Collecting Don´s wooden sculptures

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Collecting Don´s sculptures in wood can be very exciting and entertaining. Through the years I accumulated quite a few pieces and I enjoy very much having them around. Don inspired himself from Mexican folklore and designed remarkable pieces that would represent bats, scorpions and other symbolic animals from the Mexican Pre-Hispanic period. These works of art were made with different kinds of woods from the region, sometimes inlaid with colored stones, sometimes just nicely carved.

 Don´s box designs from the “Animal” Series were also quite unique. Some time ago, in one of my posts I already showed you the “Owl” box; here we have a nice sample of his “Hippopotamus” box:

 Don´s imagination and creativity was also inspired by organic forms, female curves and hands:

All of the above pictured pieces carry the decal studio label. There are of course many other interesting works that I could present from Don´s sculptural creations, however, I have only selected a few examples to prevent forgers from trying to copycat his designs.


Copyright © 2010-2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved.


The palo fierro dominoes sets from the Seri Natives

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Some time ago I published a post on Don S. Shoemaker´s dominoes sets. These game sets were made in 2 different versions: the “tronco” (organic design box) and the boxed sliding lid models; the former also had a first series with a matching wood lid and the ones produced by George with a see-thru fiberglass lid.

This time I have to bring your attention to these wonderful Mexican handcraft dominoes sets made in ironwood (“palo fierro” for the locals) by the Seri Natives in the northern state of Sonora, Mexico. The “palo fierro” handcrafts include boxes, sculptures, jewelry, etc., they are of a great artistic value and a source of income for this isolated community. So, I ask the help of all my readers to buy these look-alike dominoes sets and the other handicrafts directly from them and help also to stop the swindlers that are selling these dominoes sets as Don S. Shoemaker originals.

Take a close look at the differences between an authentic Don S. Shoemaker “tronco” dominoes box vs. the beautiful dominoes set interpretation from the Seri natives:

The Don S. Shoemaker “tronco” dominoes set:

  • Don never used ironwood (see box below)
  • The tile dots are made in silver, hollowed and sometimes engraved lines (see 2nd picture below)
  • The box always carries the decal studio label



The Seri Natives dominoes sets handcraft:

  • They use ironwood for all their handicrafts
  • The tile dots are painted in white (see picture below)
  • You may also find a “deluxe model” with plain silver dots
  • You can also engrave the name of your brother, friend, etc. for a special gift (Mercado Libre “EBAY MEXICO” search palo fierro – see ad below)
  • It is important to know that I do not endorse any of the sites advertising these handcrafts. But, the only way that I thought we could stop this new wave of alleged “Shoemaker dominoes sets” (that I have seen in galleries, auction houses and weekend flea markets going for $ 300 USD and more) is to buy directly from the producers of these sets knowing that we are not going to get a Shoemaker for $ 12 bucks but we are going to help the Seri natives in Sonora and they are going to be grateful.



Don is going to be proud of you guys because as you know, he was always involved in Charity programs.

Copyright © 2010 – 2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved.

Treasures for your dinner service from Don´s Gift Line

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There always was this magical atmosphere in Don´s studio/home, it felt like being a child in a big toy store every time we visited him. To resist his delightful Gift Line collection was virtually impossible, no matter how, the discovery of a new piece or gadget that could match with something I already had at home came in the way. The following 1980’s vintage Gift Line catalog page with Don´s image on it brings great memories back to life!

I recently described in my posts “Home Bar Essentials” and “Accessories for every occasion” some of Don´s tropical woods trays, chopping and cheese boards, coasters, salt & pepper shakers, etc. This time I want to point out on his gourmet designs which were particularly charming and definitively making the difference when decorating your dinner table. Here two of my favorites…

For many years I have enjoyed serving my meals with these Don S. Shoemaker Pyrex holders produced in solid cueramo tropical wood:

We love Mexican cuisine but we also enjoy very much Asian food, chopsticks are a must for fine tableware. This set of 6 chopsticks with chopstick rests were made in solid cocobolo tropical wood, the set is absolutely gorgeous:

Copyright © 2010 – 2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved.


Don´s Gift Line – Home Bar Essentials

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Sometime ago I already mentioned in one of my posts that Don had an extensive and very creative “Gift Line”. This Gift Line included all sort of articles for any thinkable occasion: presents, boxes, toys, sculptures, games, bar and gourmet accessories, desk utensils, organic designs, decorative objects, painter tools, jewelry, etc. You would always discover and buy something for yourself or for someone else when looking around the shop. Most of the times when we visited Don in Santa Maria de Guido I carried wish lists from my relatives with all the goodies I had to bring back home from SEÑAL, S.A.

One of Don´s specialties were his Bar and Gourmet Accessories. He would argument that no matter how you serve drinks and cocktails there are some essentials that no well-stocked home bar, no matter how idiosyncratic, should be without. The Shoemaker equipment in any serious home bar should include: at least one or two cut boards, napkin holders, a salt & pepper set, two sets of coasters and many ashtrays among others to make your guests feel very comfortable. (Don also designed a complete bar furniture line, but I will address this subject some time in a near future).

