Oaxaca is a city which is jam packed with art, artists and artisans. On nearly every block you’ll find a workshop or gallery, and every Friday night sees a new exhibition opening in a gallery somewhere in the centre. Artists flock here to draw inspiration from the colours of the city, and of course, to marvel in that magical “Oaxacan light.”
We can hardly say we’ve lived in Oaxaca if we haven’t taken an art course of some sort. Having tried (and failed) to sign up for a graphic art course a few weeks ago, it felt like our time was running out.
But then, along came Pedro! How I met Pedro is a little convoluted (and not really that exciting), but one morning I found myself in his studio, where he makes incredible beaded jewellery and various other pieces all by loom. After spending a lot of time admiring his pieces whilst he fixed a friend’s bracelet, he offered us the opportunity to take a beading class. Naturally, we jumped at his offer and decided to take a course the following Wednesday.
We turned up on a Wednesday afternoon and were welcomed to his studio, and one of his students, Alejandra (who now creates the most incredible pieces herself). We were asked whether we wanted to make a bracelet of would prefer to create a design on a stone. On a stone you can create a design that uses the same concept as a mandala, or as they call it here nierika (a window of vision). We all opted to make a bracelet. Once decided we were shown the looms and how to thread them. After looking at his bracelets we all had a design in mind and chose our colours from his HUGE collection of glass beads.
The beads he uses are from the Czech Republic, a preference of Pedro’s due to the consistently good quality. He also uses tiny and beautiful beads all the way from Japan. Pedro explained his unique style of beading on a loom, and talked us through why he chooses each element of the bracelet, ensuring that each piece he makes is exceptional in quality. And they have to be, as Pedro mostly sells his pieces on Etsy, sending them all around the world!
After being shown how to get started, and talked through the pattern process we were soon sat in silence, concentrating SO hard on our masterpieces. As we started to get into the flow of things, we soon started learning all about Pedro’s fascinating life. Whilst he won’t describe himself as a hippy (as he says he doesn’t know what this means anymore), he certainly falls into that category. Or perhaps I just prefer to think of him as a free spirit.
Either way, his colourful life and exciting adventures are reflected in his masterpieces and his stories will keep you entertained for hours whilst you sit and bead. Pedro fell in love with beads when he decided to come back to Mexico and earn his living through his hands (having been living and working in the US for quite some time). He never wanted a boss, or employees, and he just wanted to get by doing the thing he loved.
Not only will Pedro tell you about his life, he will tell you about the history of loom beading. How the beads were bought to the Americas by Europeans, who traded beads upon arrival with Native Americans. The more questions you ask, the more you’ll find out about this fascinating practice.
Pedro and Alejandra are now planning what they refer to as “the hippy tour,” where they will travel Mexico and hopefully Central America, selling their pieces to fund their journey.
We enjoyed our first class so much we all immediately signed up for another, and if I had more time, I’d definitely become a regular visitor at Pedro’s studio. It’s a surprisingly therapeutic way to spend an afternoon. I even compared it to getting my first tattoo…. As soon as I left the studio I was already planning my next design. Pedro’s love for beading and looms is infectious and is a huge contributing factor to how enjoyable the classes are.
Here’s a link to Pedro’s Etsy page. Take a look at his amazing pieces. And below are some more photo’s from our classes.