Otomi Embroidery Is for Me

 image otomi pillow bed

Long, long ago a cute couple got married.  Their wedding was small, simple and lovely and 100% DIY.  And yes, I am talking about my nuptials with my husband Steve 11 years ago.  I didn’t want a traditional wedding at all. I designed and styled the entire beautiful thing using a colorful Indian theme.  The first big decision we made was to create a great invitation with supplies we already had on hand.  The end result was a hand-embossed white invitation.
Letterpress invites would have been wonderful, but instead, I created a template out of cardboard and rubbed the design into the paper.  We chose an image of two Indian love birds (actually a peacock and peahen).

image wedding invitation

 I guess I need to do a post about our wedding, because it was beautiful and there is a lot to tell about it from a design point of view.  But this post is about something that happened after the wedding… the honeymoon.

image sunrise cabo san lucas mexico honeymood

image honeymoon selfie newlyweds cabo san lucas mexicoWe were really lucky to receive as a wedding gift, a place to stay in Cabo San Lucas for a week.  We used mileage points and flew away to Mexico.  As soon as we pulled up at our hotel I fell in love.  On the benches at the entrance of the hotel were huge, amazing embroidered pillows of animal and plant designs.  What I didn’t know then is that they were examples of a very old Central-Mexican craft called Otomi.  The embroidered images are said to be based on images from cave paintings.

Usually a natural colored cotton fabric is covered with freehand drawings and the embroidery is created by using a satin stitch over the drawings.  The animals (deer, birds, armadillos…) and plants depicted are usually seen in profile. Stitched in beautiful bright colors, they are stunning.

Since Mexico is so inexpensive we were able to stay within our travel budget, and purchase some gifts for people.  The one thing I really wanted as a souvenir for myself was a bunch of Otomi embroidery pillows.  One day we went to the lovely town of San Jose del Cabo to shop, and I was really bummed out when we discovered that Otomi was actually quite expensive.  I had imagined getting many sham sized pillow covers for our apartment.  After lots of contemplation we splurged and bought ONE 12″ x 16″ embroidered piece of fabric showing Mexican love birds, reminiscent of our wedding invitations.

That lovely Otomi embroidery piece sat stored in a bin with antique lace and linens that came from my grandparents’ house for 11.5 years (we moved that bin twice).  So, today the big news is that I rediscovered it, picked a fabric for the backing (from my famous fabric stash) and had my mom create a pillow cover.  We finally have it on our bed.  I would still love to have more Otomi, but after so long I am good with our little purple love birds.

image otomi pillow bed home decor



You can buy some amazing Otomi pillows like those pictured below, from The Little Market.


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Thrift Store Secret: Down/Feather Pillow Inserts

image down feather pillow inserts
I think throw pillows look great with goose down/feather inserts.  The poofy-ness and the squishy-ness scream luxury.  On the other hand, fiberfill inserts fall kind of flat but they are very affordable and readily available. But I need down/feather inserts for the throw pillows in my house and I have figured out a way to find them for less than $5 a piece!  They aren’t that expensive, but I see no need to buy new when I can reuse and save money at the same time while getting the look I love.

Even though the pillow racks at thrift stores might give you the willies, (you know, dust, mildew, etc.) I have learned over the years not to be afraid of thrift store throw pillows.  You just need to be brave and give those dusty old pillows a little squeeze.  You can easily identify a down/feather insert vs. fiberfill.  When you find a pillow with a squishy-feather filled feel, buy it!

image pillow inserts down feather

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You’ve Gotta Be Crewel to Be Kind

When I am thrift shopping I always look for antique and vintage things that are handmade.  Generally, the quality and materials are better than anything you can buy new.  Knit sweaters and mittens, embroidered pillows, crocheted afghans, needlepoint and crewel work and more.  When I was growing up my mom was always working on some such project, in between making clothes, and I know the tremendous amount of time that is involved in each creation.  It is more time than I am willing to put into any one craft but I truly appreciate every one-of-a-kind work-of-art I find.

The other day I found two pieces of groovy 70s Crewel work, which is embroidery with a wool yarn.  They looked very sad lying there along among the teddy bear posters and framed country scenes, they had to be saved.  I am sure both pieces were made by the same person because of the colors and the very unconventional way they were mounted and framed.

image crewel work picture mushroomsThe first one, seen on the left here, is a small piece with mushrooms, a bee and a snail = 1970s cute.  It cost 49 cents.

Once I got it out of the “frame” and removed the layers of ancient tape and staples, I plunged it into cold water to clean off decades of dust.  Then all it needed with a good pressing with some steam to look super crisp and like new.

A simple white frame was the perfect way to keep it looking modern.  I got an IKEA frame from my stash (I always grab imperfect frames at IKEA from their “seconds” area) and it looks great, as you can see below.  It will be a great addition to the playroom walls.

image crewel work picture mushrooms

The second piece will take a lot more work to get it rehabilitated, more on that soon.



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Harper Gets a Doll of his Own, and So Does a Child in Need

My daughter Trixie loves to take care of her special rag dolls.  Her favorite is her Wee Wonderfuls doll my mom got her for Christmas a couple of years ago from The Land of Nod.  She gets the whole bed to herself.

image girls bedroom yellow pink bed

They are tall, soft, and lovable.  The girls pictured below are Clara and Agnes and are available at The Land of Nod.

image wee wonderful doll Clara, Land of Nodimage of Wee wonderful doll Agnes, Land of Nod

Sometimes Trixie lets Harper play with her special girls, which is lovely when it happens.  He usually gets pretty frustrated that he doesn’t have his own doll.  It doesn’t matter how many rag dolls we find him in our stash, Harper wants a boy doll.  I decided that I would find him a boy doll for Christmas that is equally as fabulous as the Wee Wonderfuls are.

I spent hours searching online whenever I had a spare moment during the pre-holiday madness, and finally, after days of looking, I found it!

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Valentine’s Day

image crayon hearts

Being out of grade school for so many years, I forgot what an important holiday Valentine’s Day is for school kids.
image homemade valentinesIn 2010, when Trixie was in Pre-Kindergarten, I wanted to find something easy for her to do that was creative and fun for both of us.  I had her paint on watercolor paper and fill the whole page.  After the page dried I cut out large heart shapes.  Then we attached the hearts to pieces of patterned scrap paper I had lying around, added some drips of Elmer’s glue, and dusted the glue with glitter.  The glitter kept flaking off, so I made simple envelopes out of tracing paper and closed them up with a sticker. They were so cute!image homemade valentines

After school that day, we looked through her valentines and I was surprised that they were all store-bought character cards or candies.

What had I missed in the 25 years I had been out of the valentine game?

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