Milagros is thrilled to announce that many of their artists and makers in Mexico work is now in the V&A Museum in collaboration with the Frida Kahlo – Making Her Self Up. The exhibition presents an extraordinary collection of personal artefacts and clothing belonging to the iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Locked away for 50 years after her death, this collection has never before been exhibited outside Mexico. It is on until 4th November 2018.
Friday Kahlo was an avant-garde surrealist and great lover of Mexican folk art and traditions. Yet careful attention to her mother country’s exceptional folk art traditions shows that surrealism is practically imbued in its culture, with angels, devils, skeletons and virgins living comfortably alongside the vernacular of a modern capitalist society. Never having undergone a protestant reformation nor a proletarian revolution, Mexico remains deeply enmeshed in a religious and agrarian imaginary from which it looks slightly askance at the break-neck speed of Western technological society. No matter how fast your internet speed or big your picture hat, underneath we are all skeletons! It is Milagros’s great pleasure to make the connections between Kahlo’s work and the folk art she celebrated more vivid to the V&A’s visitors.
Friends of Milagros – Hola!
We hope you will join us for our upcoming book launch of Francisco Cantú’s book The Line Becomes A River, a New York Times bestseller and recent Book of the Week on Radio 4, on Tuesday 20th March from 6.30pm. The event will take place at our Milagros shop, 61 Columbia Rd, E2.
Tuesday 20th March from 6.30pm. The event will take place at our Milagros shop, 61 Columbia Rd, E2.
The book is an unflinching account of Cantú’s four years spent working as a US Border Patrol agent along the US-Mexican border, from 2008-2012, before quitting amidst a swirl of harrowing experiences and stress related nightmares. There is, however, no need for a swat team of Netflix screenwriters to concoct the almost constant tragedy and acts of mercy that Cantú’s tales of the border record in episodic bursts. As a third generation Mexican migrant, border agent, pursuant and rescuer of desert-parched and fearful migrants the author cuts a controversial figure. The book is part sobering account of this brutal border regime and the lives it devastates, and part self-examination of his role within it. The Line Becomes A River pivots on the enigma of why Cantú chose to commit to the defence of an abstract line drawn by politicians and geometers, yet provides many answers through the profound insights his police work allowed.
‘Stunningly good. Beautiful, smart, raw, sad, poetic and humane… It’s the best thing I’ve read for ages’, James Rebanks, author of THE SHEPHERD’S LIFE
Cantú will read from his book and there will be a short discussion, after which all guests are invited to a Mezcal tasting introduced by the author.
Don’t miss out on the 10% reduction on all our hand-crafted Mexican glassware, ceramics and objet d’art that we’ll be giving away on all in-store sales that day.
Francisco Cantú served as an agent for the United States Border Patrol from 2008 to 2012, working in the deserts of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. A former Fulbright fellow, he is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and a 2017 Whiting Award. His writing and translations have been featured in The Best American Essays, Harper’s, n+1, Orion, and Guernica, as well as on This American Life. He lives in Tucson, Arizona.
Milagros’ Newsletter Spring 2016.
“If we are a metaphor of the universe, the human couple is the metaphor par excellence, the point of intersection of all forces and the seed of all forms. The couple is time recaptured, the return to the time before time.”
Milagros has collaborated with Dandy Star to produce these hand made encaustic tiles. They are now available to buy online. Encaustic Tiles by Dandy Star.
East End Prints Competition.
East End Prints are running a competition looking for the fifty best Frida Kahlo.
Recent Projects. Milagros works with architects and designers.
Fitzrovia, London – Tiles
Soho London – Tiles
Soho House, Royalty House,
Soho, London – Tiles
Kings Cross, London – Tiles
Smithfield & Waterloo
Bespoke Tiles – Nandos, Balham.
The decorations are inspired by the Milagros that adorn the church walls of Mexico. Milagros are the small silver of gold votive offering that come in the shape of body parts, animals, foods, houses and plots of land. Milagros would have traditionally been given to the preferred saint in the hope of a pray answered or to give thanks for a pray answered. Hearts would represent a romantic connection.
The objects are made from tin, a metal that is light, has strength and has similar visual qualities as silver.
In the 1824 Cornish tin miners left England for Mexico to mine the tin. There is one particular town, Pachuca in Mexico where the residents have blue eyes and a passing resemblance to their Cornish ancestors. They introduced the Mexicans to the Cornish pastie, which has since become a delicacy. The miners would have taught their Mexican wives how to make Cornish pasties. Over time the pasta, as is called in Mexico, has been adapted to a Mexican pallet and is now considered a delicacy. The pasties are filled chicken, tuna, beef, sausage, beans and pineapples all served with a salsa. Aside from introducing the Cornish pasty they also introduced football, which has since become a national obsession.
Most Mexican tinwork is now made in the Mexican states of Guanajuato, Jalisco and Oaxaca in small family run workshops. We buy and commission work from one such workshop in Guanajuato and Oaxaca.www.milagros.co.uk/tin/
At the tin makers Mexico.
