View from the top of Old Man of Coniston hike in Lake District National Park, England.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Preston, Lancashire, England.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Wyke, West Yorkshire, England on May 29th!

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Alebrijes and Cactus... more touring around Oaxaca City

Yesterday was another great day out touring for the group. We once again booked a van for the excursion and driver Omar showed up right on time for our 9:00am departure.

We headed directly to the alebrijes studio of Jacobo y María Ángeles located south of the city of Oaxaca in the town of San Martín Tilcajete.

It took almost an hour to get there. Oaxaca traffic is never fast moving, and we had one detour due to a tree trimming operation. But we arrived early enough that it was still pretty quiet and we were assigned a bilingual guide right away.

Alebrijes are whimsical wood carvings that are brightly and intricately painted.

Our guide and artist Ricardo explaining about the wood.

True alebrijes are only made out of the wood of the copal tree. The wood of that species is soft and fragrant and easy to carve.

After an explanation of the wood and paint materials, we moved on to the carving shop...

This porcupine had already been painted, but it was back in the carving shop to have the quills installed.

From there, we moved on to the painters.

The first group of painters we saw were in training. It can take up to 7 months of training using acrylic paints before a student becomes good enough to work with the natural pigments.

You need to have patience for this kind of work!

Lots of attention to detail.

When the masters feel their students are ready, they move on to a different area where they paint with totally natural materials.

One of the experienced painters working on a larger piece.

A piece like this partially finished armadillo might take months of daily work.

The fox on top of the armadillo.

We had a look at some of the finished products...

This is one of their first pieces that experiments with gold leaf.

A grizzly bear with a fish in his paw.

The eyes are amazing.

Some of the larger pieces sell for as much as 500,000 pesos ($35,000 CAD, $25,000 USD).

Ricardo, with one of his own creations.

Ricardo began working here at the studio 20 years ago when he was 13 years old. He is a master who does all his own carving and painting. This piece is for sale at 22,000 pesos ($1,500 CAD, $1,100 USD).

But it is only recently that this art form became really popular due to the success of the movie "Coco" in 2018. Disney's Pixar came to this studio in 2013 to learn about the alebrijes as part of the movie. While there, they modeled one of the characters after the cook who supplies lunch for the students...

Mama Elena was the inspiration for the grandmother in the movie "Coco".

Yes, there is a resemblance!

We had a great tour and everybody enjoyed it. Some even bought some of the smaller pieces that sell for as little as 300 pesos ($21 CAD, $15 USD).

From there, we went to a lunch spot where we had a really good meal. The restaurant was called Comedor Los Cántaros just south of San Martín Tilcajete on the main highway.

Next up, our driver Omar had suggested a little known botanical garden called Vives Verde.

The garden has over 200 species of cactus.

Some of them grow into odd shapes.

There is some odd artwork here too!

Some of them grow into really odd shapes!

Beautiful little flowers.

And then we stopped at the giant Tule Tree in the town of Santa Maria del Tule. Ruth and I have seen the tree quite a few times so we didn't go into the enclosure this time.

Pretty church and gardens.

Another fun day! Today we are off to the fantastic Sunday market at Tlacolula.


And in Canada...


  1. I would be tempted to buy a small carving too.

    1. If we still had a house then we might have bought one but there is just no room in Sherman. Maybe next time we go, if you still want one we could pick one up for you.

  2. Replies
    1. So did we, it was very interesting and very well done.

  3. Beautiful carvings with such bright colors. I would buy one. Nice botanical garden too. Looks like everyone had a full day.

    1. We love these carvings, they are very hard to resist. Yes, we definitely had a very full day and everyone really enjoyed themselves.

  4. Love the shot of the purple flower.

    1. The was of a water lily and yes, it was very pretty and the only purple one that we saw.

  5. They sure love to use colours. That is one of the things I love down here.

    1. Yep, we love all the colours as well. It seems that everywhere you look there is a lot of colour to be found. :-)

  6. I remember you blogging about the Alebrijes before. They are so intricate and beautiful. I would love to purchase one some day to display. Perhaps not a $25,000 one, though! ;-) I particularly like the little fox. Lovely.

    1. This was our third visit to this studio and we just never get tired of it. There is always something new there to see. The carvings are fantastic and yes, very intricate indeed.

      The one of the fox is actually attached to the back of the armadillo.


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