Darlene Foster's Blog

Art and Travel Memories

Posted on: June 9, 2020

My home is decorated mostly with items I´ve brought back from my travels. Since we can’t travel right now, it’s comforting to remember past trips. We enjoy looking through our photographs or at items we have brought back to remind us of wonderful times. I don’t do a lot of shopping when I travel, but I like to bring back a piece of art or handicraft as a memento of the place we’ve visited.

One of these items is a small, rustic vase decorated with rawhide that sits on my mantel. Something I couldn’t bear to leave behind, so it came with me to Spain. I believe I purchased it in Arizona at a Native American craft shop. I remember asking the salesperson about the background of the pottery, as I always like to know about the art I purchase. She kindly wrote the name of the Native North American Indian tribe the artist belonged to on the back of the American Express receipt. I got busy and forgot to do any research when I got home.

The other day as I was dusting the mantel, I wished I had looked up some information about the creators of the pottery. I reached inside and found a piece of paper. I pulled out a yellowed and very faded receipt. The young woman’s printing on the back of it was still clear: TARAHUMARA.

My piece of Tarahumara pottery

We had just watched a show on TV about the Tarahumara Indians who live in the Copper Canyon, in the state of Chihuahua, Northern Mexico. When I tutored Korean students in English, I used a lesson plan about the Tarahumara Racers who run a 90-mile race non-stop over rough terrain, often barefoot or wearing homemade huaraches, with little difficulty.

After doing some research, I found that author Christopher McDougall has written a book called Born to Run, where he highlights these amazing people with incredible running abilities.

Here is a short video about these special people.

Tarahumara pottery is made of rough earthen clay and is usually white, orange, or brown. A decorative slip made of red ocher powder and water is often applied. The vessel is left to dry and harden in the sun, before being placed into an open, dry flame for about an hour and a half. Rather than being polished and smooth, Tarahumara Indian pottery is rustic and still made as it has been for generations. Often strips of rawhide are stretched around the piece to add to the simple design.

What a great find. Although the American Express receipt was too faded to read the name of the store, I was able to make out the date, 04/15/ 92. I’ve had this piece of pottery for twenty-eight years and only just now learned more about it! It is now even more special.

Do you have anything you have brought back from your travels that has special meaning to you?

118 Responses to "Art and Travel Memories"

The ancient Indian tribes here in North America are fascinating. They were a lot smarter than we give them credit for.

Studies have shown that they are some of the happiest people n the world as they are not interested in material things. I knew you would be interested in these people as they came from Asia originally. They are amazing; smart and very creative.

Yes, wines! I don’t buy a wine to drink immediately, but to age and mature, if I get it right ….. for the better. Often, if I get it right, a wine I buy in France, or Spain, or Italy, costing say £10, will cost £50 when I drink it in 5 years time. Las week we opened up a bottle of Pommard bought 5 years ago …. but the price and value was irrelevant, because drinking that wine conjured up so much memory, family together, walking through vineyards, visiting the winemaker, an evening barbecue and watching the sun go down over the golden slopes of the Côte d’Or.

How wonderful! I love how the wine evokes these great memories. I am impressed you are able to save it for 5 years.

Been doing it for 50 years Darlene and it’s easier than it sounds. Year 1 buy wine and keep for 5 years, year 2 repeat, year 3 repeat, year 4 repeat, year 5 repeat etc. In between buy wine ready for drinking, but by now from year 5 you are drinking superbly aged and expensive wines. I was lucky, I learned how to do this as a student. Bizarre!

It does require a certain discipline, which you obviously have.

Ha ha, I suppose a group of us doing PhDs in chemistry certainly had discipline as well as a growing love of wine

Amazing that you found that piece of paper after all this time – and that you’d just watched that TV programme. It’s a beautiful pot and what an interesting video about the Tarahumara people. My favourite item from my travels is my little ceramic penguin that I bought in the Antarctic Centre in Tasmania 20 years ago.

I know. I couldn’t believe it was still inside the pot! That little penguin would be very special.

How wonderful to find that piece of paper, Darlene! It’s a lovely little pot, and I’ve now learned about the Tarahumara tribe! Thank you!

My inability to throw things away pays off sometimes! (I’m getting better) Always good to learn something new.

Indeed. I never throw anything away either.

Marvelous! What a story!

