Monday, July 30, 2007

Day Off

This Wednesday, we were finally given a day off (and by day off, I mean "there are still activities going on but it is optional to attend"). Since I had ducked out of the Sunday market trip, I decided I had it in me to take part in the optional activities, which involved touring the town of Etla, and boy am I glad I went.


We started our day in Etla by touring a paper workshop, where they make handmade artisanal papers. The workshop was up on a hill in Etla, and the view was absolutely stunning. I shot the photo above from the outdoor deck where they were airbrushing stencil designs by Francisco Toledo (the most famous living Oaxacan artist) on kites made of handmade paper. Not too shabby, huh? The workshop only uses natural fibers for their papers. Here is our cute tour guide showing us all the fibers they use:


He demonstrated how they make a sheet of paper for us. This is the "chop"/watermark that gets printed into their papers:


After the tour, you can browse through their gift shop. And, as you can imagine, a bunch of art students in a handmade paper store is like a bunch of kids in a candy shop. Plus, they make jewelry out of their papers! Super interesting and creative:


Yes, those are just rolled up papers strung up as bracelets and necklaces! They also had earrings.

After the paper workshop, we walked around the art school in Etla, whcih was just stunning. It used to a be a textiles factory and it was converted to an art school. WOW. The place was amazing. I would love to take classes there!




We had lunch at a cute restaurant in town and headed over to a glass factory, where they make ear plugs like these:


The owner of the place, Jason, was from the States. He was super nice and gave us a pretty extensive tour of the facilities. We learned a lot about glass and its production. Jason is really great to his employees, training them and giving them pretty extensive benefits.


We walked from Jason's workshop to another glass studio run by another American, except this time, the studio specializes in using recycled glass. Apparently glass blowers don't like to use recycled glass because it can be difficult to work with. Xa Quixe (the name of the studio) has perfected a technique and formula for working with recycled glass, and the studio was also very green compared to many other studios in the states, capturing heat from their furnaces for the kiln and other small refinements that reduced their energy use to approximately 40% of the usage of an equally sized studio.

One of several ginormous piles of used glass:


That gets turned into these, artisinal mezcal bottles. The top row is populated by their "warped" bottles, which are also very popular.


We also got to see one of the employees blowing glass, a really fascinating process:


I had been waffling back and forth about going to Etla because I sort of wanted a day to myself, but in the end I was glad I had the chance to check out this beautiful town and meet a couple of really interesting artists doing fabulous things for their adopted country.

No comments: