Category Archives: oaxaca

Inspriation: Zapotec Designs

We spent Sat­ur­day with our friend Demetrio Bautista Lazo the weaver. In addi­tion to eat­ing too much. (Gra­cias, Mari­bel por la comi­da muy deli­cioso!) We went walk­ing around the town of Teoti­t­lan.

That’s Demetrio show­ing me a tree of life rug that he’s work­ing on.

my friend demetrio bautisa

This the dome of the local church..

the church in teotitlan

As was com­mon when con­struct­ing colo­nial church­es the walls were built using the stone from the exist­ing Zapotec build­ings. Some parts of the plas­ter of the new walls has been removed and the designs on the old stones are vis­i­ble.

I’ve fooled around with try­ing to com­plete some of the geo­met­ric designs. There’s usu­al­ly not enough of the pat­tern to be cer­tain of how the whole was put togeth­er. Though as I col­lect more exam­ples I think I will find enough frag­ments to recon­struct some of the lin­ear designs. (Click on the thumb­nails for larg­er ver­sions.)

These two seem sim­i­lar and may be relat­ed enough to make a larg­er pat­tern out of:

triangle and sawtooth design 1triangle and sawtooth design 2

Two wavy pat­tern that remind me of the snail pat­tern used in some of the rugs.

horizontal waves patternvertical wave pattern

This sec­tion of the wall con­tains sev­er­al small bits of pat­tern and the image of a bird­like crea­ture. The dia­mond pat­tern in the low­er cen­ter is very com­mon in rugs. I’ll have to ask Demetrio if he knows who the bird is.

bird creature and smaller geometric fragments

A final pic­ture of sev­er­al very small frag­ments. I am sus­pi­cious of the flow­ery vine chunk in the upper left. It’s too nat­u­ral­is­tic to be Zap­totec, per­haps it is a bit of some ear­li­er church or chapel., or bit of this church reused in mak­ing repairs.

several unrelated small fragments

edit­ed 25.june.2008 to cor­rect image links

New Techniques

I’ve got a shiny new copy of Pho­to­shop CS3 and have been exper­i­ment­ing.

In Pho­to­shop Cre­ative Col­lec­tion v3 (no link avail­able) there’s a tech­nique that mim­ics pen and ink. Some­thing that is sim­i­lar to some water­col­or and ink work that I did a cou­ple of years ago.

I did the tuto­r­i­al and got this effect.

section of tutorial exercise

Which I liked well enough but I think the ink lines are a bit crude. Per­haps as a result of my not being a true ace with the graph­ics tablet, yet.

I’ve gone on to exper­i­ment with some oth­er images and am slow­ly devel­op­ing a ver­sion of the tech­nique that I like.

For some pieces I’m build­ing the col­or in Pho­to­shop and then print­ing the piece and ink­ing it my hand. I like the results I’m get­ting from print­ing on 140# cold press water­col­or paper. (Usu­al­ly the smoother side.) It takes ink from the inkjet well and the slight tex­ture gives the hand inked lines a nice vari­a­tion.

I’m also try­ing to find ways of cre­at­ing a black-line lay­er with­in Pho­to­shop. It’s tricky to get the over­lay to have enough infor­ma­tion to pick out the details of the image with­out over­whelm­ing the nice blocks and blobs of col­or that I work so hard to make.

balloon seller

This is part of a piece based on a pho­to­graph that my hus­band took in Oax­a­ca. I used a hand­ful of fil­ters to cre­ate the black over­lay. (I can go back and look them up if you want the gory details.)

I think this has promise.

Oh and if you were here with me look­ing out my win­dow you’d see this.

view out of my window

snow — Yikes!

One Finished and One Not-So-Much

Work on the bal­loon sell­er pic­ture is com­plete. You can see a full-size dig­i­tal ver­sion here.

(no small ver­sion today — can’t get it to resize cor­rect­ly — maybe tomor­row)

The image in the gallery is a dig­i­tal ver­sion that I made for Jim to use on his desk­top. It mim­ics the effect of being print­ed on Arch­es 140 CP water­col­or paper by using a col­ored back­ground and an applied tex­ture. It’s much clos­er to the actu­al print­ed ver­sion that I can get with a cam­era.

Anoth­er of the Oax­a­ca pic­tures that I’ve been work­ing with is not so com­plete.

