If you are lucky enough to visit Isla Mujeres (Spanish for “Island of the Women”), be sure to stop in the Isla Women’s Beading Cooperative in La Gloria! You can visit the co-op by taking the Ultramar ferry from Cancun to Isla Mujeres and then taking a taxi or renting a golf cart when you arrive on Isla. Contact the co-op via Facebook Messaging: https://www.facebook.com/IslaMujeresBeadingCoop.
This group of amazing artists (57 women more or less) creates one of a kind handcrafted beaded jewelry … necklaces, earrings, bracelets, purses and more. Their work is very high quality, the kind you would find in a juried craft fair. Each piece of jewelry is unique, woven together one bead at a time, handcrafted over many hours and made from Delica and glass seed beads, shells, Swarovski crystals, semi-precious stones and pearls. The play of texture, color and light reflects the centuries old Mayan heritage which they bring to their designs.
If you stop at the storefront, you will almost always meet a group of the women beading around a table. Each woman earns a percentage of the sale of one of their pieces, with a percentage going back into the cooperative to buy beads and other supplies. With this income, the women can pay for housing, food and school tuition for their children. In addition, as the cooperative has grown, the women have a larger social support group and the cooperative functions as an extended family.
The cooperative is open Monday through Saturday, from about 9 am – 4 pm. If you are taking a taxi, ask for “el Taller de Artesanias de Mujeres junto a la Cruz Roja y otro lado de la calle de la Iglesia Corazon Sagrado.” (the store of the Women Artists that is next to the Red Cross and across the street from the new Catholic Church). If you are renting a golf cart from El Centro, drive south on Rueda Medina (the western perimeter road) until the Mundaca Pavillion, then turn left (east) on the newly paved divided road. The store is a few blocks east on the north side of the road. They make only one of a kind pieces and their jewelry is not available online so do stop in and see their work first hand. You’ll be so glad you did! Copy by Karen Rosenberg
& Margaret Washa/Images by Pam Haase, Robert Miller, John Hesley & Karen Rosenberg