Throw Back Thursday - Mario Lopez Torres Edition

Throw Back Thursday - Mario Lopez Torres Edition

Posted by william Pritchard on

Jane and Billy alongside their Chevy truck in Bernal


Let’s go way back. To our honeymoon days. Almost 25 years ago, which is hard to believe. Before cell phones. Before email really. Where the seeds of our lives together and this accidental business were sown. Two aimless, adventurous young adults lumbering thru Central Mexico in a big red Chevy truck, searching for noted centers of folk art with our map (yes, the kind you unfold in the air), and stumbling into beautiful, remote, way off the beaten path peublas. 


Jane and Billy's Mexican Visas


 We met titans of the craft world in dusty villages. We walked past their dogs and children playing, and knocked on the doors of their houses or workshops--Doras Poras, Juan Jimenez, Josefina Aguilra and her sisters.  We visited craft towns like Ocumicho with its fantastical ceramics scenes, the talavera of Dolores Hidalgo, the giant pineapples of Patamban, the rug town of Teotitlan, the childlike embroidery of Patzcuaro, the black pottery of Oaxaca, the pointilisticly painted pottery of Capula, the copper of Santa Clara del Cobre. We also met an emerging crop of new artisans along the way inspired by the old, like Manuel Morales, a fifth generation potter in the pottery town of Tzintzuntzan (his studio, located in the back of a sixteenth century church courtyard, next to olive trees planted 400 years earlier by Spanish priests), to others, defectors from the big cities, just looking for simpler lives. From one artist there was generally a lead to another. On one such trip to potter Ricardo Calderon in the mountain village of Patamban, Jane spied a very modern swooped shaped hyacinth woven chair and said “WHO makes that?!” which introduced us to Mario and Lena Lopez Torres, founders of the workshop Tzumindi several hours in another direction. And we were off.


The Torres couple had fled their dense hometown of Mexico City and set up shop in Ihuatzio on the shores of Lake Patzcuaro known for its basket weaving. It was there Mario used his welding and art skills to create metal “skeletons” or bones of animals, which Elena and their plethora of basket weaving neighbors wove with the reeds of water hyacinth from the lake shores in their front yard, into enchanting practical works of art: monkey consoles, parrot floor lamps, pig stools, bird table lamps.


Bird Lamp

Our first trade show in March of 1995 is a hodge podge collection of those meandering drives--and front and center was a beautiful basket by the Torres-Lopez’s that we still have in our house today.


First Booth 1995

The first ever Stray Dog Designs booth, then known as Stray Dog Imports


We were an emerging company attending trade shows, and the Lopez-Torres’ work fit comfortably into our line, so we became the exclusive dealers for the Lopez-Torres’ art  in the US and it sold very well for a number of years. One of our favorite buyers was the ever lovely Mimi Kemble of Kemble Interiors in Palm Beach. Over the years she must have purchased a small army of pig stools. She adored them.  She said she would scattered them about the room and said she could always judge a good party by how many people were dancing on pigs.

They were good days. They were fun days. And just like today, we were trying to figure it out.

Jane and friend

Jane and Fernando Maqueo in Oaxaca

We giggle a bit now as we see the vintage pieces returning to glossy magazines and high end antique stores--(FIRST DIBS, HOUSE BEAUTIFUL, COASTAL LIVING)


John Fondas House Beautiful

A John Fondas designed condo in House Beautiful. Photo by James Merrell



 We found this lovely dining room in Coastal Living.
Design by Amanda Lindroth, styled by Liz Strong,
photo by Brie Williams, text by Steph Hunt


We were are delighted to see the wonderful, wacky woven work of Mario Torres make a reappearance in the home fashion world. It makes us happy his art is appreciated, praised and flaunted once again....and maybe just a teensy bit proud of ourselves for discovering his studio and promoting his creations all those many many moons ago. 

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