Just like my mask, the wall required a base coat of white paint. Day one had begun with Álvaro, Jazmín and me rolling on a fresh coat of white paint. The next morning I arrived and I began freehand drawing from my sketch. I forgot my special pencil, so finding the right tool to draw was a bit difficult. After trying some small pencils, chalk and crayons, Jazmín found this great crayon-pencil hybrid which was prefect for the job.

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Jazmin stenciling skulls on the flower pots.

I spent the full second day drawing out the map of the the mural on the wall. On day three the color blocking began. It’s more than just fill in the shapes, there’s a whole sequence of layering the paint for each object to get the final look with clean edges.

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I finished the left panel first where the sign will hang.
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Atoles and tamales got me going in the mornings.

This was my first mural that wasn’t done with all aerosol. Since I didn’t have any scaffolding or A-frame ladder, I couldn’t get fluidity with my arm using aerosol, so I used mostly house paint with touches of aerosol for sharing and highlights.

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Jazmin becomes the focus of the mural.

After 11 days of working of the mural, dozens of cups of coffee and a few tamales later, the mural was complete. I worked with Álvaro to incorporate his three-dimensional elements, including a bird cage, giant skull and a mirror in the apple that reads “¿Te peinaste?”.

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¿te peinaste?
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This is the box to put your dreams. No nightmares please!
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Alvaro as the devil…

We celebrated with Tepache, Mezcal, popcorn, friends and a wonderful toast by Álvaro.

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Alvaro and Jazmin off to buy tepache!
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Tepache, mezcal and popcorn to celebrate!

 

Thanks to Leslie, Tanya and everyone who stopped by while I was painting. If you’re in Mexico City, stop by Taller Tlamaxcalli and check out my mural and their workshop of traditional, hand-made, Mexican toys. Taller Tlamaxcalli, Colonia Roma, Calle Chihuahua 129, Mexico City.

Originally posted as My first mural in Mexico City. Reblogged here with the permission of the author/artist. 

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