We began collecting mugs from the places we visited. Everybody drinks something, so we all use these mugs. We have many sizes, shapes, and colors. John changes them out every couple of months. I asked him for an estimate, and he thinks we have about 200. Obviously, we never see them all at once. We started this collection when we lived in England 40 years ago.

That is cool. I’m sure drinking a beverage out of those mugs brings back memories of the places they were purchased. You could have a big party and not run out of mugs!

We don’t know enough people here to run out of mugs.

Long ago, I bought some paintings from Indians in Albuquerque as a gift for Aunt Ruthie. When she died, they came back to me.

Once I read a line for tidy travelers: Photos are the best travel souvenirs. Like you, though, I like something special from my travels, like the ceramic plates decorated with lemons from Positano, Italy, displaying on my spring table right now.

Photos are great souvenirs. In fact, I have had a few of mine blown up, framed, and hanging in my house. How nice you got the paintings back and the plates sound lovely!

How lovely to learn more about this pot, Darlene. Thank you for sharing this information with us. You know, I think, that I have a doll fascination. I always try to purchase a few dolls when I travel so I have from Kenya, Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, and all over South Africa. I have a red Indian doll, a Venetian doll, a Mauri doll and many from the UK. I also have a lot of Harlequins and a koala bear from Australia.

You have a fabulous doll collection, many with great memories! I think collecting dolls is a great thing to do. I used to bring dolls back for my granddaughters when I traveled. I wonder if they still have them.

A lovely post and video Darlene how special is that piece of pottery it is beautiful. I always bring home pottery either a bowl or a rocking horse I collect miniatures not modern precast ones but hand made or quirky ones…I have a beautiful one I got in Prague made from terracotta tiles..sometimes I go years without finding one and then I come across one and they have travelled with …xxx

Thanks, Carol. Collecting rocking horses is very unique and special. Now I will think of you whenever I see one!

I have a Balinese hand-carved, painted mask from our honeymoon – and a Didgeridoo that I had shipped back when I was in Australia, handpainted with Aboriginal artwork! Also, you might like Travel Writer Paul Theroux’s newest book “On The Plain Of Snakes” – his journey through the small towns of Mexico two years ago…topical and powerful look at their culture…
https://johnrieber.com/2019/12/18/paul-therouxs-on-the-plain-of-snakes-his-incredible-mexican-journey-here-are-the-best-books-to-give-as-holiday-gifts-heres-a-list/

Thanks, John. It sounds like you have some treasures. I appreciate the book recommendation.

This is fascinating, Darlene. I still have a couple of small mementos from a year’s travel throughout Europe and England back in 1979. I have a leather wine decanter from Italy and a crystal shot glass from Germany. And I have 3 albums full of photos. 🙂 I couldn’t afford to buy much back then, but I’m really glad I still have the albums.

Pictures are the best souvenirs for sure. xo

I love to find something special when I travel that brings back memories. Everything has a story. Gave up a few things when we moved last year, but kept what I really liked. Enjoyed hearing about this Native American vase.

We do have to get rid of some things when we move. I’m so glad I kept this one!

Our book club is reading Mc Duggalls new book Running with Sherman, Sherman is a donkey. It’s an interesting book. I bring home little things from my trip, There are all over my house and bring back memories when I look at them. Right now I am packing most of them because we are starting a partial remodel next year. The first in 34 years.

Good luck with the remodel. When you unpack your things it will be like Christmas all over again! Make sure you look inside things as you never know what you will find.xo

Hi, Darlene – That’s so cool that you were able to find out more about your pottery all of these years later. It truly is a stunning piece.

Thanks! I love it and even more now. xo

It is interesting to recall those bits and pieces we collect. I’ve a hand woven rug from Peru and blue and white pottery in my eyeline right now but my fav pieces are homages to my continued fascination (obsession?) with all things Tintin. I have a rocket from brussels, statues from new zealand and oddly a picture from Cannes. Not exactly local but i can always remember when and where I was when i got them.

That is so cool that you have been able to find Tintin memorabilia all over the world. These things always bring back memories.

That’s fascinating, Darlene. Thanks for sharing. How wonderful to have the receipt inside. So much to learn.

Thanks so much, Nora!! I´m pleased you enjoyed the post.

