Don Lupe is a potter of age who, of pure chance, resonated in the mind of a person when he remembered the affection who was an architect who had a love for the pottery of San Miguel Aguasuelos, a town that remains in Veracruz, Mexico.
The potter and his wife, whom we finally found under the instructions of "live there, where the tree with the pink flowers", opened the doors of their house with care, because their home, built with plates, has sharp axes.
With a smile of worn teeth, Don Lupe showed joy when he heard the name of that architect he had known for some time.
Thanks to the lack of light that a spotlight finally offered when dancing on the cable, the table containing his latest creations was visible. From bells and molcajetes to complicated churches with saints and even a folkloric representation of an airplane, the rustic elaboration of this trade almost relegated by new technologies was revealed.
There they were: those ceramic churches that are a vague memory in the minds of some. There were those who even gave them to foreigners some time ago so that they could appreciate the Mexican handicrafts and now they repent because they do not know if they will find them again.
Waiting for visitors
The creative hands of Don Lupe give each piece a unique shape. The color is a soft whitish coffee, and with decorations in a darker color, it touches them with creativity here and there.
The clay comes from its own soil and bakes it in the back of your house.
The churches of Don Lupe, depending on the size and complexity, cost between US $5 and US $30 while the price of the bells and dishes does not exceed a dollar. The most elaborate crafts, such as the plane, are around US $40.
The majority of the inhabitants of this town founded in 1668 are dedicated to pottery and hope that visitors will enter the unpaved streets of the town and stop to admire their work.
Of course, unless the visitors have an adventurous spirit, only those who live at the entrance of the town run with luck. Aguasuelos is not the only one.
10km from the center of Oaxaca, in western Mexico, is San Antonio Arrazola, another of the many towns where artisans sell their works in their homes.
With more infrastructure, this town has houses a little more elaborate. There are even small shops and workshops dedicated to the sale of handicrafts.
The idea of the alebrijes, whose elaboration is one of the main trades in Arrazola, is based on the creation of carved copal animals that are then hand painted with creative, colorful and detailed designs. Each person who seeks to make their own crafts has to go to the valley and collect the wood.
Some artisans, such as Manuel Jiménez Hernández, have an extraordinary view from their homes: Monte Albán, one of the most representative archaeological sites in Mexico, looks at them from the top of the mountain.
Although San Antonio Arrazola has more presence in the Mexican collective mind than Aguasuelos, some of his works in the place have a low price. A 12 cm x 12 cm alebrije lizard that costs US $ at the craftsman's house, can be sold at US $20 or more in stores in Mexico City. And that's an injustice that lead the artisans to leave their trade behind.
In shopping websites and businesses with private interests, this type of crafts can reach amounts of up to three figures in dollars.
Of course, if in the locality you see a foreigner's face, the prices may go up, but the final gain does not seem to compensate the time invested in carrying out the work.
Helping the Arts & Crafts
Despite the feeling that the visitor can take, according to documents published on the website of the Ministry of Social Development (SEDESOL), towns such as Aguasuelos and Arrazola do not seem to be left to their own devices.
The list of beneficiaries records that the people of San Miguel Aguasuelos received help from programs, mostly from SEDESOL, but also from the National Fund for the Promotion of Crafts (Fonart).
With these supports, the number of people benefited reached in 2010 has been 211 in a demography of 309 inhabitants.
On the other hand, of the 1,070 inhabitants of Arrazola, 722 obtained support thanks to similar initiatives of SEDESOL.
In addition to this, there are several places, organizations and people dedicated to promoting handcrafts to help keep this cultural art afloat, including the National Museum of Popular Cultures in Coyoacán, which studies, preserves, disseminates and develops popular culture in Mexico, and the Museum of Popular Art in Mexico City promotes crafts through exhibitions, workshops, seminars and competitions.
However, there are many artisans like Don Lupe whose lives are still difficult and there is no better support or memory than to go personally to these magical towns, meet their creators and take the experience imbued in the skin and in the unique pieces that have been decided. to buy.