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    MEXICAN OTOMI EMBROIDERIES

    by: Kris Mattson of http://yourstyleeyes.com

    My home is filled with an eclectic display of Latin American pottery, glass, art and fabric. As a young teen I fell in love with this bright, colorful and creative folk art while vacationing in Mexico.

    My whimsical Otomi cushioned bench

    It is definitely hard to pick just one of my favorites to blog about because my home is filled with the spirit of Mexican culture.  I have chosen to showcase Mexican Otomi (O-toh-mee) embroideries though, in hopes that you too will find inspiration to seek out textiles that are special and meaningful for your home.

    When I decided to discuss the beautiful art of the Otomi people from the mountainous state of Hidalgo, Mexico, I asked Stefany Gonzalez, founder of Jacaranda Home, if she would help explain the story behind this luxurious textile. Over the years I have purchased several pieces from her and value her expertise in Latin American art.

    Like me, Stefany first spotted Otomi embroideries while on family vacations in Mexico.  She too remembered the vibrant colors and playful patterns of this embroidered design.  So in 2005 she started selling them in her New York City home furnishings store and has been providing them ever since. Being featured on the June 2006 cover of Domino Magazine — a top design website and publication — was clearly an influential moment for her, the Otomi artisans and Mexican art.          

    When friends ask me what Otomi fabric is I never know how to give it the justice it deserves. It takes months for an Otomi Indian to complete just one embroidery project, and the quality of the materials and methods used are unlike anything you will find from your local fabric store. The large vibrant patterns are playful and energetic making them suitable for contemporary as well as rustic styles.

    According to Stefany, “Manteles as they are called in Mexico, are hand embroidered traditional designs on natural cotton canvas (manta). They are labor intensive with the largest pieces taking up to three months to make.”

    Stefany explains that the unique stitch Otomi artists use to embroider the manteles are much stronger than they look. Which I can personally attest to with two cats constantly sleeping on my Otomi covered bench and not a thread is loose! But Otomi is not just used to recover furniture.  Many use it as bed coverings, pillow cases and even lampshades, for its eclectic animation.

    Otomi also make wonderful framed art and colorful table runners, table cloths, napkins and placemats.  Even top fashion designers have dialed in on this design pattern. Otomi inspired designs have surfaced on luxurious handbags as well as on iconic labels such as Hermes scarves. Stefani said that recently they have been using it for headboards and custom furniture.  She says that the “whimsical and playful animal and plant patterns have an ethereal fantasy feel, making this art more recognizable now and being used on tile, wallpaper on bags and clothes.”

    So what do the embroideries of antelope, rabbits, roosters and other creatures mean to these creative Otomi artists? Stefany said that her supplier, Esteban, who lives in Tulancingo, Mexico, explained the meaning of the drawings this way: “Traditionally the patterns were based on Otomi legends of ceremonial practices along with the images of the beautiful plant and animal life in the region.” “Each community in the Otomi region of Mexico has their own designs and artisans.”

    So Otomi styles are similar — but no two patterns are ever exactly alike — making them unique yet rich in tradition.  The artists pour their hearts and souls into these very time intensive designs making the price of authentic Otomi higher than your typical fabric.  Considering the quality and time consuming effort behind the designs, I purchase Otomi textile like I purchase art.  To be seen, admired, discussed and enjoyed.

    If you want to add an Otomi embroidery to your home and are on a budget, I suggest framing a small piece or having pillows or a runner made.  This you could do for less than $100.  For a more dramatic affect, try recovering a chair, headboard or bedspread.  Larger Otomi pieces for this project will run you a few hundred dollars depending upon the designs and colors you choose.

    In my home I enjoy showcasing original art that makes for good conversation–whether on my walls, in my rugs, or in my textiles. The craftsmanship and spirit of Otomi moves me so much, that I included an Otomi inspired design with my blog name (Go back and look!). My home is bright, playful, and welcoming just like the art of Otomi.  I wanted my blog to send that same warm and inviting message to readers.

    If you are looking for a change in your home or style, discover artisans who move you and add their work to your conversation. Bring in designs from your own heritage or from those cultures that inspire you from travel, family or friendships. Find YourstyleEYES!

    If you enjoy the look of Otomi and Latin American textiles as much as I do, Stefany Gonzalez would love to help you with any questions or special orders.  Just visit her website www.Jacarandahome.com or email her at info@jacarandahome.com.  ALSO Check out the Otomi inspired décor I feature in the BEHOLD post!

    *Jacaranda Home will offer a 20% discount for my followers! Simply use code “yourstyleeyes” at checkout!

    Check out Kris' blog here http://yourstyleeyes.com/mexican-otomi-embroideries/

     

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