Monday, November 26, 2012

Otomi (tenango) wall: a DIY tutorial

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.
Source
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."

Source
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.



16 comments:

  1. Es precioso, me encanta! Menudo recuerdo más bonito.

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    1. Gracias... y si, nos fascina. A veces me siento un rato a verlo y verlo y verlo.

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  2. Qué hermosura!!!! No tengo a quien enviar en Mexico a que me lo compre, pero anoto para el día que vaya jajaja

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    1. :) Si quieres a la prócima que vaya o venga alguien traemos uno !

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  3. Ya sé a dónde me dirigiré el año que entra mi próximo viajecito dentro de Mx :)

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    1. Si, dicen mis papás que está super bonito por ahí, pasas por bosques y montañas, aunque en sí el pueblito es super chiquito.

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  4. I love the idea of hanging textiles as art. The tenago print is gorgeous! (And I love the quilt on the couch, too!)

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    1. :) Glad to hear you like it ! The quilt is specially meaningful because a). my mom made it out of b). leftover fabric from dresses she used to make for my little sis and me.
      You should definitely show us your project sometime !

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  5. I love it! So colorful! And it goes really well with the quilt.

    In our bedroom, we also have fabric hanging as art. It is a very ornate, thick fabric that D got during his travels in India.

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    1. :) India must be an amazing place...

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  6. Gosh I love that. How exactly might one get ahold of some material if you don't have Mexican relatives? ;)
    I have an idea it could make a beautiful headboard for a bed if you put some padding underneath it... how cheerful to wake up to every day (like your lucky guests!)

    p.s. yey for finally being able to comment again!!

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    1. I'll email you ! But I think there are also some on Ebay.
      It would definitely make a beautiful headboard.
      And I am so glad you can comment again !

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  7. Querida Amanda:
    Espero que no te moleste si llegamos a copiar esta idea, pues luce espectacular. Y cuando las visitas lo comenten, diremos que fue idea tuya...

    Muchas gracias por comentar en la revista electrónica sobre Cortázar. Reproduzco esta respuesta: La verdad es que hemos sido muy afortunados los investigadores que estamos aquí, además los que ya han estado y de los que vienen. El catálogo, aunque no está digitalizado, lo puedes ver aquí: http://www.march.es/abnopac/abnetcl.exe/O7039/ID121e7084/NT1
    sólo escribe la palabra Cortázar en la opción de -cualquier campo- y en la parte superior, donde dice -ambas bibliotecas- selecciona la de la Fundación Juan March. Podrás ver la lista de libros que tenía Cortázar en su biblioteca en París. Saludos y un abrazo".

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    1. Por supuesto que no me molesto, al contrario. Además... nosotros también tomamos la inspiración prestada de otras partes :)

      Gracias por mandar la respuesta, ahora voy a "husmear" su biblioteca !

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  8. That's beautiful! I love all the colors, as well as the culture it represents.

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