Arts and crafts in Mexico City

There are an estimated 8 million artisans working in Mexico.

Eugenia Melián. 03/09/2015
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FONART shop in Mexico City. (Photo: archivo.eluniversal.com.mx)

I just discovered the beautiful copper tradition of Santa Clara Del Cobre at the state-run FONART shop in Mexico City, thanks to my dear friend Ignacio Garza and our incredible guide Luciano Concheiro.

«FONART stands for Fondo Nacional para el Fomento de las Artesanías or National Fund for the Development of Arts and Crafts. It was established in 1974 to promote and protect traditional Mexican handcrafts. The agency has four main programs including artisan training, retail selling and the sponsoring of craft competitions as the local, regional and national level.»

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Mata Ortiz pottery from Chihuahua at FONART. (Photo: Alejandro Linares García)

«The overall purpose is to protect and promote traditional Mexican handcrafts, opening national and international markets for craftsmen as many of these workers live on poor, rural and indigenous areas. There are an estimated 8 million artisans working in Mexico, and FONART directly helped 26,600 of them in 2006. Those who live in impoverished or indigenous areas have priority. In 2007, the agency had a 71 million peso budget, 42 million pesos of which were generated by sales of crafts.»

«FONART has four different programs to promote and benefit Mexican handcrafts. These involving artisan training, technical assistance, financing, craft competitions and a government buying program.»

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FONART shop in Mexico City. (Photo: fonart.gob.mx)

«Training is offered to help artisans improve the quality and design of their products, while maintaining traditional cultural elements as well as making production techniques more environmentally friendly. Grants are awarded to qualified individuals or organized groups mostly as an alternative to traditional banking. Annual regional competitions to honor artisans who have excelled in their craft, as well at those who stand out in areas such as innovation and the preservation and rescue of traditional techniques. Competitions are held at the local, state and national levels. Winning pieces are then considered to be high-value items.»

«FONART also has a buying program where pieces are purchased directly from artisans at regional centers or through agents that travel to crafts areas periodically. FONART also buys pieces from different state-run institutions that promote crafts.»

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Some basketry at FONART. (Photo: Fashionsphinx.com)

I loved this shop. I only had the time to go to the one on Avenida Juarez and I know there are several others. For anyone who is into arts and crafts this is a treasure trove: ceramics from Talavera, Mata Ortiz and Jalisco, textiles, basketry from Tenancinga, copper crafts from Santa Clara Del Cobre, rugs from Teotitlan Del Valle, glassware from Tonalá, furniture, engraved silver,  embroidered art, from all over Mexico… I fell in love with the copper vases from Santa Clara but only had the space to bring one in my suitcase. Next time !

Below is a selection of the copper pieces at Fonart. Unfortunately no photography is allowed so excuse the bad quality picture.

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Selection of the copper pieces at FONART (Photo: Fashionsphinx.com)

 

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Selection of the copper pieces at FONART (Photo: Fashionsphinx.com)

 

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Selection of the copper pieces at FONART (Photo: Fashionsphinx.com)

And this is the big copper vase I brought back to California for my boyfriend, now full of dahlias from the garden. I love its primitive shape.

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Big copper vase (Photo: Fashionsphinx.com)

There is another wonderful folk arts and crafts shop at the MAP or Museo De Artes Populares. MAP is a very special place that you should visit as soon as you arrive because it will give a unique overview of the populars arts and traditions of Mexico ( the first place you should visit is the National Museum Of Anthropology or Museo Nacional De Antropologia for a detailed historical and political overview)

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At MAP, I took this shot of their silver crafts display. (Photo: fashionsphinx.com) /  At MAP, a hammered silver jar with bird from Taxco, Guerrero. (Photo: Alejandro Linares García)

I really advice to bring extra luggage when you visit Mexico City. Who can resist ? And on this wikipedia entry you have the names of all the artisans with their own wikipedia page. So interesting to read about their craft.

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