Tigers with wings, dragons with fish tails or grasshoppers with the face of an owl, everything is allowed when making an alebrije. They are handmade figures made of paper or wood that, in the words of the Mexicans themselves, represent part of their culture and identity. Magical and mystical characters that, regardless of their size or shape, are very striking. Unique beings, funny and mysterious, imaginary beings that thanks to their style and over the years, have managed to win a space in the heart of the Aztec people.
The limit that can be given to a alebrije is the limit that the artisan has according to his imagination for his creations, defined as an object, the material with which the alebrijes were originally made was with paper mache and colored paints. The manufacture of alebrijes is another sample of cartonería, deserves special attention. By their nature, they are supernatural figures with tail, wings, long tongue and dragon claws. They are painted in many colors to accentuate their terrifying appearance. The production of these creatures involves recycled material; newspapers and other papers to make a pulp that mixes with other materials, and then sticks to wires or rush frames or melts in a mold. These figures come alive as the craftsman adds the paper by gluing it in layers, lets it dry, adds another layer, and so on until the figure has the desired size and thickness. The finished figures are removed from the mold and decorated.
In San Antonio Arrazola and San Martín Tilcajete, Oaxaca, most of the inhabitants are dedicated to this, almost all men and women live from the craft of creating alebrijes, imaginary artisan figures, created and made only in Mexico. Sculptures made of different types of local woods. They are carved by hand and usually have the shape of real or imaginary animals, that is, they are characterized as a mixture between a common being and a fantastic one. It begins by selecting the wooden trunk depending on the size of the figure to be carved. It can be a special request, something we came up with or just what the shape of the trunk allows us to do. After carving it is allowed to dry some days to polish it since the wood is worked 'green'. The next step is to repair and 'cure' the wood to keep it free of moths and insects. The final step is to paint them. Decorating time will depend on the complexity of the techniques. This last stage can take several weeks to complete.