The Other Squares Bag (Mexico)
The Other Squares Bag (Mexico)
- From The Oaxaca Collection.
- Handmade by Graciela and Gerónimo in the Valles Centrales of Oaxaca, Mexico.
- 100% wool exterior and woven strap.
- Grey interior with an extra pocket, zip closure.
- Handwoven on a fixed, pedal-operated loom.
- 19” x 15.5”
This bag, the "Other Squares" bag, was made by the Cuadrados bag's husband, Geronimo, though they both work together on all things. Of the bags made by this artisan duo in the collection, this and the Cuadrados bags were the most difficult to make. This chic new design was a design suggestion on my part, and I couldn't have been more impressed with the finished result!
This bag belongs in any wardrobe, and could be called anything from casual to high fashion. You’ll have it forever.
The amount of work that goes into making a bag like this is astounding and, if you see it in person, an emotional experience. The weaving alone on this bag took around two weeks. Each square must be individually woven, and each bag is made from a single woven piece (no cutting!). If you figure in the other processes discussed below, each bag can take months to complete. I have included a few extra photos here about the process, but I also wrote an entire story (see link to story below) you can read here that explains the process and people behind this work in much greater detail.
Graciela dreamt up this contemporary design in her more vibrant Cuadrados bag. She is an exacting perfectionist in her work, and it shows. Her bags are not only the most well made of their kind I’ve seen, but also stand apart in their visionary color and design. No one in her village is making bags quite like hers.
All of the woven bags in this collection are made in the same village, where families of master rug weavers (and, now, some bag makers!) have been employing traditional methods of weaving for many generations. The sheep’s wool comes from local sheep, often raised by the families of weavers themselves, which is then hand combed and spun into large loops of yarn.
The artisan's mother, also a master weaver, spinning yarn:
The natural colors of the wool—white, black (rarer) and brown—can be left as they are (as for this bag) or dyed into a seemingly infinite array of colors, using as many natural dyes obtained from plants, flower, fruit and even insects (the cochineal bug) from the valley as possible. These materials are often mixed with limestone or lemon, for example, to create unsuspecting, seemingly unnatural colors. It’s part chemistry, part art.
All of the weaving is done on pedal-operated looms, which are also constructed by local artisans. It’s incredible to watch the rhythm of masters weaving on these looms, feet and hands working together so quickly and elegantly, putting together tapestries one painstaking row (and, for the designs, a single thread or small line) at a time. Graciela does the finishing sewing work on her bags on a Singer sewing machine, which makes me love them even more (Singer is my last name). This is truly a work of love that shows in the results.