After just over 2 months my first Huarache exhibition at the MAP museum in Mexico City closed this week.
The Museo de Artes Populares is a very beautiful world class museum dedicated to Mexican Crafts. They are a true patron and I am so grateful for their interest and help.
At long last, I’m very pleased share my Huaraches exhibition at the stunning MAP museum in Mexico City from Feb.28th to May 6th.
This unique exhibition will feature the finest and rarest bespoke traditional Mexican woven footwear.
The most complex leather weaves made by the most talented and few remaining Huarache Artisans.
This exhibition is a dream come true and I would like to thank @map_mexico museum very much.
Vincente Torres Perez and Jacinto Lucas De La Cruz are the last remaining Huaracheros in Atoyac, Jalisco.
The Huaraches in Atoyac have the distinctively pointed soles. Srs. Torres and Lucas make many styles and their most popular are the “Tejido” in the “Finito” (fine weave) version.
The “Tejido Sencillo” Huarache with the “Fuerza” strip of leather on the toe.
And the “Tejido Sencillo” Huarache.
They also refurbish old Huaraches, something I have never seen before. In this case the customer wanted to keep the original leather sole and an new upper was woven into it.
All their Huaraches are made using the same traditional techniques using wooden mesquite lasts.
Many Huaraches are also made to measure.
All the strips of leather are softened in oil and water and left to dry overnight before weaving.
The workshop “Taller” where Don Vincente and Don Lucas work is about as authentic as it gets.
A cool open space with adobe walls and a thatched roof, old wooden tools and vegetable tanned leathers abounding.
They still had a child’s version to the traditional field Huarache the “Alcapoyo”. This Huarache style is one of the oldest and simplest styles. The likely successor of the “Pata de Gallo” and the design bridging that to the complex woven ones we see today.
For orders Don Vincente and Don Lucas can be reached at the following NEW number: 372.410.2115
The traditional Huaraches from Rio Verde in San Luis Potosi are constructed/lasted in an interesting way.
The upper is made in 2 pieces which are individually nailed flat between the insole and outsole.
Once the Huaraches look like a sole with wings, the 2 flat vegetable tanned leather sides are wet and then cinched together with laces to form around the last.
I often wondered if and when this moment would come.
Its a heartbreaking choice to make, since I care so much about this craft.
But after a number of years the time has come to hang up my Huaraches and taking a step back. My Museum exhibition is still scheduled for February and I will continue adding a few photos on http://www.huaracheblog.tumblr.com, but I will be leaving Mexico indefinitely tomorrow.
The last seven years have been my most amazing and intense journey of highs, lows and switchbacks. Like a pinball, down the rabbit hole into the real, raw and unsheltered world that is traditional rural Mexico. I never imagined that my interest in one object; such as a woven rustic leather sandal from rural Mexico, could reveal so much about humanity and myself.
The Kindness, Joy, Strength, Beauty, Tragedy, Deceit and Danger I experienced in Mexico have forged an emotional bond that is very hard to break. Mexico where everything felt possible, but was equally improbable, so inspired me to challenge the status quo and extend myself as much as I could. As a Design Consultant, creating a Huarache Brand and New Huarache Designs, Researching and Supporting the Craft and its Artisans across Mexico. Not to mention learning an new language and business administration…oh and the heat!
But maybe I tried to much, over extended and now this chapter has seems to have reached its natural end.
I hope my work on Huaraches has helped, and that others in their own ways will continue to help sustain this precious cultural treasure, which is not just Mexican, but of the World.
I encourage everyone who sees an opportunity to do meaningful good in their life to take it, albeit with a little caution and more careful planning. Because you may not get a second chance in the short time we have on this little rocky ball spinning in space.
I’m very grateful for this special opportunity of a lifetime and for everyone I met on this journey.
Thank you all for your support.
I hope I will be able to return one day, and until then my friends, hasta luego.
