One of the highlights of Oaxaca is the small villages with many artisans making wonderful art and folk art pieces. Most villages have a specialty. Rugs are woven in one, ceramics made or wood carved in another.
On the way to Mitla, make sure to stop in the weavers’ shops of Teotitlan de Valle. The village is known for its famous wool carpets. They are beautifully woven and colored with natural dyes in both traditional and contemporary patterns. The bright reds, for example come from the cochineal dye or the bodies of small insects. I have purchased items from Juan Gutierrez at the Gutierrez Galeria at Avenida Juarez #140 and from Bulmaro Perez Mendoza at Centenario #27. The quality is excellent.
Do not miss the village of Ocotlan de Morelos which is home to the pottery of the famous Aguilar sisters, Guillermina, Irene, Josefina and Concepcion. Their homes and studios are next to each other along the main road. Each has a different specialty. Josefina is probably the most well known in the US, but all are well known in the US and other countries. Guillermina is found in the original Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art. Try planning your trip there on a Friday and go to the large Friday Market in the center of town which is large and really a wonderful experience.
San Antonio Ararazola is known for the crafting of Oaxacan wood carvings called Alebrijes. It is the home of the famous Jimenez family. I like the work of Maria Jiminez Ortega. I also like the work of Jacobo Angeles and his wife Maria at Calle Olvido #9 in another small village, San Martin Tilcajete, Octolan. They also have a restaurant, Azucena Zapoteca, and gallery along the main road at the entrance of the village which is a great place for lunch.
San Bartolo Coyotepec is a village close in to Oaxaca that is known for its famous black pottery. There are many shops and studios plus a museum. The Pedro family is well-known with Carlomagno Pedro Martinez the most famous. He is featured in the Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art.
The village of Santa Maria Atzompa is the other well-known pottery village. Decendents of Teodora Blanco, Luis Filiberto Garcia Blanco and Irma Garcia Blanco at Avenida Juarez 302 (01 951 55 89286) are amazing artists. I have several of Irma’s pieces because she is in the Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art book from which I collect. The level of detail in the work is really outstanding. Angelica Vasquez Cruz is also excellent. I also purchased pieces from Ededina Vasquez Cruz in the village.