I start­ed with this pic­ture of the old pow­er house in Vista Her­mosa that is now the Taller de Arte Papel Oax­a­ca. (Art paper work­shop — mak­ers of very cool hand­made papers.)

jim’s original photo of the power house

The block­ing for the piece isn’t great on screen:

murky art work

It prints as an even murki­er mess. I think the prob­lem is los­ing the detail in the shad­ows in the foliage. I’m going to leave well enough alone for a while and work on some oth­er images. I like this one too much to just aban­don it but I’m not mak­ing any progress for the moment.

Favorite Objects

These are match box­es. I buy them in Oax­a­ca Mex­i­co. The actu­al­ly come with match­es in them. Though I have to throw them out before I try to bring the box­es home.

I got these two box­es in Cora­zon Zapote­ca in Alcala street in Oax­a­ca. Both are approx­i­mate­ly 2 12 x 4 12 innhes.

La Sire­na is one of the cards in the game of Lote­ria.

la sirena loteria card on a match box

The Vir­gin of Guadalupe is every­where in Mex­i­co.

virgin of guadalupe on a match box

Buffalo — Newly Arrived from Mexico

We’re just back from the Gath­er. (Pho­tos here.)

Yes­ter­day this fine fel­low arrived from Mex­i­co (via San Diego.)

handcarved and handpainted buffalo

He was carved and paint­ed by our friends Jacobo and Maria Ange­les who live and work in Tilca­jete, Oax­a­ca. You can see more of their work on their web page. (If you get a chance to stop by thi­er restau­rant I rec­om­mend the Chile de Agua Rel­lenos. Wicked good.)

side view of the buffalo

We ordered the buf­fa­lo when we were in Oax­a­ca in Feb­ru­ary. The carv­ing was already done and we chose the basic col­or mix but the details of the paint­ing is always left up to the painter. It’s always a sur­prise when the piece arrives.

The head shot shows some of the details and his lit­tle bit of a frown.

buffalo head

I have sev­er­al pieces that Jacobo has made for me. All cats, until this one. One of these days I’ll dig out pic­tures of the rest of our pieces and some of our vis­its to Jacobo and Maria’s house.

Garden Report

From some­one else’s gar­den.

Here in Oax­a­ca you can buy flow­ers from ven­dors in the Zoca­lo. 45 pesos gets you enough baby gar­de­nias to fill two glass­es.

baby gardenias

baby gar­de­nias


An exhibition of books in Oaxaca

Each time I am in Oax­a­ca I stop into the Casa De La Ciu­dad. There is always some­thing inter­est­ing in the lit­tle sala to the right of the entrance.

When I was last there (Sep­tem­ber 2008) it was the exhi­bi­tion -Los Libres, Los Via­jes, y El Tiem­po (Books, Trav­els, and Time — rough­ly)

los libros, los viajes, y el tiempo

los libros, los via­jes, y el tiem­po

The prob­lem of how to let peo­ple look at/through old­er books is not often solved at all let alone nice­ly.

display column

dis­play col­umn

Here they have scanned/photographed the cov­ers and por­tions of the text from sev­er­al books that tie in with the exhib­it. Then bound them togeth­er and left them out for peo­ple to look at.

not something you're likely to find on display in the USA

not some­thing you would find on dis­play in the USA

These aren’t sophis­ti­cat­ed fac­sim­i­lies. They’re just-good-enough repro­duc­tions that aren’t expect­ed to last beyond the cur­rent exhib­it.

reproduction of the text pages

repro­duc­tion of the text pages

They are scanned and then print­ed sin­gle sided on mat­te pho­to paper and “bound” by being sta­pled at the left mar­gin. The sta­ples are cov­ered by cloth tape.

There was this one that fas­ci­nat­ed Jim — the excerpt was from the anten­nas chap­ter.

an early radio manual from Mexico.

an ear­ly radio man­u­al from Mex­i­co.

This one is fine just for the cov­er illus­tra­tion.

that's quite a cover for a botany book!


This is a great solu­tion to the prob­lem of how to let peo­ple get hands on with books that can’t take the han­dling.

Cheap, tidy, and cer­tain­ly the only way I’ll ever get my hands on Dueno del Mun­do by Julio Verne.

dueno del mundo por julio verne

dueno del mun­do por julio verne

Day 2, in which we visit 3 churchs and 1 bar.

Today we took a lit­tle walk­ing tour with our host Jane and a cou­ple of oth­er guests.

