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Tanya’s Four Sourcing Hot Spots

The designer picks up her construction materials and techniques on jaunts to Mexico and India.

When you want to discover new materials or pick up new techniques, sometimes you’ve got to get out of town. And for Tanya Aguiñiga, who makes bold, pliable jewelry from her Los Angeles workshop, that means heading all over the globe: to her native Mexico, the Northeastern U.S., Alaska, and India. This is what appeals about each destination.

Bold rope for sale in Chiapas

I grew up on the border, but I never traveled that much in Mexico—I never really had a sense of my Mexican identity. So in 2007, I started traveling to different places in Mexico, and Chiapas was one place I felt super, super attached to. It has the largest population of indigenous people in North America, and everybody works with their hands. There’s a really long textile history in that region, and so the colors and techniques are something that I was drawn to. Then in Oaxaca, there’s a lot of clay work. Every little town does a different type of technique.”

Pelts at a shop in Alaska

“Last time I was there, I bought a bunch of leather-working stuff. There are all these specialty gloves and needles and threads used to sew salmon skin that I’ve never seen in the lower 48.”

Yarn by the pound in R.I.

Rhode Island
“I went to grad school in Rhode Island at RISD. Rhode Island has a huge textile history because that’s where the Industrial Revolution started in the U.S. as far as the big mills go. There’s a lot of leftover yarn from different factories all over Rhode Island. I go through boxes and buy yarn by the pound.”

Block printing and dyes in India

“I visited one family that has done block printing for hundreds of years. They carve their own blocks and make these dyes that change colors when you boil them—it looks like everything’s been printed with a big printer, it’s so precise.”

Score the piece Tanya constructed just for us: an awesome, oversize gold-leafed cuff.