Collecting and creating comes naturally to the Mora family of Lake Elsinore in California.
Step inside their shop on Main Street to see the evidence: Pillows sewn by Vicki Mora out of antique Mexican textiles decorate a leather lounge chair. Bracelets and other jewelry made by her daughter out of turquoise and other gems adorn a display case. A surprise gallery of Day of the Dead sculptures created by Vicki's son out of recycled wood and other materials awaits you in the back.
The shop is called Mora's Antiques, but this, I assure you, is not your typical antique store.
Nooks and crannies
Nooks and crannies are filled with antique treasures of all kinds, many the result of the thirty-some years that Vicki and her husband, Gilbert, have spent collecting Mexican folk art and other vintage goods. Vicki, a former bank employee, and Gilbert own the store, along with their daughter, Jaymie.
vintage goods vintage goods
"We like the Mexican things because of the artwork, the history, the very rich colors," says Jaymie, whose grandfather is Mexican. "The amount of work that goes into it is amazing."
mount of work
It is Jaymie's creativity that elevates the store's displays to artistic proportions. She can take a simple Virgin Mary sculpture, drape it with a vintage doily to create a shawl, and top it with a crown made from a piece of metal that "was just lying around." A few more touches, and voila, her finished creation (next to the angel, in the middle):
"I just see a piece and I visualize it," Jaymie tells me.
Jaymie, who also creates jewelry, has no artistic training, but simply a talent and great intuition for her daring mix of styles from modernistic to primitive, French to Mexican, and rough with delicate materials. She credits the 10 years she spent working for Nordstrom with teaching her the necessary visual merchandising skills she now uses in creating the store's interesting vignettes.
Chad Mora, Jaymie's brother, also has no formal artistic education and is an artist only when he can squeeze it in between his full-time job and his responsibilities as the father of three. But his Day of the Dead artwork is clearly museum-quality. His sculptures fill a back room that he's converted into a small gallery using materials from an old shed on his grandparent's home.
Chad uses recycled materials and other found pieces to create everything from foot-tall crosses to a life-size "Adelita" (female Mexican Revolution soldier) bearing a rifle that looked so realistic to a gun collector that he inquired about buying just the gun, not realizing it was made out of pipes and other such materials.
A life-size Adelita greets visitors to Chad Mora's gallery
Chad sells his sculptures for about $75 to $6,500
Irreverence marks much of the Day of the Dead artwork
Clearly, Day of the Dead artwork is not for everyone. Many customers, not familiar with the Mexican holiday which celebrates and honors dead loved ones, tell the shop owners they are uncomfortable around the sculptures of skulls and skeletons.
But that is
But with its eclectic offerings, Mora's has other things sure to appeal to most antique shoppers. Jaymie believes their diverse wares are the reason why Mora's Antiques, which first opened five years ago two doors down from its current location, appears to be growing in popularity when other antique shops are suffering from a sour economy.
due to a sour
"We're starting to get a big following," Jaymie says.