Martin MagañaPosted: October 5, 2013
Sr. Magaña is one of the friendliest and soft spoken individuals I know. Its a real pleasure to sit with him in his workshop and to talk about the traditions of Huaraches in the small town of Tonila in Southern Jalisco.
Like most Huaracheros in Mexico, Sr. Magaña is the last remaining one in Tonila. His sons Enrique and Telesforo still help out, but have recently found more stable factory jobs to support their families.
Nowadays the door to Sr. Magaña’s workshop is mostly closed, business is very slow. Although he still gets orders from retailers in Colima for his special Huaraches with white uppers, the profit from those 5 pairs barely covers his gas costs so he turns them down. He makes a few Huaraches for local customers and the odd leather repair on saddles and chairs, but mostly he works on his small plot of land just outside town.
Then before the town fiestas he and his sons make mini Huarache key rings to sell to tourists and relatives visiting from the USA, or other Mexican cities.
Mini Huaraches that are all woven the traditional way on tiny whittled lasts.
The workshop is full of signs that Sr. Magaña once lived and breathed the craft of Huaraches.
He still stores old dusty Huarache designs from back in the day before the use of rubber soles.
Huaraches that were once sold in separate parts at the market and the wearer would weave their own upper at home over their foot instead of a shoe last.
Because these Huaraches are no longer used, nor made and because they seem to be the bridge to the modern Huarache weave, it was important for me to document them as best as I could.
I asked Sr. Magaña if he would show me the process and so he kindly set about cutting a pair of rubber tyre soles for me.
To allow weaving into the sole, slits are first cut into the sides, then animal fat it spread over the surface where the weaving holes are to be punched from. This design prevents the leather strips from contact and abrasion with the ground.
Once the holes have been punched into the top surface of the sole the Huaraches are ready to be woven.
The vegetable tanned leather is cut into strips which are soaked in water for weaving.
The Huaraches de “Gamarra” as they are know are then woven onto the foot and are worn until the leather dries.