Writing a book

Mr Bezos… you certainly have the money to do better… so why is Create Space (for self publishing) like something out of 1992 rather than 2017?

I thought the hardest part of writing a book on Mexico’s paper mache (cartonería) tradition, especially since I have no monetary interest in it, would be the research and the actual writing.  That turns out to be the easy part.

Publishing, even in this era of self-publishing, seems to be the real stumbling-block.

I went through the usual publishers of books on Mexican handcrafts but got rejections or no response. Oh well… let’s try Amazon/Kindle.

To say these are not user-friendly environments is an understatement. I do not know if this is because they do not want to put the development money into making a better interface or they want to discourage submissions. I believe I have about 85-90% of what the Create Space interface wants, but I am stuck with formatting issues I cannot resolve. And for some time, no money to hire someone to do this for me.

So I have decided to “publish” my book in pieces here, with the hope that it at least gets read… but if I dare to really hope, maybe attract the attention of someone willing to see that the work of Mexico’s paper mache or cartonería artisans, gets more and better attention than it does now.

I will start with the shortest part of the book… the introduction.

1 Introduction

To Anglo senses, Mexico is a never-ending wave of sight, sound and movement. Parties go on until the early morning and festivals, both religious and secular go on for days. The importance of celebration in the Mexican psyche cannot be overstated, so it is no surprise to find that there is an entire branch of Mexican folk art dedicated to created celebratory paraphernalia.

Pegando_a_la_piñataBy far, the best known of these is the piñata, originally for Christmas but today also an indispensable part of children’s and even some adults’ birthday parties. But the use of paper and paste to make stuff for celebrations does not stop here. It extends into laughing skeletons for Day of the Dead, giant wearable masks and puppets for various festivals, monumental figures to commemorate historical figures and events, effigies of Judas Iscariot that are exploded on Holy Saturday and even giant colorful monsters which now have an entire annual parade held in their honor in Mexico City.

Cartonería is generally harder and more culturally relevant than any school paper maché project in the United States, but it is still “ephemeral.” Except for those made for collectors, objects are only meant to be used for a specific purpose or ritual, then destroyed during the event or discarded afterwards, no matter how much effort was put into it, which is almost always considerable.


The world of Mexican handcraft and folk art is like the famous Russian matryoshka dolls; what you see on the surface indicates many hidden layers underneath. Decades of introduction of Mexican handcrafts to foreign collectors have raised awareness levels, but to date there is no complete volume dedicated to this handcraft tradition in either Spanish or English. This book serves as both an introduction and a reference into a world of paper skeletons, monsters, dolls, traitors and more…. but never with malicious intent.

Mexico’s paper maché, its history and traditions are unlike any other in the world, and is still evolving…


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