P.S. I will not be selling anymore Huaraches. But you may be able to buy directly from the artisans by visiting The Huarache Directory HERE
Muchas veces me he preguntado si y cuando llegaría este momento.
Es una decisión desgarradora de tomar, ya que quiero tanto a esta artesania.
Pero después varios anos ha llegado el momento de colgar mi Huaraches y dar un paso atrás. Mi exposición de Museo aún está programada para febrero y seguiré agregando algunas fotos en http://www.huaracheblog.tumblr.com, pero mañana dejaré México indefinidamente.
Los últimos siete años han sido mi viaje más increíble e intenso de altos, bajos y retrocesos. Como un pinball, por la “amadriguera del conejo” en el mundo real, crudo y sin abrigo que es el México rural tradicional. Nunca imaginé que mi interés en un objeto; Tal como una rústica sandalia en cuero tejido de México rural, podría revelar tanto sobre la humanidad y mí mismo.
La bondad, la alegría, la fuerza, la belleza, la tragedia, el engaño y el peligro que vivi en México han forjado un vínculo emocional que es muy difícil de romper. México, donde todo me pareci posible, pero fue igualmente improbable, me inspiró para desafiar el statu quo y extenderme tanto como pude. Como Consultor de Diseño, creando una Marca de Huaraches y Nuevos Diseños, Investigando y Apoyando la Artesanía y sus Artesanos en México. Por no mencionar el aprendizaje de un nuevo idioma y incluso en la administración empresarial … oh y el calor!
Pero tal vez traté de extender demasiado y ahora este capítulo parece llegado a su fin natural.
Espero que mi trabajo sobre los Hauraches haya ayudado y que otros en sus propias maneras continúen ayudando a sostener este precioso tesoro cultural, que no es sólo mexicano, sino del mundo.
Animo a todos los que ven la oportunidad de hacer un bien significativo en su vida para tomarla, aunque con un poco de precaución y una planificación más cuidadosa.
Porque tal vez no tendrás una segunda oportunidad en el corto tiempo que tenemos sobre esta “piedrota” que gira en el espacio y que llamamos tierra.
Estoy muy agradecido por esta oportunidad especial de toda una vida y por todos que conocí en este viaje.
Gracias a todos por su apoyo.
Espero poder volver un día, y hasta entonces mis amigos, hasta luego.
P.S. No venderé más Huaraches. Pero tal vez pueden comunicarse y comprar directamente de los artesanos, visitando The Huarache Directory HERE
For years I’ve shared photos of Huaraches and regrettably not enough of the Artisans who make such beautiful designs and their personal stories.
A few photos from an exhibition I’m preparing at a major Museum early next year.
©2017 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED MARKUS KITTNER
I first saw José Espino’s boxing boot type Burras in the market of Irapuato and was very lucky that the stall owner gave me his phone number.
Sr. Espino also makes the cleanest Burra boots which look a bit like Timberlands. He calls this style “Huarache Fino”.
When on Wednesday I travelled to Puruándiro to visit him, I also discovered that José is probably the last Artisan in Mexico making the most traditional Mexican boots which he calls “Huarache De Pala Abierto” which I had only ever seen at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto.
But probably more remarkable is that he is 87 years young and works alone!
The “Pala” Huarache is essentially a hand stitched moccasin boot.
Except the insole is made of stiff sole leather that is wrapped wet and formed over the Huarache last. See how over the years the nails have created a line across the last.
I wonder if its origins could come from Native American Moccasins like those worn by Navajos.
José Espino cuts each thick leather insole and sole by hand over the last without using molds, or cutting dies. In this photo below he is piercing the insole to show me the stitching process.
The “Pala” Huarache is a very original and traditional open toed Mexican boot. The style is also known as the “roba mais” since land owners prohibited workers from wearing these boots in corn fields saying corn kernels could be scooped into the boots and stolen.
Then about 40 years ago the “Pala” Huarache was made fashionable by closing the toe, giving the boot a more commercial appearance.