Totomoxtle is a new material that harnesses the brilliant spectrum of colour seen in the husks of heirloom corn. Ranging from deep purples, to soft creams, Totomoxtle showcases the range of species of native corn that exist in Mexico. Each husk is carefully cut and peeled off the cob, ironed flat and glued onto a paper pulp or textile backing. At this point the material is ready to be cut by hand or laser into small pieces that are reassembled to make marquetry for furniture or interior surfaces.
But this project goes far beyond simply aesthetics. Totomoxtle focuses on regenerating traditional agricultural practices in Mexico, and creating a new craft that generates income for impoverished farmers while conserving biodiversity for future food security.
Unfortunately, the number of native varieties of Mexican corn are currently in decline due to social and economic factors and the introduction of genetically modified and hybrid corns. At the moment the only hope for saving the heirloom species of maize lies with the indigenous people. They continue to plant them because they use native corn in their traditional recipes and religious ceremonies.
Tototmoxtle operates in partnership with the community of Tonahuixtla, a small village of Mixtec farmers and herders in south west Mexico. Sadly, the arrival of industrial agriculture to the area and the lack of employment opportunities have caused a mass migration, the erosion of the land and the loss of native seeds. Fernando Laposse has been working with a group of families from there since 2016. Together, they are trying to reverse the situation by returning to the traditional agricultural methods that have been used locally for centuries.
The following video tells the complete project of Totomoxtle.