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A pretty mistake

15 Jan

A pretty mistake

Introducing my newest design, our Santa Cruz banderitas! Personalized and custom color small papel picado flags. Originally designed for a rush order, but it turned out that the couple was having a non-denominational wedding! (Not that I go around adding crosses to everything. It was a detail provided in their design inspiration images. Either way: oops!) Needless to say, I neutralized their flags with a quickness by cutting a flower over the cross. But the original design is too pretty to let it sit. So, I’m happy to offer them in the shop!

Sold by the dozen.

Dia de Los Muertos Altar for Lencho and Ester Flores

9 Nov

I had the opportunity to participate in the Dia de Los Muertos exhibit at Palm Springs Art museum again. This year, it was at their beautiful new satellite location in Palm Desert.

The altar was in honor of my grandparents. It was a family effort, con mucho amor!

Florencio “Lencho” Moreno Flores (1924-2004)

Maria Ester Ochoa Flores (1928-1998)

They were both born and raised in La Sara, Texas. They were married on August 6, 1947. They enjoyed over 50 years together.

Long-time residents of Indio,CA, they settled in the Coachella Valley in the early 50’s.

Rancho Las Flores, Thermal, CA 1980. That’s me as a baby.

Lencho was employed in farm labor and agriculture from an early age. He was known for his friendly warm smile, generous hospitality, compassionate heart and optimistic outlook. He was a supporter of the labor union movement in the 1960’s and of Cesar Chavez. He was very patriotic and extremely proud of his sons and daughter who served in the military. Above all, he was a spiritual man and a devout Catholic; serving his church and all the community through prayers and songs.

Making buñelos, early 1990’s

Ester was a farm laborer as well. Later, she became a full-time homemaker and mother. She only had a third-grade education and knew very little English, but she was blessed with a sharp mind and an uncanny ability to stretch a dollar a long way. She managed the household expenses and the family savings with an iron fist; yet she generously always had a place in their home for extended family and traveling friends to stay.

She was a devout Catholic and very spiritual as well. Privately, she practiced traditional healings of the indigenous people of north Mexico & Texas, and was respected for her teas and powerful prayers. It’s no accident that two of their daughters are nurses and another daughter and son are mental health professionals.

Lencho and Ester had 6 children, 15 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren. We love and miss them!

My dad and his dad. Thermal, CA. 1979

Making the Altar…

Me and my Mom, installation day.

Fully assembled & lit for the evening’s festivities.

About the altar:

  • Photos of their farming days create a path to the steps, representing the transition from their earthly life of hard work and toil in the sun to a celebration of their transcendence to Heaven, where they are happy souls reunited and free.
  • Ester loved roses and the color pink. After their passing, the family remodeled their home. Twice the house was painted beige and twice the paint mysteriously dried pink.

Their wedding picture in the background…

  • The lovingly created central figures (above) were made by their son, my tio, Florencio ‘Jayar’ Flores.

  • The molcajete and comal, (cooking instruments), were Ester’s. Her fantastic Tex-Mex cooking is dearly missed. The plastic fruit bowl and doilies were hers as well.

  • I designed and cut the papel picado with lyrics from one of Lencho’s favorite songs, De Colores.

  • The paper flowers were made by their great-granddaughter, my daughter, Bella, age 13.
  • The wooden plaque, “La Familia Flores”, hung over their front door. It now hangs at my parents’ home.

Final daytime view.

The saddest part is always taking the altar down. All the physical pieces are put away and we are again left with the memory of our loved ones. I cheered myself up with the knowledge that my daughter now knows her abuela’s face and got to hear many stories of her life over the course of working on this project. Her memory lives on!

Election Day 2012

6 Nov

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It’s Election Day and we can officially say that our Viva Obama papel picado banners raised a total of $155.00 for the Obama for America 2012 election campaign!

As they sold, we were donating $5.00 per banner. They went all around the world: from Australia to the UK to Canada. We even got to send some to Ohio’s campaign headquarters! Thank you to all who purchased for participating in your democracy and supporting both the campaign and small business. It was a win-win-win experience!

How-To: A Papel Picado Tutorial with free VIVA OBAMA template

20 Sep
The Mexican holiday, Dia de los Muertos is coming up right around election time. Papel picado is a common decoration for this holiday’s festivities. Papel picado is cut or punched paper, made from stacks of tissue paper with the use of chisels, punches, hammer and blade. Here is a how-to tutorial for you Obama supporters! It is meant to be an introduction to making papel picado using the most-widely available modern tools. Hey, we don’t all have access to a blacksmith to make us custom chisels.
VIVAOBAMA_papel_picado_AYMUJER

This original design is free [for personal and educational use].

You will need:
Design template
X-Acto knife, blade #11 or #16 (as pictured)
About 6 sheets of tissue paper
Glue stick
String
Surface to cut on (a self-healing mat works very well)

Directions:

1. Download and print out the design template.

2. Stack the sheets of tissue paper with the printed template on top. Leave room (about an inch) above the top of the design for a flap. It may help to staple everything together to prevent shifting as you cut. Just carefully remove the staples when you are done.

3. Cut out the white areas of the template. Hold the knife firmly. Press hard. Make smooth, continuous cuts. Be brave! Use the non-cutting hand to hold your paper down around your cut.

