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Cuba’s madres (y padres) of invention

Since the communist revolution of 1959, Cuba has been on an economic rollercoaster. The country has lurched from dependency to self-sufficiency, in a bubble of isolation where technological time stopped. Our correspondent visits the artists and self-taught engineers who have kept Cuba running throughout its bizarre ride.

Story and photography by ROB WATERS

Can Pátzcuaro and Surrounding Colonial Crafts Towns Survive Modern Mexico?

In the 1500s, a Spanish bishop turned a collection of pueblos around the Mexican town of Patzcuaro into a center for craftsmanship. The people here are still making and marketing their wares in much the same way they did hundreds of years ago. Now they have to overcome tourists’ fears about drug traffickers, real or not.

Story by LAURA FRASER
Photography by JANET JARMAN

An Artisanal Tour of Michoacán — with 18 Towns Devoted to Ancient Crafts

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to find the indigenous artists outside of Pátzcuaro without a guide. We went with Jaime Hernández Balderas, from animecha tours, animechatours@yahoo.com. He is a native of Pátzcuaro, knowledgeable about the history and crafts, and speaks excellent English. Expect to pay about 2000 pesos a day for a guide ($120). Local…

Real Shaving: a Gift Guide

If you’re curious about the offerings beyond (or before) today’s over-priced, plasticized, landfill clogging shaving gear, we’ve got you covered. A collector of traditional shaving tools, and a prolific writer on the topic, offers a primer—and some very wise buying tips. Male readers in particular, beware: It is very easy to get hooked on this stuff.

By MICHAEL HAM

The Puppeteer

Michael Montenegro is driven to put the products of his imagination into tangible, active forms. After he builds them—often in life-size form, with a rag-tag collage of materials—he becomes them, lives inside them, then delivers them to us with a zany vigor.

By LORI ROTENBERK

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