Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sustainable Woven Tule Baskets

Every day should be Earth Day, don't you think?
This traditional woven basket from Michoacán is almost an endangered species, because most Mexicans are now using insulated plastic or styrofoam tortilleros. They do the job and keep the tortillas hot, but most everyone agrees they're pretty ugly. The tortillero here was handmade by an indigenous artisan near Lake Patzcuaro, and the material used came right from the shores of the lake. It's called chuspata there, but more commonly known here as tule reeds. Wrap up your tortillitas in a handwoven or embroidered servilleta (napkin) and serve them in this pretty basket-- and you've got yourself an eco-friendly sustainable item for your home. Plus you're helping employ poor folks in Mexico who can really use the income. The chuspata artisans also make animal figures, and even lamps and furniture that are reinforced and quite strong! It's a sustainable craft that gives your home that touch of soul and charm we all desire. Please contact us if you're interested in making a purchase at We also sell wholesale to stores and restaurants.

I often buy from señora Juliana whose family workshop is located in the pueblo of Ihuatzio. Here she demonstrates figure weaving with another kind of plant material they call popote or straw. You can often find her here at La Casa de los Once Patios in Patzcuaro.

Above is a typical woven fish, one of the many animal figures made by skilled Purepecha artists. Below on the left, a beautiful chuspata tray with handles. And below on the right-- a lovely, yet sturdy chuspata chair and lamp made from tule reeds from around Lake Patzcuaro.

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