Milagros: the London home of Mexican folk art & tiles

Located in the heart of Columbia Road, Milagro (meaning ‘miracles’) is a treasure trove of vibrant Mexican art. Since the 1990s, the shop has featured the very best in traditional Mexican art from individual artists, bringing customers contemporary designs that still embody the 2,000-year history of this vast and diverse country. Here, you’ll find everything from colourful handmade tile and recycled glassware to offbeat papier-mâché folk art.

Traditional art and contemporary design

With its European and indigenous American roots, Mexico has a unique and strong cultural identity. Nowhere is this more evident than in its art. Infused with colour, Mexican art is both beautiful and intriguing. Since becoming captivated by the country and its art nearly 30 years ago, the man behind Milagro, Tom Bloom, has been travelling to Mexico and bringing back the finest examples of its local art. Today, he and his partner, Juliette, continue to sell a range of pieces that combine the traditional and the contemporary.

Mexican tile

There is nothing quite like bold and beautiful Mexican tiles to add a touch of rustic charm to a room. First used as architectural decoration in Egypt around 400 BC, tile-making techniques were brought to Mexico by the Spanish approximately 500 years ago. Today, Milagros imports glazed terracotta wall tiles made in a family workshop that employs traditional tile-making techniques, involving digging the clay, rolling and cutting it by hand, and firing it in a kiln. The tiles are then glazed, decorated and re-fired. The range offered by Milagros includes 30 different colours and nearly 60 decorative designs. The fact that the tiles are all handmade means each is a true one-off, featuring slight colour variations and differences in size. Such is the quality of the range, Milagros has supplied tiles to several leading restaurant chains in London, including Jamie’s Italian and Las Iguanas.

Recycled glassware

Milagros features a selection of glassware that is made from old bottles and other discarded glass, which is melted down and mouthblown, giving it a second life as a beautiful jug, vase, or drinking glass. The glass is shaped using traditional techniques, ensuring each piece features its own unique ripples and distortions. The five ranges include both clear and coloured pieces, including an exquisite selection of two-tone glassware.

Papel picado

Paper plays a significant role in Mexican art and at Milagros, you’ll find examples of papel picado (or ‘paper cuts’). These are colourful paper streamers that are hung across the street at times of celebration, such as birthdays, weddings and national holidays. Made from layers of tissue paper, the origins of these decorations stretch back 1,400 years. If you’d like to bring a simple touch of Mexico into your home, you could hang the papel picado inside for celebrations or as a decorative touch to a staircase or child’s room.

Papier-mâché

This is where things take a weird and wonderful turn! Papier-mâché folk art sculptures featuring skulls, skeletons, devils, animals and bizarre creatures are a common feature of Mexican festivals, such as the Day of the Dead (‘Día de Muertos’), which is celebrated across the country. Traditionally, these sculptures decorate homes and altarpieces and can provide a real centrepiece to any room.

Tin

Tin has a very interesting history in Mexico, which begins in 1824 in, of all places, Cornwall in England! Cornish miners sailed to Mexico in order to mine this cheap, lightweight metal. These early visitors left their mark on the country, introducing football and that pastry and meat delicacy, the Cornish pasty, to the locals. Today, tin can be found incorporated into mirrors and jewellery, as well as small decorations (also ‘milagros’) that were traditionally used to adorn church walls.

Discover more at Milagros

This is just an introduction to the delights you’ll discover at Milagros. You’ll find plenty more to brighten up your home, including handwoven baskets, colourful pottery, and Acapulco chairs. So, why not pay a visit to Milagros and enjoy the very best in Mexican folk art in London. Come on a Sunday and you can also enjoy the flower market, which transforms Columbia Road into an oasis of blooms and greenery.

Milagros is open from 12pm to 5pm on Saturday and 9am to 4pm on Sunday (other times by appointment). The nearest Tube stations are Hoxton and Bethnal Green. Find out more at: https://www.milagros.co.uk.