6 things to know about Otomi embroidery

Traditional Mexican embroidery feels whimsical and modern
Otomi lamp
This Otomi lamp by Jane Gray for Stray Dog Designs ($750) is handcrafted in Mexico.

Courtesy of Stray Dog Designs

Could Otomi become the next ikat? Although it’s unlikely that the fanciful Mexican prints could grow as popular as the versatile geometric patterns, last fall Vogue suggested Otomi might be the “next textile trend to watch.” For thousands of years Mexicans have created colorful textiles, which originally identified the maker’s village or ethnic group. Otomi embroidery became popular in the 1960s, when a severe drought forced farmers to find new sources of income.

  • The Otomi people live in the Sierra Madre Oriental mountains in the central state of Hidalgo.
  • Legend has it that the prints’ figures, birds, and animals were inspired by nearby cave drawings.
  • The juxtaposition of negative and positive space makes the patterns appear graphic and modern, especially in monochromatic versions.
  • Native artists draw all flora and fauna by hand, never using stencils. The typical menagerie includes animals like armadillos, roosters, squirrels, and deer.
  • Sources for authentic Otomi embroidery include Stray Dog Designs (pictured), the Mexican Textile Museum Store, and Olli, a San Francisco craft company.
  • Otomi-inspired prints are now showing up at mass retailers like Target.

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.