Oaxaca´s Center of Design developed the project “Binomios Creativos: Artesanos + Diseñadores 2013” with the objective of creating Neo-handcraft design products that will generate a positive impact to the handcrafts men of this state. A productive processes with designers based on dialog and new opportunities for a fair business trade.
The project consisted in the creation of different teams integrating 2 designers with experience and a well-developed craft orientation, together with handcrafts men from different communities of this state. With this collaboration and the Oaxaca´s Center of Design support, the out coming products have shaped the values that respond to the market tendencies and actual public demands.
The techniques developed were silver jewelry, bee wax, cotton string textiles and woodcarving. The handcrafts men involved came from different regions of Oaxaca, México. Such as: Oaxaca de Juarez, San Bartolo Coyotepec, Santa Cecilia Jalieza, Santa Cruz Mitlatongo and Teotitlán del Valle. At the same time, the designers came from different parts of México and worked in collaboration with a local designer from Oaxaca.
Oaxaca´s Center of Design has been working as a platform to join the work of designers and handcrafts men from a creative perspective that searches to stimulate creation, with high quality standards and community development.
The artisan/craftsman that I was assigned to work with was Jose Hernández and his wife Petra Mendoza, they are from Teotitlán del Valle and develop traditional bee wax candles at their workshop called “Casa Viviana”. Their skills and knowledge with this handicraft have been passed down for 3 generations. I worked in collaboration with Jesús Nieva García, a local design engineer. Together we developed all these pieces and the research behind it.
One of the main characteristics of this kind of candles is that they are not made with a mold; instead, they gain this shape with a “layer” technique that consists in dropping hot wax over a candlewick. This makes the candle gain thickness depending on the number of layers dropped on it.
Mr. Jose decorates these candles with hand made wax flowers. These flowers are not made with a mold either; they are also developed with a “layer” technique. This process consists in using a plate or jar to make wax sheets that are shaped by hand and after arranged together to make the flowers.
Mr. Jose gave us a challenge, which afterwards became our main goal with this project; he asked us to find out how to make the bee wax maintain its color, hardness, brightness and to make it able to keep the dust away due to the fact that wax tends to get dusty very easily.
We found out that the main consideration for these problems to occur is sun and heat.
After doing research, exploration and experimentation with the material we came to the conclusion of using other materials and processes that will help obtain Mr. Jose´s concerns.
First of all we used a natural additive based on pork´s fat to make the wax harder and more stable; we managed to make it brighter by polishing it with a silk cloth after it got hard and the dust was kept away by applying a thin layer of alcohol on the surface. The color was the most important and amazing result from this exploration because we were able to come out with a great and very extensive amount of color families, this was possible when we added a piece of crayon which is also made of wax.
At the same time we managed to develop new shapes of flowers and redefine the ones Mr. Jose already had. Together with the Oaxaca´s Center of Design, we developed a new manufacture process that took great care of the quality in these candle´s finishing result and also improved the time of making, which helped Mr. Jose to be more productive in his working hours.
A family of colors and its combinations was declared and also the different kind of plates used for the candles.
These candles are 100% handmade. Thanks to the support and collaboration with Oaxaca´s Center of Design these handcrafts men were able to improve their production process and also add value to their pieces.
All these products are now being commercialized, and this will help to change the craftsman’s economic situation and most important;
it helps to keep our traditions going and with the purpose of giving them the respect they deserve.
These products were made during the time “Binomios Creativos: Artesanos + Diseñadores 2013” project took place, developed by Oaxaca´s Center of Design. This is the first public institution in Mexico that promotes Design as a strategic tool for social development improvement.
Photos courtesy of Oaxaca´s Center of Design, Romina Hierro & Kaleb J Cardenas Z 2013.