As you may well know, I love Mexico City. I can't get enough of the food, people, art and culture. On my last trip here, I stumbled across a small workshop in Colonia Roma guarded outside by some fiberglass devils. I was with my friend, Leslie, and we decided to explore within. We met the ever so amusing Álvaro (a self-described Ghepetto) and the lovely Jazmín. We had discovered Taller Tlamaxcalli.
After several jokes from Álvaro, we learned that they specialized in traditional Mexican toy making. I immediately was interested. Wood toys, alebrijes, cartonería, where would I begin... Masking making in cartonería of course. I signed up for classes and started going to the workshop weekly. Jazmín, was patient with me and my Spanish as she taught me papier mâché making techniques, know as cartonería. I began making a jaguar mask (which you'll get to see when I'm actually finished with it).
One day the white base coat of paint had finished drying on the mask and the task of decorative painting was at hand. As I pulled out my new brushes, Jazmín asked me if I knew how to paint. Do I know how to paint? Canvases, faces, bodies, buildings... I've painted it all. I quickly removed my mobile gallery, also known as my phone, out of my pocket to show her some of my murals in Los Angeles.
She and Álvaro began to swipe thru my photos of my murals and Álvaro asked me when I was going to paint one in front of his shop. Coincidentally, a couple days before while at the coffee shop, I did a doodle of the front of their shop using Jazmín and some of their toys as inspiration. I showed Álvaro and his next question was "When are you going to start?"
After figuring out schedules and budgets, I had to figure out how my sketch fit the actual space on the wall and how to incorporate several of their pre-existing objects they had displayed outside. I couldn't take a full photo of the facade of the building, so I had to stitch several together in Photoshop before starting to block in my sketch on paper.
Just like my mask, the wall required a base coat of white paint. Day one had begun with Álvaro, Jazmín and me rolling on a fresh coat of white paint. The next morning I arrived and I began freehand drawing from my sketch. I forgot my special pencil, so finding the right tool to draw was a bit difficult. After trying some small pencils, chalk and crayons, Jazmín found this great crayon-pencil hybrid which was prefect for the job.
I spent the full second day drawing out the map of the the mural on the wall. On day three the color blocking began. It's more than just fill in the shapes, there's a whole sequence of layering the paint for each object to get the final look with clean edges.
This was my first mural that wasn't done with all aerosol. Since I didn't have any scaffolding or A-frame ladder, I couldn't get fluidity with my arm using aerosol, so I used mostly house paint with touches of aerosol for sharing and highlights.
After 11 days of working of the mural, dozens of cups of coffee and a few tamales later, the mural was complete. I worked with Álvaro to incorporate his three-dimensional elements, including a bird cage, giant skull and a mirror in the apple that reads "¿Te peinaste?".
We celebrated with Tepache, Mezcal, popcorn, friends and a wonderful toast by Álvaro.
Thanks to Leslie, Tanya and everyone who stopped by while I was painting. If you're in Mexico City, stop by Taller Tlamaxcalli and check out my mural and their workshop of traditional, hand-made, Mexican toys. Taller Tlamaxcalli, Colonia Roma, Calle Chihuahua 129, Mexico City.
I made a commemorative print of the devil that is for sale in my shop. Buy it here.