“Roseate Spoonbills” Women’s Co-op Group of Barra de Potosi Make Innovative Mexican Craftwork

By:  Barbara Erickson

“Roseate Spoonbills.”  Aren’t they pink birds? Yes, Roseate Spoonbills are indeed lovely large pink birds that one could easily mistake for flamingos! It also so happens that Roseate Spoonbills (or “Espatulas Rosadas” in Spanish) is the name of the Woman’s Co-operative Group in Barra de Potosi, a tiny fishing village south of Zihuatanejo in Mexico. The confusion is understandable when you see these smiling women all gathered together to show and sell their handmade arts and crafts, all dressed in signature pink, you cannot help but think of a flock of pink birds!

Tourists and visitors to the Ixtapa Zihuatanejo area often inquire about the types of business and industry that can be found in the area.  Our main industry is tourism.  Many local men work as fishermen, farmers, or workers and professionals in the hotel and restaurant industries.  There are also many women professionals and business owners in the area.  For many families, women often find ways to supplement their family incomes through cooking, cleaning or selling their handicrafts and goods.

The “Roseate Spoonbills” Women’s Co-op Group in Barra de Potosi started as a small group of women who were determined to find a way to supplement the incomes of their fishermen husbands and brothers.  Barra de Potosi is a small, beachside village, about 30 minutes south of Zihuatanejo on the coast of the Pacific Ocean.   Barra de Potosi boasts some wonderful seafood restaurants, a number of small hotels and a variety of rental properties. It is also the location of our famous wild life sanctuary lagoon, “El Refugio de Potosi.”

Barra de Potosi

Rather than work outside their homes, some of the local women in Barra de Potosi sought ideas that they could work on at home – something unique which could appeal to tourists and visitors, could be easily carried in a suit case and would not break.  Thus, the painted placemat project was born. A renowned Canadian artist, Chris Dikeakos, who visited the area, critiqued the ladies’ first efforts and sent design ideas and drawing books for them to practice.  Gwen Dirks, an artist in San Miguel de Allende, also provided art lessons and the women were off and running!

The “Roseate Spoonbills” now number twenty local women who make a wide variety of products, including whimsical bird sculptures from coconuts and natural fibers, coconut dishes and napkin holders, painted fish, coconut jewelry, purses, throw pillows and traditional local embroidery – all dressed in signature pink!  The women continue to look for inspiration and outlets to sell their products.

Coconut Napkin Holders and Paper Flowers with Alma

coconut Bird Figure 1

Best of all, the “Roseate Spoonbills” laugh, tease, and have so much fun together! Just spending an hour with them will lift anyone’s spirits. But, their work is very important to the local community!  This year, they are saving the portion of their proceeds to dedicate to the community for various festival activities for the children. They divide their sales earnings: 50% to the artist, 20% to the group for materials and 30% back to the co-op for these types of community projects.

Happy Shoppers 2

This is pure Mexican artisan craftwork in its most original and innovative form!  Take a look at their video!

You can generally find the “Roseate Spoonbills Women’s Co-op Group” in Barra de Potosi at “Enramada Rostia” Restaurant.  Take Interstate Highway 200 south to the “Achotes” exit, turn right and take the road to the beach.  Make a left at the beach road and continue to the end.  You can also contact the group’s president, Araceli Oregon Salas at 755-551-6644 or 755-102-1538.  If you would like to bring a group to shop, they are happy to arrange for you to see all their offerings in one place.

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