Virgins, mermaids and Frida Kahlo arrive in Puerto Escondido

Irene R Aguilar Alcantara and one of her ceramic mermaids

Irene R Aguilar Alcantara and one of her ceramic mermaids

I didn’t expect to see mermaids when I woke up this morning. But I just got back from the annual Dreamweavers Women’s Weaving Cooperative sale, hosted by Patrice Perillie at Casa Tejesuenos, and realized even Sundays in Puerto Escondido can hold surprises. The event features weavings from the Tixinda Cooperative in Pinotepa de Don Luis, a community high in the mountains above Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico.

Weaving demonstration at annual Dreamweaver's sale

Weaving demonstration at annual Dreamweaver’s sale

They weave magic on their backstrap looms using yarn dyed blue from the anil (indigo plant), red from the cochineal (cacti bugs) and purple harvested from purpura snails. The weaving is rare and beautiful and, judging by the huge turn-out of shoppers at the event–highly-prized.

Get there early for the best selection

You had to get there early for the best selection

Gina Machorro ( Tourist booth fame) and a family of visitors

Gina Machorro ( Tourist booth fame) and a family of visitors

What surprised me most this year was seeing mermaids, fantastical figures and Virgens of Soledad among the weavings.  Then I met master artisan Irene B. Aguilar Alcantara and it all became clear.  She’s a member of the Aguilar family, renowned folk art craftspeople from Ocotlán de Morelos. You can read about their work on Friends of Oaxacan Folk Art but Irene is best known for her sculptures of musicians, Frida Kahlo, ”women of the night”  and catrinas, the elegantly dressed female figures for Day of the Dead.

A human catarina in Patzcuaro

A human catarina in Patzcuaro

I was first introduced to the cult of catrinas in Morelia, Mexico (read more about my experience in Celebrating Life and Death in Patzcuaro). Today  I was  thrilled to be reunited with the magical quality and humour of Mexican folk art ceramics. Irene’s imagination  shines through in her work and is a perfect fit with the Dreamweavers resilient spirit.

I can’t wait to see what surprises await at the Dreamweavers 2014 event.

Credit: irene Aguilar

Credit: Josefina Aguilar

Contact Irene at or visit her studio in Ocotlan de Morelos, Oaxaca.

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Beginner’s Guide to Beaches in Puerto Escondido Mexico 

How to Find a Vacation Rental in Puerto Escondido 

Swimming with glowing bioluminescence in Manialtepec Lagoon 



Michele Peterson
Michele Peterson
Dividing her time between Toronto, Mexico and Guatemala (or the nearest tropical beach), Michele Peterson is an award-winning writer, blogger, editor and publisher who specializes in travel, cuisine and luxury lifestyles.
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Showing 6 comments
  • esperanza

    LOve the whimsical statuettes and the glowing colours of the tapestries, all original and beautiful

  • Carol Perehudoff

    That Frida really gets around. Wasn’t she just in Toronto? All that and mermaids, too. Sounds lovely.

  • Colleen Friesen

    What a fabulous photo of Irene B. Aguilar Alcantara. Wow. She’s so beautiful. So sorry I missed this event.

  • Lesley Peterson

    What gorgeous ceramics and weavings! That purple is so vivid–wow:o

  • Sue Holder

    Great article Michelle and the photographs are beautiful, especially the one of Irene. I hope you got a mermaid . I did !

  • Name *

    la pieza de frida es de josfina aguilar no de irene

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