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three-hundred and one

Caitlin Garcia-Ahern, Oaxaca, Mexico

Cailtin is the founder of Thread Caravan, a project which hosts cultural art workshops. With a background in artistic design, sociology and education, her love for travel and community has led her to collaborate with like-minded individuals in cities around the world. In Thread Caravan workshops, travellers are able to learn about traditional craft production in the communities where they originated, having been practiced their for generations.

“I moved to Oaxaca, and this home specifically, in January 2019. I spent the prior year and a half before that living in Mexico City. Last year, my work with Thread Caravan grew to a point that I was travelling to Oaxaca for at least a week each month, and having to reject work possibilities due to the time I was spending in Mexico City. For this and many other reasons, it made sense to make the move.I found the home via Root Studio, a group of architects whose work I’d been admiring in Oaxaca. They normally build homes and other structures for specific clients, so finding this home available for rent was a unique exception that I didn’t want to pass up.”

“Most of the changes I’ve made have been in the garden. When I first moved in, there was just a single Frambuyan tree which had no leaves at the time. The tree is now much more happy and I’ve added more plants: a special heirloom cotton plant, papaya, banana, ceiba, maiz, chilacayota, herbs and more. Most recently, I put in a custom outdoor shower that I’m really enjoying making use of. The valley of Oaxaca is desertous and water is a precious resource, so I’m always collecting grey shower water to give to my plants. Having a shower in the garden allows me to skip the step of lugging buckets of grey water outside, and it feels amazing to bathe with the plants.”

Most recently, I put in a custom outdoor shower that I’m really enjoying making use of. The valley of Oaxaca is desertous and water is a precious resource, so I’m always collecting grey shower water to give to my plants. Having a shower in the garden allows me to skip the step of lugging buckets of grey water outside, and it feels amazing to bathe with the plants.

“Although the space already feels like home, there are still some adjustments I’d like to make. Specifically: adding a shelf in the kitchen to display my pottery collection (that’s happening this week), adding a loom, desk space and expanding storage in the textile studio, and expanding the garden space into the neighbouring yard owned by the same landlord.”

“I started Thread Caravan 5 years ago as a way to bring more awareness and appreciation to handmade craft processes, and to create a network for artisans to share the work they do. Before starting Thread Caravan, I worked with two fairtrade companies. In both of these positions, I realised that although the companies were working to share the stories of their artisan partners, there was still a large gap between makers and consumers. I wanted to bridge that gap to facilitate more cross-cultural understanding and expand knowledge of heritage craft techniques in an effort to preserve them.”

I wanted to bridge that gap to facilitate more cross-cultural understanding and expand knowledge of heritage craft techniques in an effort to preserve them.

“So far we’ve worked with over 20 artisan groups to host over 200 students in over 30 workshops in 3 countries (Guatemala, Mexico and Panama). This year we launch another workshop in Morocco and next year in India. All of the artisans we work with are indigenous craftspeople who come from communities with generational craft traditions and enjoy sharing their culture with curious and appreciative workshop guests.”

Tobacco Duvet and pillow slips by IN BED X Triibe.

Bed dressed in IN BED x Triibe Tobacco linen.

“The walls of the house are white, so I wanted bedding with colour. I love the warmth of the tobacco linens – they feel perfectly complementary to the desertous Oaxacan valley. The moss bedding complements the plants in the home, and the stone coloured sheets are a nice neutral to pair with any duvet.”

“I love my painting by Chiapas-born painter Erick Garcia Gomez that currently hangs over my bed. It shows a woman riding a bull with a snake tail and cowboy boots. The image and colourful patterns feel very surreal and Mexican to me.”

“My favourite piece in the house is my chair by Identidad Local. It’s woven with lake grasses and is a traditional design by artisans in Estado de Mexico.”

Moss Duvet and pillow slips by IN BED X Triibe.
Moss Duvet and pillow slips by IN BED X Triibe.

Caitlin’s bed dressed in IN BED x Triibe Moss linen.

“Right now I live with my dog Bowie, a street dog rescue from Guatemala, and two foster dogs, Tuna and Mamita. I recently started a new project, Caravana Canina, working to feed, spay, neuter, foster and adopt out streets dogs here in Oaxaca. Mamita is a pup I found living in a parking lot with her 7 puppies. I was visiting regularly to feed them and when 5 of her puppies went missing (unfortunately likely killed as a form of street dog population control), I took her and one of her puppies in. Her daughter was adopted by a friend in California and I’m still looking for a home for Mamita. Tuna was left at my front door step with her two sibling pups. One wandered off and my vet and I found the second a home. When Tuna was the last remaining, I decided to bring her in.”

“Most of the pieces in my home have been collected from artisan partners and markets during Thread Caravan workshops. Almost every piece is handmade or vintage, often with direct ties to the artisan, making for a very special collection.”

“Textiles and Oaxaca; the more I learn about both subjects, the more I feel like I am still only scraping the surface. Right now I’m specifically interested in wild heirloom cotton that grows on the Oaxacan coast in shades of orange and green. Thread Caravan also just launched a new textile workshop in India, so I’m enjoying learning more about dhurries, block printing, and other Indian textile traditions.”

“My neighbourhood is pretty rural and residential, known for making ladrillo (brick). I mostly enjoy walking the dogs, talking to my neighbors, and going out for fresh juice in the morning. Although my specific neighbourhood is more rural, it’s only about 10 minutes from a neighbouring town called Huayapam, where I like to go to drink tejate, a traditional pre-hispanic drink that’s extremely nutritious and takes many hours to prepare. I’m also about 15 minutes from Oaxaca Centro, where my favourite thing to do is walk around and pop into my favorite shops and museums.”

@threadcaravan


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