This is a very special pottery from the Navajo Tribe, Darlene! I can see why you took it with you to Spain. I brought back at least one small memento from each trip and my home is decorated with them also. I’m surprised you still have the receipt after 28 years. I shouldn’t be surprised because I saved all the train tickets, tickets to the museum or shows. Only very recently when I tired to declutter, I recycled most of the receipts.

It´s great to have these things to remind us of our travels. I save way too much but this receipt was still tucked inside the vase!

Oh, I see, Darlene. It makes sense that you still have the receipt! I collect mugs, figurines, and magnets and other items. When I ran out of space to put them, I only collect magnets just to remember where we’ve been.

My daughter collects magnets but she doesn´t travel, so I bring her back a magnet from everywhere I go. I try to find something different like a paella magnet from Spain and a flip flop magnet from Hawaii. She has them all on her metal door to her pottery studio.

Oh, your daughter has a pottery studio! How neat! I started learning ceramic by making a whale free handed. Overtime, I only color biscuits. That’s one of my many hobbies.

My daughter is a potter. Here is her website if you would like to see some of her work. http://www.madmudslinger.com
xo

What a fascinating story! I enjoyed the video as well. I had not heard of the Tarahumara before.

The Tarahumara people are very interesting and it is their amazing capacity to run that has brought them into the public eye recently.

It is lovely! Do you use the pot for anything? I know I would most likely ‘plantify’ it.

I have never used it for anything but to decorate my home, hence the reason the receipt was still inside it. Thanks for stopping by.

I’m happy that you looked inside your vase. It lead you to write this very interesting post, thank you!

So am I. Thanks, Karen!

Very intriguing, there’s so much to know about this world. Its a mystery! Thanks for sharing.

I know and I love learning about the mysteries of this world. So great to see you here!!

Happy to catch up on your blog!!

What a great story and a beautiful piece of pottery. I love Native American art and this piece is very special. I usually get teapots when I travel so I have lots of those as you can imagine.

I know. I even look at teapots on my travels and think, Beth Ann would like that one! This is a very special piece of pottery, not made by my daughter.

I love this blog Darlene ..it’s so cool to think that you finally found the receipt and discovered the creator of the pottery. We watched a documentary on this race recently …very incredible participants. I try to bring back some small item from places when I travel and often it’s jewellery….I have the ability to keep these pieces easily, wear it frequently and then easily recall my travels…one of my favourite pieces is a gold necklace I purchased in NYC 10 years ago.

Jewellery is always a good thing to bring back and remind you of your travels. Glad you enjoyed the post. Hugs. xo

[…] Learn a little something about the Tarahumara Indians via Art and Travel Memories […]

Wow! Amazing Darlene! What a nice piece! Hope you enjoy it all the more now! 🙂

Thanks, Carol Anne. I do enjoy it more now. xo

Hi Darlene – How wonderful that you were able to find out more about your pottery. It is a beautiful piece. #senisal

Thanks, Natalie!! It was a great find, the pottery piece and the receipt.

I always had a fascination with creating pottery and a high respect for native American pottery. Love the back story on this Darlene. Great post…thank you !

Thanks, Kirt! I´m happy to have this lovely piece of Native American pottery in my collection.

That was so interesting, Darlene – it’s such gorgeous, earthy pottery. Toni x

I love the earthy, natural look. Thanks, Toni.

I love to bring back any handicrafts and that’s how I decorate my home! There is just so much history in a handmade pottery.

I have always loved pottery and have some great pieces in my house. My daughter is a potter so I have many pieces from her as well. Thanks for visiting, Trisha.

such brilliance overall. the picture, the pot, the post, the comments.

Thank you. So pleased you enjoyed the post.

What a great find, and so interesting. I love to decorate my place with rare finds on my travels. It makes a great conversation piece with guests. I hope you find more awesome gems in the future.

Thanks for stopping by my blog.

What wonderful memories you house must hold!

Thanks! Great to see you here n my bog.

Lots and lots… Some favorites are Navajo sand painting and post!

I love Navajo sand painting. I’m sure every piece you have brings back a good memory.

post SHOULD be pots (two small ones) that are exquisite… ❤

I love that you entered a whole new world from that vase that had been sitting on the mantel. Travel souvenirs are such treasures.

They are, even years later. Thanks for stopping in.

Thank goodness that piece of paper was still in the pottery. The research must have been exciting to do. It’s a beautiful piece!

