How alebrijes are made?

The first step to craft an alebrije consists in one principle: the selection ofood. Our handcraft artist, mainly work with copal, ayacahuite, fresno and zompantle trees. These trees grow in several areas of our country, mostly in the southern region of Mexico where Oaxaca, Chiapas, Guerrero and Michoacan are located.

The copal tree is the most common raw material use to craft an alebrije.  This source of raw material is flexible and easy handling for this propose.

The artist selects a single part of the tree and “visualizes” the piece. To become an alebrije, the piece of wood most has the singularity that the craftsman/woman are looking for.

In many cases, all the creatures that had dreamed or picture in their nightmares inspire the handcraft artist. All the alebrijes are the product of their imagination, which gives a magical and mystical touch to each creation.

They start by removing the excess of raw material and mold it with a special machete (big knife). Later, with a sharp knife, the craftsman/woman makes precise cuts to give shape to the animal, mask or face that the alebrije will have.

Depending on the piece, handcraft artist use organic resin to fill some spaces to shape it more precisely. When the resin is completely dry, the craftsman/woman sanders the whole piece in order to eliminate any imperfection and soften the piece texture.

Once the piece is completely carved and sanded, it is ready for the painting and coloring process.

To paint the alebrije, all our artisans use organic paintings. Very often they make the paint themselves. They also make brushes of diverse materials, like maguey thorns to delineate the smallest details.

The designs and color selection are inspired by the Oaxacan culture. The painting technique often imitates the textile patterns of the prehispanic cultures, the endemic flora of the region and many times the designs are exclusive creations of each artist.

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