Spread the LOVE. . .

Spread the LOVE. . .
with gifts from the artisan's soul

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Aesthetyx 'La Tiendita' at The Grove Opening!

For those of you who made it to the Grand Opening of our 'Tiendita' (mini-store) at The Grove in South Park during their first 'South Park Walkabout' of the year on March 29th - Mil Gracias! It was a fun-filled evening that flew by! We prepared one of my new Sangria recipes 'Primavera Sangria' which is a white-wine based Sangria mixed with Italian Grapefruit soda, blood oranges, peaches, grapes, and more! It was well received by the guests who attended the event.

Special thanks to Farra and Agnes from Mano Imports who helped us serve Sangria and entertain guests. Farra and Agnes bring in amazing textiles and wood work from Guatemala and we are thrilled to showcase some of their treasures in our new space at The Grove. We also really enjoy their company as they love Latin-American culture and artisan work as well as great food and wine as much as we do - Gracias Amigas!

We are excited to be celebrating our new space at The Grove in South Park. We have been at The Grove now for 2 years but recently moved our location which we feel much more at home in. Please come by and visit us if you have not already done so. The Grove is located at the corner of Juniper & 30th Street in South Park, an eclectic and great neighborhood in San Diego. The Grove is open Tuesdays - Sundays 11am-6pm, closed on Mondays. We hope to bump into you down there sometime soon.

P.S. There is a fabulous new Gourmet Mexican Restaurant 'El Camino' that will be opening just across the street from The Grove soon - we can't wait. We will be hosting monthly events in San Diego and we hope to have a few at El Camino once they open. Look out for info in our monthly 'eNews and eVents' e-mail blast.

Returning to SMA (San Miguel de Allende)

What can we say about San Miguel other than we absolutely love coming back and look forward each and every time to walking down the cobblestone streets gazing at the gorgeous distressed hues of colors of the walls, discovering the 'Doors of San Miguel', going to the Mercado and buying the roasted corn and 'pan' (bread) made fresh every day, relaxing on a bench in The Jardin, visiting our artisans talleres (workshops), having cocktails on a rooftop, enjoying creative Mexican cuisine, watching all of the locals enjoy an evening in The Jardin with their families, and SO much more!!!!

We are currently working on putting one of our 'Aesthetyx Experience' trips together for San Miguel de Allende and as soon as we confirm the dates and itinerary we will post on our blog. If you are interested in any of our upcoming trip itineraries please send an e-mail to judy@aesthetyx.com.

Viva San Miguel!

Meet San Miguel Master Tinsmith Cecilio Hernandez 'Chilo'

One of the first artisans whose work we began importing 4 years ago is master tinsmith Cecilio Hernandez (fondly known as 'Chilo' to locals, clients, friends, and family). Chilo owns a small tienda in San Miguel where anyone can visit and buy his lovely designs. We came across these designs on one of our first trips to San Miguel over 6 years ago and fell in love with them. His designs are so original, beautifully hand-crafted and exquisitely hand-painted. Chilo has a team of artisans and tinsmiths who work for him who are the best of the best in San Miguel. Chilo's attention to detail and meticulous nature is evident in his sought after work. Chilo is a local celebrity of sorts who is commissioned by many local homeowners (including many Americans) to design grand mirrors and decorative tin for their grande haciendas in San Miguel. Chilo was recently awarded the honor of the Best Tinsmith in the State of Guanajuato with an intricately hand-cut gold mirror which we were fortunate enough to see on our recent trip to his taller.

On our recent trip we were able to take our friends with us to tour his taller (workshop) and see how his one of a kind creations are made. We began at his tienda where a small fraction of his work available for sale, most of his designs are custom and require being special ordered. Above the tienda is where his extremely talented artisans who specialize in painting work. Jose being in charge of this portion of the business takes great pride in his and his fellow artisans' work. Jose is one of the only artisans who works for Chilo who speaks English so he led our group up the cramped stairway where larger than life examples of Chilo's fine design and craftmanship reside, including the now famous gold mirror that won him the award as Guanajuato's Best Tinsmith. As you reach the top Jose escorts us out onto the terrace where he explained the entire painting process to all of us in great detail. The process is very time consuming and labor intensive but once you see their finished piece there is no question that they produce a high quality product very worthy of the prices they charge. Actually after learning about all of the artistry that goes into every single painted piece everyone in the group had a greater appreciation for their 'artesania'.

After the painting taller we all were caravaned in 3 cars that took us to the main taller where they cut, craft, and weld the tin into the mirrors, headboards, and other decor. This taller is also Chilo's personal 'casa' and a museum of sorts. Every nook and cranny of his house is filled with his award-winning work. As soon as you drive into his carport/front door area you are greated by massive scale mirrors displayed on the stone of the exterior of his home, some mirrors are probably over 10 feet high and perhaps 6-8 feet wide. As you enter his home you find his love for his 'rosas' designs everywhere. His dining room wall is embellished with a 'Marco de Rosas' mirror probabaly 8 feet wide and then bookended by 2 large floor lamps all made from the 'rosas. His bedroom is the 'piece de resistance' with a magnificent natural colored (silver) headboard all hand cut in the most intricate design perched against a cobalt blue painted wall- it was jaw dropping!

After the home tour he escorted all of us upstairs to the taller where his tinsmiths and craftsmen work at oversized tables with sheets of tin penciling out designs that are to be cut and punched. Chilo took time to demonstrate how each one of the 'rosas' are made which he is currently so fond of. Chilo took a sheet of tin and hand drew with a sharpie the shape of petals then hand cut and did this 5-6 times and then punched through the center and utilized several metal tools to make just 1 rosa! Some of his 'Marco de rosas' mirrors contain hundreds so there is no surprise that these mirrors are expensive due to the intense hand-crafting each mirror takes. We were also treated to a demonstration of how they 'oxidize' the tin to make it look 'viejo' aged - they literally will dip the tin in a batch of 'acido' (acid) and keep it out in the sun to achieve this look.

After an amazing demonstration at the taller we headed back to the tienda where Chilo charmed everyone by signing each of the pieces they bought, and not with a black sharpie as I assumed he would - he literally hand-tooled a piece of tin for each person and wrote their name and did a unique design for each one with his own signature - quite a special treat. Now that's a great example of the Mexican artisan pride and hospitality we love so much!

Good Friday and Easter Celebrations San Miguel Style

San Miguel is famous for it's celebrations and parades, especially those celebrating religious holidays. On our recent trip this March we arrived towards the end of 'Semana Santa' (Holy Week) on Good Friday. Since we caught a red-eye and arrived in town early in the AM we were able to grab a great seat in The Jardin (the main center in San Miguel across from The Parrochia) before the crowds started forming to see the Good Friday Procession. The procession which was supposed to begin at 11am starting on typical 'Mexican time' around 1pm. Needless to say we waited awhile and the sun started getting stronger and warmer. We were fortunate enough to meet our group of friends who were in town for their daughter's wedding which was being held the next day so we all gathered in the square before the festivities and enjoyed a great view once they began. It is a very solemn day in San Miguel and the procession begins on the side of the Parrochia and goes around the entire square. We watched an amazing parade of locals who carried grand figures of all of the Virgins including a beautiful Mary dressed in blue velvet, and an amazing figure of Jesus (shown here in our photos). They also perform a short reenactment of Pontius Pilate and local men are dressed as Roman Soldiers as they stomp through the square in an almost ominous fashion. It was an amazing procession to watch on a glorious sunny and warm day in San Miguel.