So, I have made a selection of some the Shoemaker gadgets that I use in our home bar for you:

  • A cut board and a cheeseboard made in solid tropical woods (striped design including white mahogany, cueramo and other local rosewood species):

  • Salt & Pepper Set – “Elephant model. Don designed several salt & pepper sets, this was our choice made in cocobolo tropical wood:


  • Napkin holder made in solid cueramo, cocobolo and other local rosewood species:

  • Matching set of 6 coasters made in cueramo tropical wood and mahogany, a cocobolo ashtray and a set of teabag holders:

Copyright © 2010 – 2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved.

A Christmas present

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This time I would like to share with all of you a couple of very unusual wood carvings that are extremely difficult to find, maybe one of a kind… These rare carvings were made by Don S. Shoemaker in black oak wood (encina negra) back in the early 1960’s, representing local Indian women from the Michoacan state, Mexico.

These two black oak wood carvings were separated for more than 25 years and they were both Christmas presents. Today I can tell you that they represent Michoacan women but for a long time one of these was believed to be a carving representation of the Virgin Mary.

The story is funny: long time ago my in law´s arrived unexpectedly during Christmas time to pay a visit to Don and they brought some presents for him and of course, he was empty handed because he had no idea they were going to show… While they were at his studio my mother in law saw one of the plaques and she exclaimed: “Oh what a beautiful Virgin!!”  Don immediately said that he was carving it for her for Christmas, my mother in law was so happy.

Time went by and my husband and I used to visit Don´s studio to buy Christmas presents and during his last Christmas while we were snooping around Don saw the other carving that he had kept for 20 some years and he told me the whole story. That was the last Christmas present I got from him. Finally, the two  wood carvings were reunited. That happened more than 20 years ago…

Merry Christmas to all of you!

Copyright © 2010-2017 Karin Goyer. All rights Reserved

Exotic woods folding tables

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Don always envisioned that his furniture designs had to be able to fulfill the expectations of the owner of a small flat as well as a large city home or a luxurious Mexican hacienda. The SEÑAL, S.A. folding tables are a good example of his creativity around space improvements.

These small portable tables produced in tropical woods (“cueramo” combined with designs including local rosewood variants, “primavera” and mahogany) are extremely versatile, folded and stored away easily.

During our many good times together in Santa Maria de Guido I picked several of them to furnish our homes, and they have served me very well all these years not only because they are very handy but also because they look terrific anywhere indoors or at my terrace for the afternoon snack. Some samples:

Folding Table designed by Don S. Shoemaker (1960's)

Folding Table by Don S. Shoemaker

Copyright © 2010-2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved

Accessories for every occasion

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Don never wasted an inch of his precious woods, everything ended up in his creative laboratory. He magically converted remaining small tropical wood pieces into bar and gourmet accessories, desk utensils, organic designs, decorative objects, gifts, painter tools, jewelry, etc. It was an adventure to take a tour around Don´s shop and hunt for exotic wood accessories.

I am especially fond of Don´s parquetry service trays. They are a fundamental accessory to our bar at home. Below, two service trays from my personal collection made in tropical woods with decal studio label.

This capricious design of a nut cracker made in walnut wood is a very nice decorative piece, which I took with me during one of our many weekends together with Don at SEÑAL, S.A.

Copyright © 2010-2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved

Playing dominoes with style

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A set of dominoes is a must for the weekend with good friends. During one of our visits to Santa Maria de Guido I had to have one of Don´s most precious box of dominoes… Many great looking pieces were available at the time, the one I finally decided to take with me included a gorgeous cocobolo wood box with a set of dominoes made in cocobolo wood as well, with silver dots!  Nothing compares to this delightful games set, it is always a great feeling to be the envy of all my friends when we get together to play dominoes.

The same set of dominoes could also be purchased with a great looking box made in tropical woods from Don´s organic designs. An interesting piece for games sets  collectors.

• Box of dominoes - organic design

Copyright © 2010-2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved

Boxes for all kind of trinkets

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Don S. Shoemaker tropical woods boxes are well known. I have seen them on the web and on display in vintage boutiques in Mexico. They were mainly produced in rosewood, in different designs and shapes, many of them include elaborate parquetry work in cueramo, cocobolo, granadilla, white mahogany and many other rare tropical wood species. Don´s shop always had a complete assortment of boxes for all possible purposes you could image.

I am including some pictures of a set of boxes from my personal collection, a sample of a typical Don S. Shoemaker parquetry box and a very original “Egyptian Falcon box”. One evening in Santa Maria Guido while talking about all kind of birds and magical creatures, I said that I loved birds of pray, Don stood up and came back with this astonishing Egyptian falcon box. What a gift!

Copyright © 2010-2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved

A rare coffer in solid tropical wood

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This time I am pleased to share with you another rare piece of furniture of my personal collection:

An overwhelming coffer model, one of the very few produced at SEÑAL, S.A. Very heavy, made in solid “cueramo”, a rosewood variant. As far as I know, only two of these exist.

You can view the coffer from the outside and also from the inside. A good amount of tropical wood was required to produce this outstanding piece of furniture!  The coffer is quiet large. I am sorry, but I will withhold information about the measures and the bottom of the coffer to prevent new copies. Notice that the wood inside face has a much lighter color than the outside, as the sunlight darkens the wood providing what you call an age patina.

Copyright © 2010-2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved

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