Just Cross-Stitch Reprise

When I was about seven years old, my mother gave me a cross-stitch kit for Christmas. Along with several skeins of embroidery floss, it had a piece of cotton fabric stamped with the pattern of a little house, some flowers, and the motto “Home Sweet Home.” Oh, I struggled. I didn’t know to make all […]

A New Generation

Chamula, Chiapas Next Generation

Much of the work of Thrums Books has been to document endangered traditions. Much of the focus has been on “last generations”—those elders whose children have gotten some education and fled to the cities. So it’s been a real pleasure these last few weeks to work with a young woman who lives and breathes her cultural […]

Going Global

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Veronica Peak, beyond the village of Chinchero, Peru. Photograph by Joe Coca from the book, Faces of Tradition. FAR AND AWAY In the process of writing a book, Thrums Books authors and photographers travel to some pretty faraway places, tucked in jungles or on the edges of giant mountains. Sometimes they just live there. Either […]

Traveling Chiapas: The Perfect Bag

  A Gem From The Chiapas Archives This story has two parts. It starts when I was in a tourist shop in Eastern Mexico in 1997. Flung on the shelf amid the usual stuff—bright pottery, Aztec gods, naughty little clay figures, painted wooden jaguars—was this bag. “Cuanto questa?” I asked in my pathetic high school […]

Who Chose That Typeface?

Chances are it was my long-time designer sidekick, Michael Signorella. When he works on a Thrums book, it’s not just the typeface—it’s the column widths, size of the margins, selection, size, and appropriate placement of photos—all those things we tend not to notice in a well-made book. Fine Design He’s pickier than I am, a […]

Huipils and Magic: Memories of Mexico

huipil, Chiapas, Mexico

Handmade in Chiapas As Maya huipils go, those from Oxchuc in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico are not my personal favorites. They’re characterized by bold graphic stripes, often crimson on white, with odd embroidered points at the neckline. Chip Morris, author of Textile Guide to the Highlands of Chiapas, argued that the points should be […]

Maya World

When Linda Ligon proposed recently that I work as the associate publisher for Thrums Books, I couldn’t believe my luck. How fabulous would it be to help make those brilliant books and introduce them to the world? What I’ve always loved about Thrums books is the view they offer into the lives of indigenous people, telling their stories, their history, […]

Textile Traditions Old and New

Traditional Weavers of Guatemala

Weave a Real Peace (W.A.R.P.) is an organization devoted to bringing together people who love indigenous textiles, are devoted to the artisans who create them, and who work in various ways to create economic opportunities to help the traditions survive. I just came back from the organization’s annual conference, “Blending Tradition and Textiles.” It was […]

How do you say “poor thing” in Spanish?

Oaxaca Stories in Cloth

I’ve traveled a lot in Latin American countries. Peru, Bolivia, Guatemala, Mexico—all countries where Spanish is the common language. And yet I’ve never learned Spanish. Oh, enough to ask where is this and do you have that and how are you and so forth—but I can’t really follow a conversation or respond intelligently. I’ve made […]

Mission Accomplished

I haven’t posted here in ages, but not because I’ve forgotten about Thrums Books. I’ve been up to my elbows in Maya Threads: A Woven History of Chiapas, and now it’s finally ready to go to press. I spent a good part of yesterday cleaning my desk of the loose parts – literally five reams […]

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