4. Trim the edge off.

5. To string your banner:

  • Fold the top edge of a flag.
  • Open the fold and apply glue stick gently to the flap.
  • Lay your string in the crease.
  • Close the fold and press it closed, from the middle > out.

6. Pick a spot to hang up your work!

If you’re not an Obama fan, that’s cool– I have another tutorial over on Etsy.

Not the crafty type? These banners are also available in my shop. $5 for each banner is donated to the Obama for America campaign!

Annnd, I’m back!

19 Sep

Hello everybody! I’ve been so busy over the last 6 months. Many changes to the shop. I’ll be writing more about that in detail over the next week. In the meantime, here are some highlights:

  • The demand for hand-cut work finally surpassed my physical abilities. After much travel and research into our options, we invested in a laser cutter to help expand production. This change is HUGE.
  • We are now a team of three. For more info about ¡Ay Mujer! and to see photos of our studio, you can visit our beautiful About page over on Etsy.
  • At last, I can accommodate larger orders in a reasonable turnaround time. Hello event planners and brides with big ideas! Call me, girl!

Other highlights:

  • I joined Twitter… I know. How late am I to the party? Anyway, if you feel so inclined, follow me. I’ll post works-in-progess photos, new designs and the occasional Sample Sale. @aymujershop
  • My Los Novios banners are in the new October issue of Brides magazine!
  • I’m pretty excited because now I have time to work on new designs. I can’t tell you how good it feels to be able to grab a pencil and get to drawin’.

One thing I’ve always wanted to do is sell framed original paper cuts. I’ll leave you now with a look at the first of these, available in the shop:

“May You Have Good Health and Happiness All of Your Life!”
Framed original papercut papel picado flag.

Amor for Zorro, Geocaching and the Long Beach Reads One Book Program

1 Mar

So begins another adventure, as adventures often do, with a friendly email and bit of luck…

I was contacted by the organizer for the Geocaching Challenge in this year’s Long Beach Reads One Book Program held by the Long Beach Public Library Foundation. I get lots of requests for donations to charity and community events, but this message was crazy-friendly and she signed it “Di (Di pronounced in Spanish, not English – Dee, not Die)”.

A woman after my own heart. 

In her words: “Each year they host an event called “Long Beach Reads One Book” (now in its eleventh year). A book is chosen by a committee, and then for roughly a week in March, several activities are scheduled, such as lectures/presentations/discussions, demonstrations, nature walks, etc, etc, etc. In short, this year’s book is Zorro by Isabel Allende…. If you have read the book, then you know that the story has several themes, among them mission life during the early 1800s, rancho life, life in early Los Angeles, relations between the Spanish and the Native Americans in the region, pirates, the Napoleonic Wars, Spanish history/end of the Inquisition, secret societies, etc.”

Awesome. I love Isabel Allende, my mama is a retired librarian, and I’ve listened to the entire unabridged Zorro audiobook, (loved it) a few years ago! So, other than that, the next thing that caught my eye: geocaching. What is that?

Again, in Di’s words: “This year, in addition to the “traditional” types of activities and events, the Foundation is adding GEOCACHING to its lineup, and that’s where I come in. If you have never heard of geocaching, please click here and watch 8 minutes worth of video If you don’t have eight minutes, hopefully you have at least six, in which case watch the first and third videos. My husband and I have been charged with creating the “Geocaching Extravaganza” for this event. In all, we plan to hide anywhere from six to ten caches across the city, to be found by community members, young and old, during the month of March.” 

And so it was that I came to meet Di and I talked myself into cutting over 100 mini papel picado flags for a geocache in a Long Beach Public Library as “loot” for fellow book lovers.

I also scored a couple of tickets for my me & my mama to go see Isabel Allende speak later this month!

These are the flags I made for the Zorro Geocaching challenge.

We settled on a romantic design for the flags as they represent the festive spirit of the residents of El Pueblo de Los Angeles (as depicted in the book), and specifically the marriage of Don Alejandro and Regina (parents of Diego/Zorro). Click here for the Foundation’s webpage for the One Book Geocaching Challenge.

But, when it came down to it, I still wasn’t sure what this whole geocaching business actually was. At Di’s urging, Fernando & I went to the official Geocaching website, signed up for a free membership and did a search for any cache near our home address. We were floored when we saw that the nearest one was less thank 2 blocks away! We excitedly fumbled for our smartphones, found a GPS-enabled geocaching app, and downloaded the free trial. 5 minutes later, we were walking out the front door with our son, Elias, in tow.

Our first geocache! It was a "nano" magnetic, bullet-sized canister that unscrewed to open.

The logbook inside the cache was a strip of paper that unrolled to reveal 34 signatures from previous geocachers.

It takes a special kind of nerd to enjoy the thrill of the hunt for nothing more than bragging rights and a higher tally next to your Geocaching profile name. Turns out, I am one. And, even better, I married one. We are hooked. Elias, however, is skeptical because he’d been secretly hoping for buried treasure.

We are looking forward to finding more caches. It’s a fun and free activity for families (a rare thing these days). Plus, you get to work together as a team. It was Elias who actually found the cache- we were stumped!

One last thing: there is a Geocaching 101 workshop this weekend being held at the library where my flags are hidden. If you are near Long Beach, I urge you to give it a try and please let me know how it goes!