Maria Luisa comes from a family of four generations of weavers. She and her husband José Luis have two sons, the younger one in high school and the older one an accounting student at the University of Oaxaca.
Though Maria Luisa enjoys every part of the weaving process, it’s combining colors that really makes her artistic heart sing and her purses are studies in subtle and complementary color-blocking and traditional patterns.
José Luis didn’t begin to weave until he married Maria Luisa more than 20 years ago. One of 11 children in a farming family, he had learned to sew when he was a student in Veracruz. He does the stitching and leather finish work for Maria Luisa’s purses, with near-perfect seams and detailing. A heavy-duty sewing machine with industrial needles handles the heavy leather, but it’s his precision and eagle eye for detail that are the icing on the cake to his wife’s beautiful purses.
The family lives in Tlacochahuaya, a small town just a few miles away from Teotitlán del Valle, where most of the other Manos Zapotecas weavers live. The shop inside of their home is spotlessly clean and arranged with an eye for beauty, with purses hanging from a wooden rack and rugs, cosmetic bags, pillow covers and coin purses lined up neatly on tables.
“This work is very pleasing,” said Maria Luisa, “You weave practically your life into it. Each piece is just that, a stage … a piece of your life.”