Many households include needlework, ceramics, paintings and other utilitarian or decorative items once carried over borders or across oceans by your or your neighbor’s ancestors. And the creative techniques came with them. Try these DIY adaptations of Mexican Otomi art in your living room.

Otomi inspired living room overall

Whimsical shapes of animals and flowers mark the richly embroidered textiles of Mexico’s Otomi people. That art translates here into embroidered pillows and drapery panels, an upholstered ottoman, painted coasters and a flower-covered lampshade—all presented as design partners to a bright turquoise wall.

Flower decked lampshade

Bring hot hues to eye level with a floral lampshade that takes 30 minutes or less to make. Snip the stems from bright silk flowers, leaving just enough plastic to hold petals together. Biggest blooms first, attach the flowers to the center of the lampshade with hot glue. Fill in gaps with smaller blossoms.

Decorated vase

Bring some flair to a plain white vase with Otomi botanical motifs and ceramic markers. See how to create a permanent design here.

Otomi inspired coasters

Create vividly animated coasters with acrylic paint markers and craft wood squares. Here’s how to do it.

Materials for coasters

What You’ll Need

  • 4-inch-square craft wood pieces
  • Sandpaper, fine grit
  • White spray paint
  • Pencil
  • Acrylic paint markers
  • Spray-on finish sealer
  • Cork sheet
  • Scissors
  • Spray adhesive

Sand any rough spots or edges from the craft wood. Spray with white paint and let dry. Lightly sand again and wipe clean. Spray a second coat of paint and let dry.

Find design inspiration in online clip art or vintage Mexican Otomi motifs. Lightly draw the outlines of your design on the painted wood in pencil.

Coaster tracings

Using a black acrylic marker, outline your design. Paint colors onto your motif using a variety of bright hues within the black outlines. Let dry.

Spray finish sealer on the top and sides of the wood and let dry.

Trace the wood onto a sheet of cork and cut out the square. Coat the backside of the wood piece with adhesive spray. Lay the piece of cork on the back of the wood, press in place and leave something heavy on top of coaster to help secure the connection.

Paper flowers on wall

Hang floral cutouts inspired by Otomi motifs on the wall. It’s a simple way to add pattern to a plain surface. Find Otomi botanical clip art online; enlarge and print as desired. With a craft knife or scissors, cut out the shapes and trace them onto patterned cardstock. Cut the shapes out of the cardstock and, with a hole-punch, cut a hole into the top edge of each shape. Thread a length of monofilament through the hole and tie a knot. At the other end of the line, tie a knot onto the shaft of a decorative thumb tack. Arrange the shapes on the wall to your liking and press the tacks into the wall to secure.

Pallet ottoman and cushion

Use Otomi-inspired fabric—or the real deal—to make a festive cushion cover for a pallet-wood ottoman. If you don’t have a local source, order online from Etsy, Spoonflower, Hygge & West or Zinnia Folk Arts. (Our cushion needed 1½ yards.) Here’s how we made the pallet ottoman and embroidered cushion.

For the Ottoman You’ll Need

  • Pallet
  • Sandpaper, medium grit
  • Tack cloth
  • Wood stain in desired color
  • Paintbrush
  • Polycrylic sealer in clear satin
  • Large swiveling casters

Scrub the pallet with soap and water, rinse and let dry. Sand the wood to remove splinters. Wipe clean with a tack cloth. Brush desired stain color onto all surfaces; let dry. Brush on clear satin sealer; let dry. Invert the pallet; use jumbo screws to attach heavy-duty casters to each corner (opt for lockable wheels to keep your footrest stable). Flip over and top with a box cushion.

Otomi fabric covered ottoman

For the Cushion You’ll Need

  • Cushion or foam
  • Serrated bread knife
  • Fabric (canvas or upholstery weight works best)
  • Fabric measuring tape
  • Marking pencil
  • Coordinating thread
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine

Using a serrated bread knife, trim the foam to match size of your ottoman. To determine the length of fabric you’ll need, wrap the fabric measuring tape around the foam’s “waist” (like you’re putting ribbon on a gift) and add an inch to the total measurement. Repeat the process around the middle of the long part of the foam, cut that measurement in half and add an inch. That’s the width.

Use these measurements to cut your fabric to size once you’ve determined the best placement for any pattern (for example, we wanted our animal pairs to have pride of place). On the wrong side of the fabric, at the cut edges, mark which are the width edges and which are the length edges.

Fold the fabric in half, right sides together, aligning the width edges. With a ½-inch seam allowance, sew the length edges together. Sew the width edges together, leaving an opening in the seam of one side equal to three-quarters the width of the foam.

Insert the box-edge foam into the cover (still right sides together). Pin the opening closed. Pinch the excess fabric at each corner together to create a triangle, the top of which is pointing away from the cushion. Pin through the layers of fabric, close and parallel to the corner edge of the foam, along the base of the triangle. This is the stitching line that will create the boxed shape. Pin all four corners the same way. Remove the closing pins and the foam from the cover. Sew the corners, following the line of pins, removing them as you go. Trim the excess triangle fabric to ½ inch from the seam. Turn the cushion right side out and insert the foam into the cover. Hand-stitch the opening closed to complete a box-edge cushion cover.

Embroidered pillows

Buy an extra half-yard of the material for your ottoman cushion for a matching throw pillow! Pair it with vividly patterned pillows that share a common hue like the turquoise that echoes the wall color.


© Caruth Studio

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