Thursday, July 22, 2010

Entering Into the Huichol Landscape

I live in Isla Mujeres, Mexico, a colorful place full of bead artisans. Much of what has inspired the new turn in my beading has come from the wonderful artisans I have met on Isla. It was Playa del Carmen, however, that introduced me to Huichol. On a long trip that ended up in Dangriga, Belize, a friend of mine and I stopped in Playa del Carmen for a night. We walked up and down Avenida Quinta, peeking into the high fashion shops that Playa is known for. In this swath of wispy fabrics and scantily-clad models, there is a colorful oasis of artisan work.

I wish I could tell you the name of the shop, but it has since slipped my mind. What I do remember, is that it was my introduction to the Huichol Indians of Mexico, and their amazing jewelry, waxed thread, and waxed bead pieces. I was in love, and could think of nothing else but learning this amazing art. I bought a book about the Huichol, and one necklace from the store.

I studied that necklace and my huichol book for months until I unlocked the pattern. The Huichol consider their art to be a meditative path to enlightenment. Often while travelling this path, peyote is used to heighten the senses. The peyote cactus is prominent in many of the Huichol designs.

I can honestly say, that after creating my first Huichol piece, I felt that I had lifted a veil. My beads made more sense to me. The Huichol also believe that the art you create is manifest into the world at the completion of the project. I like the idea that the flowers and mandala patterns in my pieces are now manifest in our natural world. Here are some of the pieces that I was graced with in this process. Enjoy, and please comment. Have you had a Huichol experience? Or a moment when beading helped you work through something bigger?


  1. The pieces are beautiful! Do you have the title of the book about the Huichol technique? I only saw bowls and vases made by the Huichol people with similar patterns, but with a different technique.
    For me beading is a passion and saved me a lot of times in my life - to stay sane and walk on.

  2. Hi Kokopelli, thanks for following my page. The name of the Huichol book I used as my reference is called Artes De Mexico #75. Arte Huichol. It isn't a how-to, but there are beautiful full color pictures of the Huichol art pieces, and a whole lot of background on the people. The book is in Spanish, with an English translation of the pages in the back of the book. I bought my copy here in Mexico, but I'm sure you could find it on Amazon. It is part of a series of books on Mexican art forms. Hope this helps. Thanks again for following and commenting.

  3. I'm very interested in your work, it is beautiful. Do you know of any good how-to books on the Huichol beading technique?

  4. Hi Raegan, thanks for stopping by. I, sadly, do not know of any books on the huichol beading technique, although there have been books published on huichol bead art itself. Beading is looked at as a part of a spiritual journey for many huichol, and perhaps that is why not much has been published on their technique. I learned by buying pieces that I loved and "reading" the beadwork.