Sometimes never throwing anything away, pays off. The research was very interesting.

A little bit of the world in your home

That pottery is so cool
Though I have all over North America I never brought back anything
I always look at death Dinosaurs and burial sites

Stay well and laugh a lot

This post was both informative and interesting. It reminded me of some pots I picked up from Jordan. I’m thinking of looking it up now. Thank you for sharing this information on the Tarahumara people.

Thanks, I´m pleased you enjoyed the post.

I must appreciate the creativeness in this. It’s simple but attractive. I remember I brought some sea shells when I went to a beach and they were really very beautiful.

Seashells are always a great thing to bring back and provide a nice memory. I have a nice collection from various beaches.

Your collection will bring you back all the memories and you can travel again with your memories!

Darlene, we totally agree with you about decorating with items from our travels. It’s so fun to have these special items around as reminders of special experiences. I love your little vase. Our favorite is a pair of “Poporos” from Colombia. They are small gold replicas of Pre-Columbian figures, originally used as storage containers for lime which was taken during the age-old ritual of chewing coca leaves. They’re just fun – and a great conversation starter. ~Terri

I can imagine your home would be decorated with items from your travels. The Poporos sound interesting. I’d love to see a picture of them. Perhaps another blog post idea. Hugs to both of you. xo

Hi Darlene, you and James must think alike because he did a short post about them a few years ago. Here’s the link. Hugs to you, too. ~T
https://gallivance.net/2012/07/22/a-welcome-but-strange-travel-companion/

Thanks for the link. I’m glad you saved that one. Now that I see them, I can see how they would evoke conversation.

I love this. My family and I always grab a Christmas or ornament whenever we go on vacation for the tree. This post reminded me of a trip I just took to Colorado! Love love love the art.

Christmas tree ornaments are a great thing to bring back. I have done that too. Great memories as you decorate the tree every year! The art of the southern states is incredible. Thanks for stopping by.

Great story! I don’t have anything as special as yours, but I usually like to bring jewelry from places I visit because I can take them with me whenever I go out.

Jewelry is a perfect thing to bring back. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Yes! On every single travel because that’s the only souvenir to remember apart from pictures. ☺️

Bringing back a peice of art is a great way to remember travels. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Great read and interesting to get to know about many cultures. Please check out my travel blog @ https://travelrahul.wordpress.com/
Please follow me for more exciting content.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Happy travels.

Your story resonates with me. I do the same. Instead of lots of trinkets, I try get one real nice item to bring home. A useful item like a hand painted serving dish, brings back memories, and becomes a conversation piece. When an item turns out to very special, like your pot, it is even better.

I agree, one memorable piece is better than many trinkets. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

We brought back 2 things from our trips. Fridge magnets displayed on a metal sheet in one of our rooms and local art from some of the countries we visited on our cruises. The recalling memories from these items is wonderful when we look at them.

Both great things to bring back. My daughter doesn’t travel so I always bring her a unique fridge magnet which she puts on the metal door of her pottery shed. That way she feels she has been part of my trips.

Amazing memories and a great history to go with it! We have a couple of small ornaments we love from Turkey that have moved house with us over the last 8 years 😊

Every time you look at them you remember your great holiday! Thanks for visiting my blog.

I miss traveling! Last year I went on five holidays and this year haven’t even been on one… It is rather painful. I do hope that everything is back to normal next year so I can just travel freely.

Great post- a complete story. Your post brings a me a mixed feeling. When I first view the post I like the photo, it reminds me the potteries I have seen in the Mexican museum of Chicago. The earthy colour and simple geometrical painting impressed me. I have a fascination for pottery. I collect pottery of different shapes and sizes. Some times I painted on clay pots. I learned how to make pots on a wheel. therefore your posts interest me a lot. At the end I have a guilt feeling. I collect things from different places but never ask about the artist. Specially the boomerang I bought from Australia. The person sold told that it was painted by her daughter, but I did not ask the name of the girl. Your post changes my attitude, I’ll ask about the artist next time.

Thanks for visiting my blog. It’s nice to meet another pottery lover. It is nice to know more about the artist.

It really is one great idea. Sometimes it might be the smallest of things that display the country’s essence. And it is even more effective than photos at times.

I agree. Thanks for stopping by.

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