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WAX HEADPIECES AND FINDING JOY IN CREATING THROUGH HERITAGE

Posted by Sandra Morales on

Above our new Alondra adornments, made with wax by artisans in Mexico. Worn by Nicole, hair art by Mariana, Make Up by Adrian, photo by Salvador. 
One of my earliest memories of truest creativity, happens at my grandmother Olivia's house. To be closer to her sons, daughters and their families, she had recently moved from her hometown Sabinas to Saltillo, the state capital where I grew up. She closed her studio, which once had given jobs to 50 women making the most intricate dresses for weddings and debutante balls in Northern Mexico.  The biggest room in the new house was designated as her workroom where she kept her most precious fabrics and materials she had collected during years of sourcing and travelling. Needless to say, this was of my childhood happy places. 
Above, my grandmother Olivia in her wedding day wearing a dress, headpiece and veil made by her.
My sisters and I would spend hours dressing up body forms with anything we could find in the room. From draping fabrics and laces to attaching crystals and buttons. The frontal always dazzling and pretty while the back was a pins and knots masquerade. 
Nicole wearing our new Camila headpiece and a dress Olivia made for my mom to her sister wedding. Hair art by Mariana, Make Up by Adrian, photo by Salvador. 
Years later my mom opened a bridal shop that then became the family business. I was 11 years old and my everyday life involved doing homework in an all mirror walls dressing room and inviting friends over to playdates at the shop, playing hide and seek between beautiful wedding dresses. But my favourite products were the accessories. There was something magical about the idea of choosing a meaningless cluster of materials, manipulating it with your hands only, and make it a piece of adornment someone would like to use in what would be one of the most cherished life memories. Naturally, my most cherished material: Wax. 
Beautiful bride from  Huazolotitlan, Oaxaca is wearing an embroidered wedding huipil and a wax flower crown. Photo By Irmgard W. Johnson, 1968
Fast forward 15 years later, I opened my own bridal accessories shop in Mexico, where half of the items we sold, were designed and handmade by me. At the time, brides were into feathers and crystals and wax pieces were outdated. The only places you could find them were vintage shops and they were very old, which was beautiful on its own, but there was no way of going for modern while wearing wax, period. I started to learn more about the material and its origins. I learnt that one of my suppliers worked with a wax artisan so I ordered some and started designing my first samples. 
Nicole wearing our new Carlota headpiece. Hair art by Mariana, Make Up by Adrian, photo by Salvador. 
I've lived in Canada for 9 years now, in between spending a couple in London and earlier living in Barcelona for a year. I know very well the beauty and struggles of building a life away from home. And from this perspective, I found the curiosity that only distance can provide. When I'm creating at my truest, I naturally go where my heart takes me and while I mourn the fact that I have no idea when I'll be able to hug my family again, creating through my heritage gently reminds me that no matter where I go, home lengthens beyond. 

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