“Each of us is born with a box of matches inside us but we can’t strike them all by ourselves; we need oxygen and a candle to help. In this case, the oxygen for example, would come from the breath of the person you love; the candle would be any kind of food, music, caress, word, or sound that engenders the explosion that lights one of the matches. For a moment we are dazzled by an intense emotion. A pleasant warmth grows within us, fading slowly as time goes by, until a new explosion comes along to revive it. Each person has to discover what will set off those explosions in order to live, since the combustion that occurs when one of them is ignited is what nourishes the soul. That fire, in short, is its food. If one doesn’t find out in time what will set off these explosions, the box of matches dampens, and not a single match will ever be lighted.”
Laura Esquivel, Like Water for Chocolate
Milagros will be open for Christmas on Saturday 12 to 5pm, Sunday 9am to 6pm and Christmas Wednesdays from 5pm to 9pm ( All Wednesdays in December). We have earring, tin decorations for trees, Mexican hot chocolate, Angels, Saint paintings. Recycled Glassware. We are generally open during the week but to avoid disappoint we ask you to call first.
Under £5 – tin decorations, hot chocolate, decorative tiles,
Under £10 – papel picado, tin decorations, tumblers, wine glasses
Under £15 – vases, earrings, tumblers, wineglasses
Under £30 small niches, vases, mirrors, saint paintings.
Mexican Hot Chocolate.
When Cortes met with Moctezuma in 1519. Chocolate was considered more valuable than gold. Moctezuma was confused by Cortes quest for gold.
Chocolate is made from the bean from the cacao tree. It was originally made into a drink by the Mayans and then adopted by the Aztecs. The chocolate drink tasted sour and strong . The taste was made more palatable by adding chillis, anise seed, all spice and vanilla. These flavours are still used in Mexican Hot Chocolate, the only difference is sugar is now added to sweeten it. The discs used to sell the chocolate in 1500 are still used today.
The cacao bean was used for currency and clay beans have been found. It was associated with power and authority. The chocolate drink was reserved for warriors, religious offerings and given to human sacrifice to purify them.
Milagros will be serving and selling Mexican Hot Chocolate in the Winter Months. £2 per cup and a block of chocolate for £4.50.
The Otomi fabrics were born from economic hardship in the 1960. A severe drought in the state of Hidalgo Mexico, devastated the agriculture . Out of necessity The Otomi drew on the artistic traditions. For centuries the ancestral costume worn by the Otomi women were embroidery using floral and animal designs. There was bold use of positive and negative space in saturated colours. The intensive labour required to make these fabrics was not economically viable. The designs were adapted and created more economically viable. A simple design and style was adapted.
The motifs that appear on the Otomi fabrics were believed to be inspired by ancient wall paintings. The depiction of plants and animals and natural forces are similar to the design found on amate paper. These were created by by the Otomi Shamans for thousands years.
As the fabrics have evolved the subject matter has become more diverse. They reflect the history of everyday life of the embroideries evoking a spirit of magical realism and merging the real and mythical.
Milagros sells a range of Otomi Fabrics.
Milagros stocks all your Day of the Dead needs. From papel picado, ceramic skeletons, tin skeletons, tin skeleton mermaids, skeleton dancers, paper maiche devils and sequinned skulls.
“The Mexican … is familiar with death, jokes about it, caresses it, sleeps with it, celebrates it. True, there is as much fear in his attitude as in that of others, but at least death is not hidden away: he looks at it face to face, with impatience, disdain or irony.””
Octavio Paz from the Labyrinth of Solitude
Newsletter July 2015
“How to describe that slow Mexican winter, so leisured in unfolding, so brief in passage, that was a radiant summer? How to record the long lull, the safe sequence, the seamless span of equal days…”
Sybille Bedford from A Visit To Don Octavio.
We have brought winter from Mexico in time for our English Summer ship. In our cargo of Mexican sunshine, we also have….
Bright glassware in reds, yellows and turquoise. Our brightly coloured recycled glassware is made in a family-run workshops using Pepsi bottles and other discarded glass that is at the end of its reusable life. The glass is melted down and then blown. Each piece is uniquely shaped by hand and eye using techniques that date back thousands of years. The trace of the maker is captured as the glass solidifies; small ripples and optical distortions are an integral part of the glassware. Each piece is born from chance material and skill and is a marriage between hand and eye. The glassware is bold and exuberant and produced in an abundance of colours and combinations redolent of Mexico – turquoise and red, purple and red, turquoise and yellow, olive, plum, red and clear. Our glassware includes jugs, wine glasses, bowls, vases and tumblers.
Cement Encaustic Floor Tiles have been made in Mexico for centuries. Every small town has at least one maker if not several. However in recent years these “Mosaicos Hidraulicos” have been superceded by cheap porcelain and the craft is in danger of dying out in Mexico. Milagros has recently started working with a small family run workshop who have been making these tiles for generations. We are now holding stock of 16 colours and are taking commissions for patterned ones. These cement encaustics are individually hand made. First a coloured slurry is poured into the mold, which gives the tiles a 5mm deep coloured surface. Then a volcanic aggregate of concrete dry mix is spread on the back before the tile is formed with 25 tons of pressure. the combination of making process and materials produces a range of soft subtle colours which give hard waring, slightly shimmering surface when laid. The father of the family has been making these tiles for almost 60 years. He followed his father and grandfather into the business.
