In the way of crafts there just isn´t much here. Haciendas Mundo Maya has been at the forefront in promoting the traditional Yucatecan crafts like embroidery, metalwork, filigree, and henequen mostly in co-op formed in remote villages surrounding the haciendas they have restored as retreats and hotels.
But in the past few years with there has been an influx of foreign designers and Mexican entrepreneurs using traditional techniques to make more desirable and contemporary items. Angela Damman works in henequen fiber to make accessories and home furnishings on her hacienda near Telchac Pueblo. You can find a few of her henequen accessories on calle 55 at Kukul or Coqui Coqui. George Samuelson is an artist who recycles old sisal factory machine parts. Most pieces are combined with hard tropical wood to make sculptural and interesting home furnishings. His partner Katrin Schikora makes ceramics and lighting. Angela, George and Katrin have their works on view at Origen.
In the little village of Dzitya you´ll find wood turners and stone carvers who have a fair each fall and spring. The best come into town for the AANY Arte y Mano show in the late fall where you can find everything from folk artist to traditional artisans working in all sorts of materials.
One of my favorite things to collect are the animals that are made from the scraps of hand woven wool skirts and serapes from the state of Chiapas. I love the ceramics and found objects that the artist Joe Kurjahec turns into sculptures that would easily fit in a carry on bag. Felipa Tzeek Naal one of the Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art weaves palm fronds into floor mats in tiny village of Nunkini on the border of Campeche. They are too fine for the floor and I use them for the walls, tables and head boards. Jeff Ware makes incredible hand crafted knives in the village of Cholul on the outskirts of Merida. Hacienda Montecristo and Caravana are two fashion houses that grew out of the Coqui Coqui empire in Tulum but have gone global in stores like Merci and Barneys New York. There´s something for everyone but it´s not always obvious where to shop or when. Sometimes it´s better shop for images when the search for stuff grows to frustrating.
It has taken us years of collecting and editing to furnish our homes in Merida. It´s been fun and often frustrating. I curse the day Yucatan Living did a guide to shopping for antiques in Merida. The prices tripled for the few paltry items one could find. The trend in the 90´s for southwestern furnishings had already bled the peninsula dry by the time we got here. I never share the carpenters, upholsters or iron workers that I use as I learned that lesson the hard way. But there are many great craftsmen and women around the Yucatan and if you are patient you´ll be happy at some point down the line. We made a lot of furniture since we moved here. Some of the best in our houses at Urbano Rentals or at Casa de los Artistas in Izamal.