Two of the crafts we were keen to buy in Oaxaca were rugs and the carved wooden animals called alebrijes. One of the villages that is known for woodcarving is San Martin Tilcajete. I had seen work by Jacobo and Maria Angeles at La Sirena in the East Village, so when our guide suggested we visit their studio, we readily agreed.
Jacobo met us at the gate and showed us around the family compound where the men worked with machetes and smaller knives carving the wood blocks into animal shapes, and the women and young men worked on painting the intricate designs. Then he showed us how he mixed the natural colors from bugs and vegetable matter -- much the same way we saw the weavers mix them in Teotitlan del Valle. We were so delighted we ordered a cat in honor of Schmucky, chose the colors we wanted and then waited. He suggested it would take a couple of months to carve, paint and dry our alebrije, so we expected it just after Labor Day.
It arrived around Thanksgiving. You can judge for yourself if it was worth the wait. We love it and placed it on the mantel next to some other pieces of Mexican folk art I've acquired over the years.