Creative Travel in Santa Fe, New Mexico: Tin Smith Workshop & Taos Pueblo Visit

I have been longing to come here for so long that it feels just natural to land in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Flying over from New York City, the third stop on my #CreativElenaRTW trip, I enjoy taking in the beauty of the vast Central American plains before crossing the soaring, snow-covered Rockies. What a sight!

View upon the Central American Plains, as spotted from my airplane at Denver Airport, Colorado.

View upon the Central American Plains, as spotted from my airplane just before landing at Denver Airport, Colorado.

 

And we continue talking altitude: The city of Santa Fe is located at over 2.000 metres above sea level (or 7.000 feet, as the Americans keep saying 😉 ), making for a kind of semi-arid, dry mountain climate. With the recent cold snap of the late fall season, however, I am actually greeted by snowy patches on the ground that do their best to stand out against the uniform-coloured adobe houses of Santa Fe. Santa Fe … To me, the city has always had a calling. It was here that the first ever Creative Tourism Conference was held in 2008, the very year that also marked my first interaction with creative travel in New Zealand. Ever since, I have closely been following the local Santa Fe Creative Tourism strategy, from its early beginnings to its fruition as one of the world’s leading networks for “bridging the gap between artists and travellers”, as dear Rebecca Wurzburger, the city’s former Mayor Pro-Tem and mastermind behind Santa Fe’s creative tourism development, likes to call it. You can thus imagine my joy of being here, finally, as a creative traveller myself! And I shall start by telling you about my very first experience with Creative Tourism Santa Fe:

 

A tin smith crafts workshop with Sharon Candelario as well as a visit to Taos Pueblo, introducing me to local Native American history and allowing for a better appreciation of the “sense of place”.

This one goes out to dear Sharon Candelario and her wonderfully charming, making-me-feel-at-home family! Her brother is simply referred to as “The Chile Man” (and I shall tell you a little later why!), her father makes sure we keep the fire going behind our backs, and her mum drops by eagerly asking about our wellbeing. So sweet! Sharon herself is a tin smith artist, who swapped her career as a social worker for becoming a “self-determined, woman entrepreneur some 13 years ago”, she tells me over introducing me to some impressive black-etched tin smithing pieces she has created. Her studio at Medina Art Gallery is located in a tiny little town called Chimayó, some 30 kilometres north of Santa Fe, mostly known for the adjacent Sanctuary & Chapel – and Sharon Candelario, of course!

It's road trip time! Hiring a rental car for the day and finding my way out to Chimayó, about half an hour's drive north of Santa Fe, proves to be easy and fun!

It’s road trip time! Hiring a rental car for the day and finding my way out to Chimayó, about half an hour’s drive north of Santa Fe, proves to be easy and fun!

 

Love the purity and simplicity of the landscape that greets me around here.

Love the purity and simplicity of the landscape that greets me around here, especially those “blue mountains” on the horizon.

 

Having arrived in Chimayó, Sharon does her best to show me around and get a feel for, "the sense of place", as the locals like to call it.!

Having arrived in Chimayó, Sharon does her best to show me around and get a feel for, “the sense of place”, as the locals like to call it.! Here, we are about to enter the local chapel, as “it is all about faith & art here”, she likes to say!

 

... before starting off on our workshop, the first one in a series of workshops I am taking with Santa Fe Creative Tourism: Traditional Tin Smith Jewellery!

… before starting off on our workshop, the first one in a series of workshops I am taking with Santa Fe Creative Tourism here in New Mexico: Traditional Tin Smith Jewellery!

 

"Careful not to cut or hurt yourself": Sharon is a patient, and very professional, tutor who enjoys making her workshop participants feel comfortable.

“Careful not to cut or hurt yourself”: Sharon is a patient, professional tutor who enjoys making her workshop participants feel comfortable and at ease. Here, she demonstrates how to create a pattern in the piece we are making …

 

... soon looking like this!

… soon looking something like this!

 

Sharon's father too comes to say Hi and check on the fire for us, so that we are all warm and cosy!

Sharon’s father too comes to say Hi and check on the fire for us, so that we are all warm and cosy!

 

I just love Sharon's art creations, such as these "storytelling feathers" as she calls them ...

I just love Sharon’s art creations, such as these “storytelling feathers” as she calls them …

 

... or how about this one? "I used to create this in between clients' visiting my shop and gallery, it would have taken me several weeks if not months to finish", Sharon tells me with a wink.

