Category Archives: Mexico

Painted Tin Nativity

This bright and colorful nativity is made in painted tin. Unlike many of the typical tin nativities each one of the 10 shiny figurines stands on its own without a support piece in the back. The set of brightly colored figurines include

Hojalata  or tin art work is undoubtedly one of the least known, most versatile, and most beautiful expressions of Mexican folk art is. Since the 1500’s, this humble metal has been made more pleasing by being shaped, stamped, punched, painted and cut into a wide variety of decorative and functional artwork. These days, Mexican artisans use natural, oxidized and brightly lacquered tin to create ornaments, mirrors, lanterns and other decorative pieces such as this nacimiento. 

Barro Betus Nacimiento

This Nativity from Tonala in Jalisco, Mexico was created by the Ortega family. This family has a long tradition of creating whimsical figures and scenes known as “Barro Betus.” They also use this tradition when depicting this nativity. Characteristic of this tradition is the depiction of the Magi riding an elephant, a horse and a dromedary. The bright colors are not only used for the clothing of the human figures but also for the animals. The horns of the lamb, e.g. are painted in the colors of Mexico. The technique used is know as Tonala after the city where it was developed centuries ago.

The ceramic production in Tonala is also known as the authentic mestizo ceramic. The tradition of burnished clay comes from the Tonalteca group, which used clay to produce polished forms.

The bright hues used for burnishing the objects originated from the powdered colorful clay found in Mexican soil. During colonial times, the production of pottery incorporated decoration techniques such as colorful lacquer brought by the Augustinian missionaries in the 17th century.

Today, the artisans of the Valley of Tonalá such as the Ortega family still use the burnishing techniques of their pre-Hispanic ancestors, fused with colonial styles that resulted in sophisticated ceramics that became an important part of Mexico’s artistic traditions.

“Awestruck” Nativity

This charming nativity by Alicia Urdaneta is made of papier mache, Mary, Joseph, and a holy angel gather around baby Jesus in a manger. Hand-painted designs accentuate each piece. The tallest figure is 7.25″ H x 3.9″ W x 2.8″ D, The smallest figure is 3.1″ H x 1″ W x 1″ D.

Alicia Urdaneta is originally from Caracas, Venezuela. She currently lives in Mexico where she works with 20 families of artisans.

Santiago Nativity

This is a charming nativity set was carved and painted by Alberto Perez in La Union, Oaxaca. This is a unique and lovely piece of Mexican folk art. The wood that was used is copal which is native to Oaxaca. Alberto uses a machete to do the carving. The aniline paint colors are bright and well coordinated. The carving is elegantly simple and the painting, bright and colorful. There are 10 pieces.

Colorful Clay Nativity

This colorful, vibrant nativity though from Mexico has a Southwestern flair. The vibrant, hand-painted hues on the clay figures and the wide eyed expressions on the faces create a very joyful scene.