A block away from the Casa there is a lit­tle alley on the back side of the local mar­ket. It’s a good place to stop for a soda in the shade.

a pedestrian alleyway near the casa

a pedes­tri­an alley­way near the casa

The Vir­gin of Soledad is the patron of the City of Oax­a­ca. Her church is near enough to hear the bells in the morn­ing. The top of the front facade is coat­ed in paint­ed plas­ter.

the facade of the basilica of San Jose

the facade of the basil­i­ca of San Jose

Inside the Vir­gin her­self is above the altar. You almost can’t see her for the roco­co dec­o­ra­tions.

virgin of soledad

vir­gin of soledad

City hall is right next door. The cen­tral court yard is a pleas­ant place to wait.

the central court of city hall

the cen­tral court of city hall

Tucked in a cor­ner of the first floor is the time clock.

time clock in city hall

time clock in city hall

After spend­ing time in restored build­ings we went to see the bar called Los Dan­zantes. In a typ­i­cal colo­nial build­ing but with very mod­ern decor.

sign and masks on the wall above the bar

sign and masks on the wall above the bar

The bar itself was made out of blocks of crushed cars.

the bar at Los Danzantes

the bar at Los Dan­zantes

This is one of my favorite court­yard foun­tains in the city.

modern intreptation of the court yard fountion

mod­ern inter­pre­ta­tion of the court yard foun­tion

Then on to anoth­er church. Sto. Domin­go de Guz­man. This is the ceil­ing in the rosay chapel. Usu­al­ly there is a love­ly white vir­gin in here but she’s been moved for the week­end to the main sanc­tu­ary.

ornate ceiling in the rosary chapel

ornate ceil­ing in the rosary chapel

Tomor­row (Sun­day) the city will be cel­e­brat­ing the ded­i­ca­tion of this new retablo. It’s huge and very shiny. A lot of time (3 years) and mon­ey has been spent on it.

new retablo

new retablo

You see the strangest things on the bul­letin boards in lit­tle court­yards. This was out­side the door of Black­Box, one of my favorite ‘mod­ern’ art stores.

learn Japanese in Oaxaca

learn Japan­ese in Oax­a­ca

The last church of the day was the Cather­dral in the cen­ter of the city. it was filled with hun­dreds of these bun­dles of lilies because Fri­day was the fes­ti­val of El Senor del Rayo. Our Lord of the Light­en­ing Bolt is what they call the cru­ci­fix housed in the side chapel that was the only thing that sur­vived a fire start­ed when light­en­ing struck the orig­i­nal thatched roof.

one of a couple of hundred bundles of lilies

one of a cou­ple of hun­dred bun­dles of lilies

The city is start­ing to dec­o­rate for the day of the dead.

day od the dead decorations

day of the dead sol­dier

Day 1 — In Which We Slack

The first day here in Oax­a­ca is always a lit­tle slow.  I’ve been beat­en up by the air­lines, the alti­tude change is more than 5000 ft, and there’s the nec­es­sary trips for sup­plies (beer.) Lead­ing to not doing much.

A brief after­noon stroll to try out the new lens was all the ambi­tion I could muster.

We first stopped at the church of Soledad. One of my favorite land­marks.

dramatic clouds

a stormy look­ing sky, but it didn’t rain

Then turned around on looked up the street and made a cou­ple of test shots of the new 12 – 24mm and the kit lens (18 – 150mm) that I’ve been using for the last two years.

With the old kit lens — which is still my go-to lens for any­thing that doesn’t require big zoom. Get­ting the wide shot here push­es the lens a lit­tle too far.

taken with an 18-105mm Nikor kit lens

every­thing bends a lit­tle at the edges.

But the new lens takes this sort of back-against-the-wall and hope it all fits in the frame stuff in stride.

taken with a 12-24mm aspherical lens

that’s bet­ter, the walls are straight.

A few blocks lat­er it allowed me to cap­ture this nov­el screeen with­out hav­ing to shot at an angle. Those bright bits are the mesh shop­ping bags that you see by the dozens in the mar­kets every day.

those used to be shopping bags

pret­ty sub­stitue for tarps

Sun­day is a slow day here. A few hours lat­er the Zoco­lo will be packed with strolling fam­i­lies and the local band, but this ear­ly in the after­noon there’s just not much hap­pen­ing.

what? no double parked cars? must be sunday.

slow sun­day

Though a hint of the evening’s crowds is here in this line­up of ham­burg­er and hot dog carts on their way to the cen­ter of the town.

on parade

the ham­burg­er and hot dog carts mov­ing toward the zoco­lo

I spent my time play­ing with a new lens — but Jim was work­ing hard and got some great images. You can see them on his own blog — obser­va­tions. Ignore the chimp­ing pho­tog­ra­ph­er. le sigh.