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Making magical creations with Mexican artist, Joel Garcia at Nomad

Year after year, Nomad hosts Joel Garcia for a week in October.  He spends time at the store, making and painting Día de los Muertos figures, and demonstrating his technique for visitors.

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Día de Los Muertos is a Mexican holiday, but one that is celebrated all over the world.  On November 1 and 2, families and friends gather to remember and honor the memories of deceased loved ones – cleaning and decorating their tombstones, bringing marigolds to the cemetery, cooking offerings of food, lighting candles, and building personalized altars.


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It is not a day of sadness, but rather of remembrance, respect, and reverence.  If you’ve spotted our October windows and in-store stock, or participated in our holiday events, you would know that Nomad has always been a proud supporter of celebrating this holiday!

Upon each visit, we ask Joel Garcia to create Día de Los Muertos figures of well-loved celebrities and public figures who have passed over the past año.  This year, we requested Ann B. Davis as Alice from the Brady Bunch, Robin Williams as Mork and Nelson Mandela.

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Joel also teaches a two-day papier maché workshop at Nomad!
Students begin on day one by creating their figures out of paper, paste and wire.



The sculpture dries overnight, and students spend the second day
painting & glazing their figures.




It’s always a joy for students to take home their very own
completely handmade, original works of art!

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Check out Lisa’s amazing whale, and more of her work on instagram/yellowsunlisa !

If you missed out on any of the Día de Los Muertos festivities at Nomad, be sure to sign up for our newsletter for future notifications, and stay tuned for next year!

Ishi Designs Folk Art

April 29, 2013

a blend of modern fashion with the vast heritage of Mexican artistry…

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Ishi Designs folk art is the perfect fit for Nomad in that it reflects our love for handmade jewelry with ethnographic influence and a bit of magic.

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Gina Barrios

Artist/Designer Gina Barrios has been working with the Huichol people of Mexico, known for their symbolic bead work, to craft a collection of bracelets, amulet necklaces, and rings that you can find right here at Nomad.


& We are currently anticipating the latest Ishi Designs Project for Spring: Gina has lately been working with the weavers of Tenancingo, Mexico to create a colorful collection of scarves inspired by the traditional Spanish rebozos.

Do you want to really charm your loved one? In spirit of St. Valentine, we thought that we’d let you in on some little secrets on how to do just that. One of our goals here at NOMAD is to share with you the beauties and histories of different cultures, traditions, jewelry, and crafts stemming from all over the world, so I’ve collected a few keepsakes that truly capture the heart & soul of their makers.



MILAGROS:  Acquiring their name from the Spanish word for “Miracles”,  milagros are devotional charms originating from ancient folk customs in various Latin American cultures. Though they have been traditionally fashioned from materials such as wood, wax, and bone, these charms are most typically cast in silver and occasionally gold. For centuries, milagros have been offered to deities as symbols for a person’s concerns, wishes, and gratitudes for specific miracles. You will frequently see milagros in the forms of body parts, in thanks or concern for healing a certain area. While hearts may be assumed to symbolize love, they often represented prayers for one’s internal organs. Similarly, a crown traditionally was offered to a saint as a plea for successful marriage. Despite their religious origins, we always recommend milagros as heartfelt, personalized gifts: a foot milagro for an athlete, a lung for someone trying to quit smoking, a plane for safe travels, or even a horse milagro to give your little niece who just wants a pony.







EX-VOTOS: Literally translating as “from a vow,” ex-votos are very similar to milagros in that they call for good health, well-being, and miracles. Nomad has a wonderful medley of vintage ex-votos from Northern Brazil, each hand-carved from a single piece of wood. The ex-votos represent promesas, promises that are kept by the doner in exchange for a granted request. The most abundant type of ex-voto are the sculptures of body parts, manifesting areas once affected by illness, disease, or pain–problems that certain saints are believed to cure. Their meaning is largely determined by the individual prayer. A breast may symbolize maternity, an open hand for mercy and blessing, or a foot to represent a long walk.









EVIL EYE CHARMS: A dominant symbol amongst the people of Turkey, and often given in the form of an amulet to wear for protection, the Evil Eye is assumed as the negative power or bad energy that a person often projects, consciously or not. The Turkish people, along with many other cultures, believe that a form of the Evil Eye should be kept on person or hung in the home, as all of the negative energy is absorbed into the amulet rather than the self.  It is an ancient superstition that is still upheld all over the world, from the Mediterranean coasts, Arabia, Turkey, and all the way to India.











MUNACHI: The munachi is a Peruvian amulet that is inspired by the Quechua word, muna, meaning to love”, and chi, “to cause to happen”. In other words, if you are looking for love and companionship, this is how to show it! The charm is actually carved from a small piece of soapstone or black terracota clay, and represents two lovers entwined head-to-head, heart-to-heart, and foot-to-foot. The design, particularly with the soapstone, is often a bit vague at first glance, but when the charm is perceived in its entirety, the image of love and sexuality is very moving. In ancient traditions, a “love-spell” was cast when a piece of one lover’s hair was knotted around the necks of the charm, then later given to his or her significant other as a keepsake.


(The story behind these munachis makes me love mine that much more!)


In February of this past year, we traveled as a small group of 10 to the magical land of Guatemala – a country who’s natural beauty and powerful cultural and social identity made this destination an exciting combination of cultural insight, artisanal demonstrations, and welcome participation in regional fiestas and religious demonstrations.

Guatemala has suffered several decades of political turmoil and civil war and was focused primarily in Guatemala’s highland area, known as the Ixil Triangle. Many native people were caught in the cross-fire and their village life & livelihood ruined. So when we planned our visit to Guatemala, we made sure to include stops to this highland area. We were invited to visit the re-emerging fair-trade artisan co-operatives of this rural area in Guatamala to view the beautiful one of a kind folk art and felt privileged to be some of the first tourists to return and tour the lush highlands of this beautiful land.