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"When I was seven, my mother began teaching me our traditional art… She learned the craft from her own mother and, in this way, our craft legacy has been handed down…."
"I was born in 1947 in the Nahua community of Olinalá, a town in the sierra of Guerrero. When I was seven years old, my mother began teaching me our traditional art of lacquered wood. She learned the craft from her own mother and, in this way, our craft legacy has been handed down from generation to generation. They have been careful to preserve this knowledge that dates from pre-Hispanic days. Even today, we work with these same techniques to create our traditional designs."
Her constant practice over all these years has permitted Doña Adelina to perfect her skills. She crafts a variety of designs, from small boxes to coffers, trunks, screens, plates and trays, miniatures, decorative pieces and traditional masks.
She has been awarded the prestigious Premio Nacional de Artesanía on three occasions and has won many other prizes. Aficionados of Olinalá art hold her work in great esteem.
Creating a work of Olinalá art is a long and meticulous process. First linaloe wood is cut to the desired shape and sanded. Dried gourds may also be used. The black background is painted with a solution made from oak tree ashes ground with tolte stone and linseed oil. It takes the piece up to 15 days to dry, then it's ready to paint.
Tecoxtle and tesicatle stones are also used, first ground and blended with chia seed oil, garlic and mineral pigments to make the colors more resistant and shiny. The patterns are etched into the wood with huizache thorns.
Olinalá lacquerware features three distinct styles, dorado or golden, rayado (etched), and punteado, a pointillist technique. Each has its own characteristic procedures, yet the materials are essentially the same.
Once the piece is painted, it is polished and the surface smoothed with a solution made from linseed oil, tolte and charcoal. It takes the finished piece another three or four days to dry.
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