James Bond’s skeleton makers

The opening of the 2015 James Bond film Spectre was filmed in Mexico City and is meant to depict celebrations of Day of the Dead in the city. While not entirely accurate, the skull masks and giant skeletal figures that parades on the street were made by a local cartoneria (paper mache) cooperative, whose work … Continue reading James Bond’s skeleton makers

National “Encounter” of Traditional Cartonería (paper mache)

Over the centuries, the various branches of Mexican handcrafts have seen their ups and downs. Some have disappeared and some struggle to make a comeback. Cartonería (or hard paper mache) can be classed in the latter category. It reached peaks in the 19th century and again in the mid 20th century, until the banning of … Continue reading National “Encounter” of Traditional Cartonería (paper mache)

The maker of giant, bouncy puppets

San Miguel de Allende was once described to me as the “Disneyland” version of Mexico… In the center of the city, everything seems almost perfect, clean, orderly all colonial or colonial style buildings in great condition… not to mention the large castle-like facade of the main parish church.   Gringos are everywhere here, and their … Continue reading The maker of giant, bouncy puppets

Changing Xochimilco, changing occupations

The change from rural to urban living can cause a kind of identity crises in families. However, some find creative ways to tap into the old to adapt to the new. Alejandro Camacho Barrera comes from a long line of people who worked the land in the south of the Valley of Mexico, in Xochimilco. … Continue reading Changing Xochimilco, changing occupations

Paper Mache as an urban folk art form

When most people, even Mexican handcraft/folk art collectors, think of the subject, our visions are mostly of rural Mexico, of places like Oaxaca and Chiapas, wth adobe houses, nature and often indigenous people teaching the craft through generations.  This is not without reason as the Mexican handcraft tradition has been buoyed by the tourism industry, … Continue reading Paper Mache as an urban folk art form

Continuing the Linares family tradition

Leonardo Linares prefers the term “artisan,” shunning the word “artist,” which has been applied to him by entities such as the British Museum. The reason is that he believes that as an artisan he has more creative freedom.   Leonardo Linares is a fifth generation “cartonero” or maker of paper mache folk art, which is … Continue reading Continuing the Linares family tradition

Monsters and pulque

  In Mexico, folk art is not limited to rural or indigenous communities. Although covered by hardly any artesanía publications, there are artisans in Mexico City and other urban areas, creating rather extraordinary works. Mexico City's borough of Iztapalapa is the entity's largest and most populous, often a landing zone for people migrating from other … Continue reading Monsters and pulque