Creative Hands: My first book!

Please forgive the obvious self-promotion here, but it is hard not to be jumping up and down!

Three-plus years ago, I began this blog (Creative Hands of Mexico) as well as a book project. As noted my first blog article (Why?) I have worked voluntarily at Wikipedia for 11+ years but found it has limitations… I can publish there only information that has already been published in “reliable sources.” As many of you are very well aware, there is so much wonderful information that has not been published about Mexico, but really deserves attention. That is one of the functions of the blog. Interestingly enough, if it’s only in this blog, I cannot use the information on Wikipedia… but when the Vallarta Tribune re-publishes an article, it becomes “reliable”.

I will give Wikipedia credit, however. Without a place to put what I learned, I probably would never have gained the background knowledge to do what I do now. I also have had the pleasure of artisans thanking me for that work… how it has helped them.

I have a background in academic writing, teaching it for 25 some-odd years but I had never written a book. Having no idea what the end game would be, I started the project, with a bit of the information summarized in the book appearing in some blog posts. After a year of trying to get a publisher, I had just about decided it was not going to happen, when of course it did. Schiffer, who publishes a lot of books on Mexican handcrafts and folk art, contacted me, asking if the project was available. Of course I said yes, with a mandatory pause for effect.

The process is a very slow one and a little frustrating for this blogger and Wikipedian. Several weeks ago they sent me a proposal for the cover, and after a bit of give-and-take we agreed to a design. But I could not talk about the project publicly until now.

The book is now available on pre order on Amazon! Search Thelmadatter on amazon. The official release date is November 28, 2019.

It now feels so very real!  I was literally jumping up and down. And what excites me the most is that already I am getting more interest from people I have been trying to collaborate with for years. Over this past weekend, I have been receiving many congratulations and many messages asking me when and how to get the book. The cartonería community is eager to get started promoting it.

The book traces the craft from its beginnings, but what I am really proud of is the documentation of the rapid changes that have occurred since the 1990s. Nothing of this has been documented anywhere before in either English or Spanish. Only a series of interviews with artisans and cultural institutions allowed me to get a first draft of this history put together.

Oh yes, I have thought about writing more books. In fact, more than that…. I have two projects started, one on cloth dolls in Mexico and the other on foreign artists in this country. But for these projects I have the honor of collaborating with Ana Karen Allende for the doll book and Helen Bickham for the artist book as experts. Stay tuned!



  1. April 5th, 2019

    Hello Leigh:

    Congrats! on your new book. Are you self published? It’s a ton of work as you know. I am a month away or so from releasing my self published debut children’s picture book titled THE LIGHT IN CY (ages 4-8) in hardcover, paperback and digital/e-book formats.

    I see you are living in the PV area. Last year, I bought a holiday beach home in La Penita de Jaltemba, Nayarit.
    It’s been stressful but worth it. Anyway, I have a question to you RE. cartonería figures (papier-maché toys). In Sayulita, local children sell small paper maché toys on the centro streets to gringos/tourists for $50 pesos or so. They are roughly made and usually involve bright colors with kooky styled characters including animals and humans. If you send me your email I an attach a few photos of the ones I bought in Sayulita last year. I am curious what these are called and the story behind their creation. I have heard from a few Mexican locals that they are in fact made in factories in larger MX cities. Some suggest they are made in China. I do know that when I bought my figures/toys, the child said (in broken English) that they are all crafted locally and that his parents and relatives make them.

    Thanks for your time and good fortune on your new book.


    Mark Glover Masterson

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