Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bird Feature

My parrot mola ornament was featured today on the FoundHandmade blog.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Handmade Raffle for Trina

Trina is a woman I've never met in person, but I have met her mother, sister, brother-in-law, and niece. A sixteen-year breast cancer survivor, she was just diagnosed with cancer again and had to terminate her very wanted pregnancy.

Please go here for some AWESOME handmade prizes you could win by purchasing raffle tickets. Prizes include handmade jewelry, children's clothing, dolls, hair bows, furniture, a quilt, and more!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Bit of Vintage

I love vintage stuff - One of my absolute favorite things to do is dig around at estate sales and thrift shops, looking for interesting treasures. Lately I've been looking for old books with old-fashioned illustrations, and I made all my Mother's Day cards using pictures from a 1950 kids' book, and old buttons.

I wondered how I could incorporate vintage into La Chapina while maintaining the Latin American theme of my shop. Then I found two old books that fit right in! One, from 1942, is a children's book about Peru. The other, from the 1950s, is a Mexican cookbook published by a company that made Mexican food products.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Recent Custom Orders

I've had quite a few custom orders recently - Here are two from last week. The first is a recycled huipil name piece, and the second is a pair of chunky double-stranded bracelets featuring Guatemalan beads and a phrase in Spanish that's an inside joke for the buyer and her friend.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Featured on FoundHandmade

One of my hand-sewn huipil art pieces was featured on FoundHandmade today in a blog post called "Not Your Grandmother's Embroidery". Lots of great colors and designs there!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

One Year Blogiversary

Oops, I forgot my own "blogiversary"! I started this blog at the beginning of April 2008, so I'm now at a year and two weeks.

I've been featured in a few treasuries this month so to celebrate this anniversary I thought I'd share one here, which includes my tagua slice bracelet. Click here for the actual treasury page, which expires tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Huipil Octopus

Etsy seller SewnNatural created a cute octopus using fabric from huipiles! She cut up a patchwork Guatemalan vest to make the little guy, and now she's been nominated in Etsy's Eco-Friendly item poll. You can vote for her here. She recently purchased some huipil fabric from me and I look forward to seeing what else she creates!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Free Shipping For a Limited Time!

I've got exactly 30 days til my one-year anniversary on Etsy. My goal is to hit 1000 sales by 12am on May 8... To help you help me, I'm offering free shipping on all orders to the US and Canada for a limited time!


Simply pay for the items as normal, and I will refund all of your shipping costs through Paypal within 24 hours of payment.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sewing DUH!

I bought my first sewing machine last summer and haven't used it too much. I was trying to learn from the manual, which is difficult, and I had the hardest time sewing in a straight line for the little purse I made.

I hadn't used the machine at all since coming back to the US, so I took it over to my friend's house for a sewing lesson over the weekend. The reason it was so hard to sew a straight line? I had never put the foot down! So the fabric was just going every which way, guided only by my hand.

Now it's a lot easier to sew straight :)

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Check out Sig's blog for a La Chapina giveaway: Your choice of any jewelry item in my shop valued at $14.50 or less! Lots of bracelets, earrings, and even some pendants to choose from!

Hurry - She'll be choosing a winner tomorrow (Friday) at 8pm Eastern :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Easter Stuff

I love Easter - Springtime is by far my favorite time of year, and cute Easter stuff (and candy) combined with the longer days (more sunlight, yay!) and warmer weather make for a wonderful season.

I've enjoyed making some Easter and Springtime items for my Etsy shop...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Adoptive Moms in Business

La Chapina was featured on the Adoptive Moms in Business blog this week. If you are an adoptive mother with a business you'd like to talk about, feel free to contact the site and talk about listing your company in their directory!

Monday, March 16, 2009


Eduardo from Alamo 2003 graciously agreed to provide information about milagros for this blog. Take a look at the many milagros he has for sale in his Etsy shop!


Milagros, also known as an ex-voto or dijes, are religious folk charms that are mostly made in Mexico but are also produced in some other countries of Central and South America. Milagros are an old tradition, used for healing purposes and as votive offerings in Mexico and areas of United States. In Spanish, the word "milagro" means "miracle".

Milagros come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and they might be nearly flat or fully three-dimensional; and they can be made out of gold, silver, tin, or lead.

