The ArtisTS

Viviana Alavéz Hipólito
Sofía Ruíz Lorenzo

Wax candles are used for a variety of religious and other celebrations such as weddings, confirmations and quinceaños, the equivalent of Sweet Sixteens that take place when a Mexican girl reaches 15 years of age. Fine candle makers create graceful, elaborate configurations incorporating natural elements such as flowers and birds in a wide array of sizes and palettes. The colors range from subtle to brilliant, sometimes accented with flowers of paper and tinsel. The great majority of candles are made in Teotitlán del Valle, a pueblo also known for rugs and wall hangings.  The creation of ceremonial candles that are placed before altars is in keeping with the pueblo’s persistent religious and cultural Zapotec influence. This influence is apparent as well in the older generation’s traditional dress, its residents’ familiarity with the Zapotec language, and the bilingualism of many of its younger citizens.

Viviana Alavéz Hipólito

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Friends of Oaxacan Folk Art — Candles #2.jpg

Pueblo of Teotitlán del Valle
Abasolo #7

(From US): Landline: 011-52-951-524-4309
(In Oaxaca) Landline: 524-4309

An elegant and friendly woman, Viviana creates delicately elaborated candles with a velvet touch.  Her sons José and Roman, and daughters-in-law Petra and Guillermina, work closely with her.  Assemblages of glorious flowers such as roses and alcatrazes (calla lilies), fruit such as apples, pomegranates and limes, and birds envelop the refined slender candles she creates entirely by hand.  They range in size from table decorations to meter-high structures for use in religious processions. Colors may be single- or multi-tone. The flower making process occurs by hand. The bottom half of a small jug is momentarily dipped into a pot of hot melted wax, then immediately immersed in a pot of cold water.  The resulting thin wax slab is carefully removed from the jug. This piece is cut with a scissor to form the beginnings of petals that are then shaped by hand. One layer is placed inside another to replicate the configuration of a flower.  

Sofía Ruíz Lorenzo

Friends of Oaxacan Folk Art — Candles #3.jpeg
Friends of Oaxacan Folk Art — Candles #4.jpg

Pueblo of Teotitlán del Valle
Belizario Dominquez #7

(From US) Landline: 011-52-951-524-4199
(In Oaxaca) Landline: 524-4199

Sofía’s candle making repertoire ranges from extremely ornate designs to works that are simple and elegant.  She lives at the top of a hill in Teotitlán del Valle. Her ornate candle surrounded by sunflowers can take up to three months to make, from start to finish.  Two hundred and twenty individual pourings over the wick are necessary to make her largest size candles. Sofía paints with cochineal, a natural insect-based dye, and she emphasizes the use of non-toxic materials. This is an important consideration both for the environment and for the artist. When candles are completed, the artist licks them to enhance their sheen.