The paper cuts are a synthesis of European, Asian and Mexican artist traditions. Paper making and cutting found its way from China to the Middle East and was then brought to the Iberian Peninsula by the Moors. The Mayans in Mexico had a parallel culture of paper making to the Chinese. It was oppressed by the Spanish due to is spiritual connections. The papel picado is a continuation of this tradition.
For all those, like myself who constantly chase order but all too often it evades capture. These baskets will give you a head start. The baskets are hand made in Mexico in five different sizes, large and small laundry baskets, ironing baskets, storage baskets and paper baskets. The colour combinations are numerous.
Hand made, the paper streamers work well both indoors and outdoors. Adding a joyous touch to all occasions. Milagros has been working on several exciting projects. These include Pizza Union, Chilangos, Soho House and Wahaca. Our hand made products from Mexico enhancing contemporary designed building and restaurants.
Rodolfo Morales (May 8th 1925 – January 30 2001)
Is an artist from Mexico. He lived in a small town called Octalan in the state of Oaxaca. It was from village life that he drew his inspiration. His paintings portray village life- the predictability, its closed, its monotony, its sadness, its happiness, its silences, its festivals, The village square is often the focal point for his paintings. The characters in his paintings are often the women of the village. They sing, chant, pray, wed, float and make music drink and eating, ride bicycles. The characters are serene, joyful, peaceful and full of pathos. The colours are intense reflecting the light of Southern Mexico.
Press Release – 5th May 2015
Saltillo hand made floor tiles.
Milagros imports hand made Saltillo Floor Tiles. Saltillo Tiles compliment our range of hand made Mexican wall tiles. We currently hold stock of three different sizes of Saltillo tiles 22 cm sq., 30cm sq. and 40 cm sq.
Saltillo floor tiles are made from unsealed terracotta (fired clay in a red or brown colour). The tiles are hand made in Saltillo in Northern Mexico from local clay and the same method of production for 400 years. The tiles are dried in the sun and then heated in a clay kiln for 36 hours and then cooled for 36 hours. The clay has a unique natural blend of minerals, which makes it exceptionally tough. The tiles are fired in specially built clay kilns. The hand made manufacturing process and the unique composition of the clay lends variations of shape, surface, contours and size to the tiles. The tiles are hues of yellows, oranges and reds. The colour of the tiles is dependent upon where the tiles are stack in the kiln. Once laid and sealed the Saltillo tiles lend a room an earthy look, the soft yellow, pink and red tones adding warmth to a kitchen, bathroom or dining room or outdoor space. The tiles don’t harbor dust making them a good choice for anyone with allergies. They can be cleaned with a wet mop. The hand made floor tiles look beautiful in both contemporary and traditional settings. Keeping with tradition with an old home and breaking the clean lines and adding variation within a modern home.
Milagros works directly with a few small workshops, in Mexico, and imports handmade Mexican wall tiles and floor tiles. We have worked with a number of designers and architects. Recent commissions include.
Jamie’s Italian in Islington and Moscow,
Las Iguanas in Westfield Stratford,
Union Jacks in Covent Garden
Lupita East in Liverpool Street.
Chilangos in Camden and Leather Lane.
The invention of paper in 105AD in China fulfilled a human need for expression and communication. Stone, animal skin and leather were used prior to paper production. However paper provided a lightweight and flexible alternative. It can be procured more easily than animal skins, transported more effectively than stone. The testament to its success is that nearly 2000 years after its invention it is still in use today despite modern technologies.
For the first five hundred years paper was a precious and expensive commodity. The Chinese Monks took the paper to Japan in 600 AD. Where paper was make from the Mulberry Tree. Its use became more ubiquitous. It was subsequently used for decorations.
In parallel development in Mesoamerica, the Mayans in 600AD invented paper. It was made from the bark from the Finca Tree. It is called Amate. For nearly 900 years, until the Spanish conquest the bark was used for record keeping, decoration during religious ceremonies and rituals. The Mayans paper making skills spread throughout Mexico. Before the Spanish invasion, there were 40 villages making paper. The paper was demanded as tribute (a kind of tax) from the Aztecs. The Aztecs wrote books called Codices. The codices were accordion like in their structure. They were mostly destroyed during the conquest however 5 remain. It was also used as gifts on royal occasions and rewards for warriors and for rituals.
The Mayans propagated the use of paper through southern Mexico to Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador.
After the Spanish Conquest because of the religious and magical use of the Amate paper it was banned in Mexico. Only used if the preferred European paper was in short supply.
The production of Amate was never quite outlawed and it continues to be produced in the remote mountains of the State of Veracruz and Puebla. The paper was invested with magical qualities. In the 1900 the production of the paper drew the attention of academics. The Otomi people became aware of the commercial opportunities of the Amate paper. The Amate paper is often used for colourful painting depicting life in Mexico. The paper decorations that are seen throughout Mexico origins go back in the bark paper that was made 1400 years ago in Southern Mexico.
Milagros is a Mexican shop on Columbia Road’s famous flower market
+44 (0) 207 613 0876