As part of a religious ritual or an act of devotion, milagros can be offered to a symbol of a saint as a reminder of a petitioner's particular need, or in gratitude for a prayer answered. They are used to assist in focusing attention towards a specific ailment, based on the type of charm used. Milagro symbolism is not universal; a milagro of a body part such as a heart might represent different ideas such as a heart condition, a romance, or any number of other interpretations. Milagros are also carried for protection and good luck!

Milagros are often found as components in necklaces, earrings and other jewelry. They can be a basic part of your inspiration in turning an idea into a beautiful piece of art!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Guatemala Fabric and Bead Mirror Project

This Guatemala-inspired mirror is a fun project for tweens, teens, and adults.

--wood framed craft mirror with flat front (my frame is approximately 9 1/4" X 11 1/4").
--acrylic paints in your choice of one or two bright colors
--varnish (I used Delta Creamcoat Satin Interior Varnish.)
--paint brush
--Guatemalan fabric scraps (you can purchase Guatemalan fabric scrap samplers here)
--Guatemalan beads with flat backs (I used butterflies; others in my shop that have flat backs include the little girls and boys, turtles, suns, palm tress, and more).
--tacky glue
--FrayCheck or other substance used to prevent fabric fraying
--small wire cutters (optional, used if you want to remove little hoops from the top of the beads)

A. Painting/Varnishing
1. Remove mirror from the back of the frame so you can begin painting.
2. Paint the front and sides of your frame in one or two bright colors. I chose blue and yellow. Let dry and apply second coat if necessary, allowing that to dry too.
3. Use paintbrush to apply two coats of varnish (allowing to dry between coats). Be sure to smooth out any bubbles that may appear.

B. Decorating
1. Cut out four strips (mine are about 1/4" wide) of Guatemalan fabric to frame the hole the mirror goes in.
2. Apply Fray-Check to fabric edges.
3. Glue strips of fabric to the frame.
4. Cut out 10 squares of Guatemalan fabric. The squares on my mirror are about 3/4", but you can choose how big you want yours. You could also vary this by cutting out hearts or circles instead of squares.
5. Apply Fray-Check to fabric edges.
6. Spacing them out evenly, with one in each corner, glue the squares to the frame. I set mine on an angle.
7. Select 10 Guatemalan flat-backed beads. If you opt to remove the metal hoops, use the wire cutters at this step (adult supervision strongly suggested for tweens doing this project).
8. Glue the beads onto the frame between your fabric shapes.

C. Final Steps
1. Allow glue to dry.
2. Place mirror back in the frame.
3. Hang and enjoy!

Monday, March 9, 2009

More Vintage Kitsch

Here's another silly souvenir with an Hispanic theme, this one from "South of the Border" in Dillon, South Carolina. I like mid-century architectural details and cars on it. A quick web search leads to the South of the Border web site; apparently this place is still around (with embarrassingly stereotyped Spanish accents/speech patterns typed right out on the home page).

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Prayers in Paint

Etsy seller Rosa Mystica creates religious jewelry, including pieces she makes using vintage Catholic medals.  She also has a special fondness for retablos (or ex-votos), paintings that thank a saint or divinity for help they have given in the past.  These paintings, common in Latin America, depict an instance -- sometimes very strange and unusual! -- of divine intervention.  Rosa Mystica shares her thoughts on retablos here.


I remember the first time I saw a retablo – vibrant colors highlighted a family kneeling in prayer at the bedside of a sick relative while the Virgin Mary looked on in a circle of light up in the corner.  Beneath the image was a description with specific details of the illness and the cure that was brought about through divine intervention by the Blessed Mother answering the family’s prayers. 

I loved it!  I loved the color; I loved the simple devotion of the family; I loved the thought that the saints were hovering over us to answer our prayers; I loved the idea of a thank-you note done in paint to commemorate the miraculous event!  I was hooked and decided to learn more about this style of painting and to try it myself.

