Returning from a trip to Yucatán with a handcraft or souvenir is a must. Additionally, many of us locals love to decorate our homes with artisanal creations, give them as gifts, and even include handmade garments, accessories, and jewelry in our wardrobes.
We know that certain objects are determined handcrafts…but does the quality correspond to the price? Is it made by an artisan or is it an industrialized product? By nature, handmade pieces require more skill and time, compared to a mass-produced object made with the help of machines.
So, are there any tricks to help distinguish the real deal? No, but there are recommendations that you can take with you when making your purchase. First, go to an establishment with prices on display. There you will find more professional salespeople, some of them may be artisans themselves. They will be able to guide you. But here we share the most important traits of some of the handcrafts you can find during your travels around Yucatán.
More than just a technique to make jewelry, rosaries, and figurines; filigree is an artform. Each piece is molded by hand in either silver or gold. First, the metal is melted down and formed into fine threads, then two of these threads are twisted together to create a delicate rope. Finally, the sides are smoothed and pressed together gently with a small piece of wood to create shapes.
Filigree should not look coarse, nor should it omit the texture at the top edges. Although you can find small pendants for around $250 pesos (Taller Maya), earrings and rings usually run between $450 pesos and $2,000 pesos; more elaborate pieces can go up to $8,000 pesos. As a general observation, there’s gold and silver filigree, the former being more expensive.
Find your next piece at Casa de las Artesanías, Taller Maya, or Amandina.
Every self-respecting Yucatecan knows how to sleep in a hammock; or at least that’s what they say around here. The hamaca, or hammock, is a popular handcraft and though it may seem strange, it’s not from Yucatán originally. But we did happily embrace it. Traditionally, hamacas are made with opaque cotton threads that give them their distinctive breathability and freshness.
When selecting a hammock, you need to be very careful with the thickness of the strand and the separation of the net; the thicker the cotton thread and the tighter the weave, the more resistant your hammock will be. A traditional cotton hammock can cost between $800 and $3,000 pesos in stores, depending on the size (twin or jumbo). Another variant of cotton hammocks are crochet hammocks, which are more expensive because they are softer and have even thicker threads; these are often between $2,500 and $4,000 pesos.
How do you tell apart a cotton hammock from one made of nylon? You need only to look at the thread; pay close attention to its texture and see if it has the characteristic shine of synthetic fiber. Nylon hammocks should not cost more than $1,000 pesos.
Some stores where you can find unique and beautiful pieces: Cielo Hamacas, Úumbah, Taller Maya, and Casa de las Artesanías. You will also find stores in Tixkokob, such as Hamacas Mezeta (they do home deliveries to Mérida).
If you are wondering about the hammock sellers on the street, let me tell you that although they may not have the best reputation, you may be in for a couple of surprises. Always remember to check the quality of the thread (if it is cotton or nylon), how open the weave is (the tighter, the better), and the size of the hammock (how many people will it fit?). The key is to know what to look for and check the craftsmanship!
Editorial by Olivia Camarena
Yucatecan communicologist. Your favorite Assistant Editor. Writer, blogger, and bookstagrammer in her spare time. She also experiments with TikTok.
Casa de las Artesanías
Calle 63 x 64 y 66, Centro
(next to Monjas Church)
FB: Casa de las Artesanías del Estado de Yucatán
Tues. – Sat. 10 am – 5 pm, Sun. 10 am – 2 pm
Calle 65 #510 Loc. 2 x 62 y 64, Centro
Cel. (999) 949 4109
IG: Cielo Hammocks
Mon. – Sat. 9 am – 7 pm
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