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Mexican furniture manufacturing Equipale

The manufacture of Equipale Mexican Furniture dates back to pre-Hispanic times. It is considered an object of a religious type and represents a social status.

Exceptionally, the furniture of Mexican Equipales is still made in the traditional way. They are still made with ‘rosewood’ just like the original equipments. Wood is cut on a full moon because wood is believed to be the hardest then. The Equipales furniture is made with leather, wood and “ixtle” a derivative of the cactus.

Families have made Equipales since Hueman, the Aztec shamon taught the ‘Equipalera’ technique of the gods to the first settlers. Today, Equipales links the mythical past to a modern cultural icon.

Traditionally, the equipment frame is joined with ixtle, a type of plant fiber extracted from the maguey cactus. The seat is also tied with this fiber. The procedure for preparing and spinning ixtle was learned from its ancestors: it is extracted with cazanga, washed, dried, barabilla and spun. The reeds and leather adhere to the cinco de maguey. Pigskin is often preferred because it is porous and allows air to circulate.

Equipal Leather furniture can last up to twenty years or more:

  • The structure begins with a lattice of crossed slats. These are tied up and down to bend pieces of wood. This basic shape makes the chair lightweight yet flexible and able to withstand rough use. The wooden slats are traditionally split, but now they are cut with a band saw; less waste this way. Blanks for splints are made and molded with a machete and paring knife into pointed slats with notches at each end for binding
  • The base is a thin (3/8 “x 3”) piece of wood folded into an “O” or “D” shape.
  • The seat frame is the same shape but made of bent willow. The slats cross each other and are tied at the top and bottom with a string.
  • These ties are cemented with a black adhesive that used to be vegetable gum, but today it can be asphalt or even spray. The seat has three layers. The first is made with a random weave of maguey fiber wrapped around the bentwood seat frame. On this is placed a braided cane seat that has been flattened. On top of these, a piece of soaked leather is stretched and sewn or stapled to the edge of the bentwood seat.
    • The back is made by tying willow posts to the seat frame and folding willow pieces over the supports for a continuous arm and back. Another piece of leather is stretched around this back and over the arms and is stitched or stapled.
    • Once dry, the leather stretches tightly over the hole, giving it a cozy and comfortable look, in contrast to the rougher wooden slats below. On higher priced chairs, the seat and back are filled with foam to give the chair an upholstered look and feel.
    • The real skill lies in assembling, lashing and nailing the pieces.

This more elaborate construction is made with the simplest tools, a machete, a knife and a hammer. There are new versions as Mexican designers and manufacturers are working hard to adapt to all tastes in the Mexican furniture of Equipale.

Equipale FurniturE includes pigskin barrel chairs, end tables, bar tables, coffee tables, peacock chairs, children’s barrel chairs, square foot stools, rectangular tables, bar stools, sofas and much more. Do not hesitate to contact me when you need or want. I am always more than happy to help.

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