… or how about this one? “I used to create this in between clients’ visiting my shop and gallery, it would have taken me several weeks if not months to finish”, Sharon tells me with a wink. A black-etched tin smithing masterpiece, I would say – none of which I have ever seen before!

 

Santa Fe Creative Tourism has worked really well for me“, she says upon asking her about previous workshop experiences with travellers from all over the world. “I often run classes, and I enjoy teaching. Certainly, through the website, people look at my video and get a better idea of what to expect.” If you are interested to hear & see even more of the exceptional art that Sharon is creating, please have a look at this video about “Traditional Tin Smithing with Sharon Candelario“:

 

The small town of Chimayó has another attraction though, and that is ...

The small town of Chimayó, besides the well-known sanctuary that you can see here, has another attraction though, and that is …

 

... Carlitos, also known as "The Chile Man", Sharon's dear brother!

… Carlitos, also known as “The Chile Man”, Sharon’s dear elder brother!

 

The way he creates this special chile tasting for me is simply one-of-a-kind, allowing you to taste pistachio nuts while using the shells as tiny serving bowls for the chile flavours he has mixed ...

The way he creates this special chile tasting for me is simply one-of-a-kind, allowing you to nibble some pistachio nuts while using the shells as tiny serving bowls for the chile flavours he has mixed …

 

... delicious, as it is, and not too spicy I find!

… delicious, as it is, and not too spicy! There goes my introduction into New Mexican flavours- not even 24 hours after landing in Santa Fe!

 

Love this license plate spotted across the road on a parked New Mexican car, too!

Love this license plate spotted across the road on a parked New Mexican car! “Land of Enchantment” it is … 😀

 

Same goes for my Jeep: I could get used to driving around like this each day while I am here ...!

Same goes for my Jeep: I could get used to driving around in style like this each day while I am here …!

 

“From Chimayó, take the High Mountain Road to Taos, and make sure to visit Taos Pueblo..!”

Travelling with the locals being one of my major themes for travel tips & inspiration here on this travel blog, I take care to “do as I am told”. You get so many wonderful ideas from just talking to people on the road! As I head on over the mountain slopes from Chimayó to Taos, I find myself listening to road songs on the radio – cheesy Spanish love songs, as it is here in New Mexico! Soon after, I drop down again and onto the foothills and plains of Taos, whose native American settlement Taos Pueblo regularly welcomes visitors to explore a vital part of United States history. Or did you know that even the city of Santa Fe, besides Taos Pueblo to the north, counts as the US’ second oldest and has a moving history of first Spanish, then American and of course also Native American settlement?

Coming onto Taos Pueblo, we are greeted by our young guide and aspiring environmental engineer Louis, whose 10+ character name in his native Tiwa language reads: ...

Coming onto Taos Pueblo, we are greeted by our young and friendly guide Luis, who besides being an aspiring environmental engineer can also boast a 10+ character name in his native Tiwa language that reads: Ba Coo Tha Pie Gooe, meaning “Red Star”!

 

Taos Pueblo has been settled by Pueblo Indians some estimated 1.000 years ago, at the foothills of these sacred Pueblo mountains in the background, about one and a half hours north of the city of Santa Fe.

Taos Pueblo has been settled by Pueblo Indians some estimated 1.000 years ago, at the foothills of these sacred Pueblo mountains in the background, about one and a half hours north of the city of Santa Fe.

 

Many of the houses here are traditionally made from adobe, providing for good insulation and easily available construction material.

Many of the houses here are traditionally made from adobe, providing for good insulation and easily available construction material.

 

Right next to it, Chiripada Winery Tasting Room in the city of Taos wins my attention, and so does Josh the winemaker, whose number is left on this gift-wrapped wine bottle!

Right next to it, Chiripada Winery Tasting Room in the city of Taos wins my attention, and so does Josh the winemaker, who has even left his number on this gift-wrapped wine bottle – “just in case”! 😀

 

Thanks for a nice visit and introduction to Northern New Mexico wine-growing, dear Josh!

Thanks for a nice visit and introduction to Northern New Mexico wine-growing here Josh!

 

Can't wait to do another road trip here!

The colour display on my evening drive back to Santa Fe tickles my senses … and my love for photography. Can’t wait to do another road trip here in beautiful New Mexico!

 

Looking for further inspiration on what to do & see in & around Santa Fe, New Mexico? Here is my hand-picked selection of creative foodie travel tips, as shown on this Flickr Photo Gallery:

Disclaimer: I have been invited by Santa Fe Creative Tourism to join Sharon Candelario’s Tin Smith Workshop. All opinions are my own.

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