I am super excited to finally reveal the newest addition to our guest room. The wall above our convertible couch used to be bare (like this), and we weren't quite sure what to do with such a large white space. We considered painting over it, maybe even try a graffiti, or printing a huge panoramic picture of a city like Barcelona. Then, while I was looking for information in order to properly denounce Mara Hoffman's plagiaristic use of Otomi tenango's in her designs I found what we wanted: a 1.80m x 1.90 m hand-embroidered textile to be exposed on the wall as art and give joy and color to our visitors. You can see what I mean by looking at my inspiration on this board. Apparently these textiles are very popular on interior decoration blogs such as Apartment Therapy, Open House, Mafalda's mama, Absolutely Beautiful Things and Design Sponge. I also found a post by Uauage, a high-school classmate and friend of mine, who upholstered a bench with one of these textiles, with beautiful results.
As for the origin of these textiles, which I can not emphasise enough, Wendy Circosta summarised it very clearly:
"Made by Otomi (Nah-Nu) women in the Tenango Valley of Hidalgo, Mexico, this multicoloured textile squares are embellished with embroidered whimsical characters and crisp graphic shapes,and include animals such as turkeys, armadillos, deer, hares, parrots and floral motifs. Commonly known as tenangos, this style of embroidery can be traced back to pre Aztec Meso-America with the symbolism, iconography and colour ways of the pieces reflecting the time-honoured traditions and beliefs of the Otomi people. Traditional designs featured on Otomi textiles are said to originate from prehistoric wall paintings located in the Tenango region and symbolise man living in harmony with the natural environment.
An economic crisis caused by a severe drought in the 1960s devastated the predominantly subsistence farming region of the Tenango Valley. Considering alternative ways of making a living, the Otomi looked to their artistic heritage. Successfully melding modern ingenuity with ancient traditions helped restore the rich cultural inheritance and ethnic identity of the Otomi Indians, in addition to assuring international recognition of Otomi embroidery as an art form in its own."
Now, for the DIY part:
1. send your mexican relatives / friends / acquaintances on a road trip to Tenango de Doria. They will enjoy the beautiful sights of the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range and contribute in a tangible manner to the local communities. Of course if you happen to be staying more than a week in Mexico I can only recommend you go in person. Get a tenango of your choice, you will find workshops and handcraft shops in the center of the town. Ask for tablecloths or bed covers if you would like a large one like us.
2. head to your local home improvement shop and get 4 pieces of wood of the required size, a wood stapler, a saw, and two-sided tape. Cut the corners of the wood pieces and join them with staples on both sides to make a frame with the wood and staple it together.
3. Paste double-sided tape all around the wooden frame and stick your tenango to it. This part is tricky if you pull too tightly and there is too much tension of the textile on the frame, it will fall. We had to make the wooden frame smaller several times until we got the size right. To strenghten, reinforce by stapling your textile to the frame in the corners or middle.
4. Voilà- You are ready to hang it and admire it forever.