Retablos are paintings that serve as visible reminders of the power of prayer.  I’ve found two general types:

  1. A painting of a saint, the Virgin Mary, or religious grouping such as the holy family that has been done like a portrait.  These could be hung in the home just as we might hang pictures of beloved family members that we don’t see very often.
  2. A painting that depicts an event in which someone prayed to a saint or Jesus and received divine help in a specific situation.  These retablos follow a familiar pattern with the “action scene” taking up the most room, the saint appearing higher up observing what’s happening, and a section at the bottom that describes what was going on, which saint was prayed to, and then thanking the saint for help with the situation.  This type of retablo might be hung in a church or in the home as a public way of thanking the saint for his or her help.

Mexican retablos (also known as laminas) are the most well-known and reached the peak of their popularity at the end of the 19th century.  Typically they were painted on tin, but could also be on wood.  A retablo artist (or retablero) might set up shop outside a church with several stock images that could have the details filled in as requests for the paintings were made.  These artists were generally untrained and their paintings are simple and primitive, but could also show great detail and emotion.

I’ve attempted both “portrait” retablos and “action” retablos.  Many people like portrait retablos for gifts.  I’ve done one for my husband who has a special devotion to St. Ignatius and have one hanging in my shop of my favorite saint, Therese of Lisieux. 

The action retablos are a little more challenging – maybe because I haven’t done as many of them.  I’m trying to rely less on training and more on emotion as I do them and remember that they don’t have to be perfect!  Really, that’s what I liked so much about retablos in the first place.  Their simplicity of faith and simplicity of style convey faith in answered prayers.


Erin here again :) My favorite retablo was one I saw in Guatemala. It featured a man who was peeing outside, with a scorpion near his manly bits.   He gave thanks that the scorpion did not bite him!

Here are two other examples of retablos/ex-votos.  

A woman writes that her neighbor's dog had puppies but they were given away, and the thought the woman's baby was her own. However, thanks to the Virgin of Zapopan, the woman was able to get the baby away from the dog before the baby drank the dog's milk. 

A woman writes that she's a bad cook, and her mother told her no one would marry her because of it. However, thanks to St. Pascual, the patron saint of cooks, she is now married to a man who loves to cook.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Peg Princess

I've seen so many cute peg dolls on Etsy, that I thought I'd try my hand making one with a Guatemalan twist. So I painted "Silvia's" face, hair, and bottom but used huipil fabric for her dress and added some crystals to form a flower in her hair.  The other Guatemalan aspects of this piece are the little ceramic butterfly charm behind her, and the embroidered ribbon I placed around the box. I think she came out really cute :)  so I'm going to experiment with a few more.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Kitschy Souvenir

I just got back from a two-week visit with my family and found something fitting the theme of Latin American crafts. Here's one of the items from my dad's "tacky souvenir collection", and it's from Costa del Sol. The women's clothing on the postcard features embroidered blouses and fabric skirts embellished with lace. What's Spanish for "kitschy"?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Huipil Collar Mirrors

Believe it or not, mirrors like these are the very first idea I had for the huipil collars, but I'm only now starting on them. The wood circles and 7" mirrors were things I couldn't seem to find in Antigua.

I've made two mirrors so far, using collars that I've been hanging on to for more than a year. A lot of the thick collars like these are cut from huipiles made in the town of Almolonga. I like how they're turning out... The collars are so vivid, they're just screaming to be used in craft projects!

This post featured on Fiber Arts Friday!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Craft Room Progress Part 2

About two weeks ago, I posted some progress pics of my newly-created craft room. Since then, my husband has put up two shelves spanning the length of one wall and installed closet doors, and I rearranged the room. I've still got several things to do before I'll consider it done, but it's very functional now. I put things in baskets and storage containers (which I already had) that used to be in plastic bags.

Still to go:
  • Fill the nail holes and paint the window trim (we replaced the window in that room and haven't done the finishing details yet).
  • Find or make window treatments.
  • Get closet shelving (so that I can get the boxes out of the corner and organize shipping materials in the closet). My parents are giving me the wire shelving they took out of one of their closets.
  • Put up a cork board so I can neatly display inspiration pictures and info I need readily accessible.
  • Buy folders for storing receipts, etc.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

"Last Chance" Items

I stocked up on lots and lots of beads and prints before I left Guatemala. Still, there are some designs for which I now only have one set or print remaining. So if there are items from my shop you've had your eye on, check out the "last chance" items and make sure you don't miss them :)

Just click here! At the time of this posting, I've got 10 items with the keyword "last".

