“In the beautiful community of San Luis Amatlán in the state of Oaxaca, where I have my roots, it is very common to see the creation of traditional tenatitos (handwoven palm baskets) for carrying tlayudas (traditional Oaxacan food) and tortillas. I am Monica Diaz Martines. I was born in Tlanepantla in the state of Mexico. My artisanal roots are found in this magical region of our beautiful country, and it was through my grandmother Justina Perez Garcia that I found my passion for weaving.
“In San Luis Amatlán, it is common to see palm handicrafts used as centerpieces, decoration, and gifts for the guests at celebrations such as quinceañeras, weddings, and baptisms. These beautiful pieces are regularly offered at a low cost. From a young age, I watched my grandmother seated in the sun weaving for many hours. She told me that the palm had a mind of its own and you only had to follow its natural pattern. I really liked to see how she moved her hands and how the palm took its form, just like she told me. When finished, I loved to see the forms that the palm could take.
“As I was learning the process, I quickly discovered that newer plastic goods have been gradually substituting traditional handicrafts. One authentic tenatito takes more than four hours to craft, and preparing the palm takes just as long. A small basket with a lid takes two days to complete, and this fact has helped me understand the enormous potential of this marvelous technique.
“My desire to learn this craft led me to move to San Luis Amatlán, and I began to innovate in the uses for palm, like in jewelry. Creating forms and imagining new ideas in each of my pieces is one of the things that I enjoy the most. The most challenging part of working with palm is that you are constantly moving with it to the point that you can lose yourself. However, it is a fun challenge.
“My sources of inspiration are the nature that surrounds me in this beautiful part of my country, the corn of its delicious tortillas, and the enchantment of the provincial roads. It is very satisfying to be constantly innovating in my own creations, and weaving is a constant physical challenge. I love being part of each one of the processes, from the collection of the palm to the dyeing and the weaving.”