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Casa de Tesoros Guatemaltecos

I lost track of just how many hours I put into this piece! But I had a great time making it. I painted and varnished it before gluing pieces of huipil fabric (different huipil for every cubbyhole) in and attaching the tiny treasures. Some of these fun ceramic beads, I sell in my Etsy shop, but many I do not, preferring to save them for special projects like these. Some of my favorites here? The little woven basket, the mermaid wearing a Guatemalan blouse, and the tiny car!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

First Bead Show

I went to my first bead show over the weekend, with two of my good friends. I like to find interesting and colorful beads to use with the cute ceramic Guatemalan beads/charms when I make jewelry for my shop. We went on the second day of the show, so there were good bargain bins in several of the booths. Digging through those areas was the most fun part for me! I got good deals on crystals in several colors, as well as some semi-precious stones like garnet and orange agate. My favorite buys were the colorful Czech glass in the "Picasso" finish... Really beautiful. I did see some lampwork cupcake beads that I adored (had seen similar ones on Etsy before, too), but I couldn't justify buying things for myself (as opposed to shop supplies) right now.

I look forward to the next show!

Monday, January 26, 2009

New Huipil Name Piece

I completed this custom order a few days ago - This has the flat adornment instead of worry dolls so it can be placed in a standard glass-covered frame. Some of the huipiles used in this piece are from Quetzaltenango, Almolonga, Coban/Tactic, and Tecpan.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Craft Room Progress

Now that we're back in the US, one of my first projects is setting up a room for crafting and shipping. The room was full of toys, tools, and other things that didn't have another place... and when we returned home last week, I added piles upon piles of textiles, bead containers, and other items to the mess! So it feels good to be organizing.

So far I've cleared everything out of the room, washed the floor, stacked all of the intact (and almost intact) huipiles on shelves, and begun to organize beads. I have a long way to go til it's done, but I now have our old dining room table in there (need to add the leaf) as a workspace, and I'm making use of a lot of the storage that I'd been using for my daughter's baby clothes.

The problem is, now I've got tons of other household stuff to sort through: either to find a new space for or to give away! For now it's clogging up our hallway :)


After about three hours of work:

After about six hours of work:

Stay Tuned!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

We Are Back in the US!

After nearly two years in Guatemala, our family of three is back in the United States! We just arrived last night.

As for the future of La Chapina Crafts? Don't worry, I accumulated a LOT of textiles, beads, and other craft supplies and brought them all with me! We hardly brought any of our own clothing, household items, or books home... All the suitcases were packed full of items for crafting! (And we were verrry lucky that the guy at the counter let some of our bags through without charging us for the extra pounds!)

In the coming weeks I'll be adding a lot of new items, like beads, Claudia Tremblay prints, and huipiles I've never had in the shop before. Stay tuned :)

Thursday, January 8, 2009


I just finished this custom piece, which I made by hand sewing a used huipil collar and letters (which I also cut from used huipiles) onto fleece. I hadn't done any "wall art" recently, having been kind of focused on Christmas ornaments, nativities, and ceramic bead/charm jewelry in recent months. But it's nice to make a variety of things, and I've stashed away lots of collars for use in projects like these!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Featured On "Our Great Green Globe"

Check it out here :)

Bracelets in Spanish

Since I have ceramic letter beads for making personalized bracelets, I recently made a few bracelets using Spanish words. I've made a few so far, with "Amor" (love), "Amistad" (friendship), and "Mi Amiga" (my friend). There are a lot of words I can't make because I don't have any beads with tildes or accents!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Packing Woes

It looks like we'll be moving back to the US in a couple weeks, so I've started sorting and packing. Each of the three of us can bring two checked suitcases and a carry-on on the plane, and already I'm worried about fitting everything! We're leaving most of our clothes, toys, and books behind, but I have a HUGE amount of beads, textiles, and various other supplies to cram in.  

So far I've filled our three largest suitcases with (heavy!) fabric, and I've still got a lot more to pack. We're going to have to buy two more big suitcases, and I need to stop buying huipiles!  I don't know what I'm going to do if our suitcases go over the weight limit... Wear four or five of the huipiles on the plane, I guess! 

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Cinta from Chajul

Here's our friend, Y, braiding a cinta from Chajul into my daughter's hair.  The pom-poms can be worn in different places.