Maria Doll Doors is a San Miguel de Allende-based art project bringing fun and folly to our infamous doors and our world-renown Otomi-made Maria dolls. While San Miguel de Allende features a huge art scene the Maria Doll Doors play on a smaller visual scale featuring tiny doors and Maria dolls decorated to fit inconspicuously into their surroundings.
The dolls and doors are a great way to explore the town and enjoy terrific services from food to horseback riding along the way!
Here is a recent interview with the editor of the San Miguel Times and Joseph Toone, the creator of Maria Doll Doors and author of six best-selling books in the San Miguel de Allende Secrets series. Toone is also TripAdvisor’s top-ranked private tour guide in town discovering the indigenous and Spanish roots to modern traditions.
How do you decide where to put a door?
Wherever I can or folks ask me to. If a business, I like doing all I can to pass more clients their way. If a private home, I want to give the owner a chuckle. What goes around comes around!
How do you make the doors?
Like with my tours and books, I take existing materials to create a fresh spin on what we pass by daily.
Are the doors for a cause?
‘Cause I can and they are an act of appreciation. The dolls have always been good to me and so have the businesses featured. I can only hope local entrepreneurs sell more dolls, doll cakes or even a home featuring doors a bit bigger.
Are there similar doors in other cities?
Yes, in Atlanta and from Perth to Peoria, but the Mexican Maria dolls are not featured in those cities due to visa issues.
I found a door! Is this one of your doors?
Probably, but I can only hope more folks have joined in the fun! Normally I include #JosephTooneTours with mine so folks can post their photos on Instagram and FaceBook.
Do the doors open?
Occasionally, sporadically, but that is not really the point. Maria’s hope is to spark folk’s creativity to wonder just what could be behind the door.
Why Mexican Maria dolls?
The Otomi-made Mexican Maria dolls have been good to me from way back when my kids were teens through being book cover models for what became the best-selling book series San Miguel de Allende Secrets. A gentleman always appreciates a lady’s help.
Why are the doors inside homes and businesses versus on the public streets?
Because the Marias are made from cloth and don’t handle the elements well so they tend to prefer the interior life.
Can I find the doll doors?
Of course (read Finding Maria Doll Doors)! Now, sometimes, if the residents don’t respect Maria she’ll move on but she does a thorough due diligence and is normally happy with folks that meet her requirements to maintain and support her presence. Finding Maria doors is a great scavenger hunt type of activity leading to lots of laughs and posts on Instagram and FaceBook under Joseph Toone Tours!
Why are the dolls called Marias?
In honor of the Virgin Mary. The lads are called Jose for her husband, St. Joseph.
Can I have a Maria doll?
Sure! The dolls are available from the Otomi doll sellers all over town and on-line. Natalia, outside Allende’s home on Umuran, is my personal favorite doll maker. If you want to have a doll door in your place contact their agent/curator through Joseph Toone Tours dot com.
Do businesses or homeowners pay to have a Maria door?
Of course not! Maria comes freely to anywhere she is asked to be.
Why is the Mexican Maria doll so popular?
Her current popularity certainly surprised me! I liked her and was happy to have her on book covers but never anticipated her current success. Today she is on shoes, purses and even a hot air balloon circling the globe having her photo taken next to landmarks like Big Ben, the pyramids and Sydney’s Opera House. You go girl!
How do Maria dolls change perspective?
I often tell folks to take a taxi or bus to places they walk to daily. The different heights offer different views of the town. When walking you have to watch both your step (we are called the City of Fallen Women for a reason, or two) and watch your head to not bump into a protruding window ledge. Being in a taxi or bus places your line of sight at a whole new angel viewing all sorts of previously unobserved art.
You could walk past Maria’s doll house doors for months and never see them. But to seek them out and find several is great fun!
What do you hope the Maria Doll Doors provide you?
Well, between us, I hope to one day receive a tiny key to the city!
by Joseph Toone
Joseph Toone is the Historical Society’s short-story award winning author of the SMA Secrets book series. All books in the series are Amazon bestsellers in Mexican Travel and Holidays. Toone is SMA’s expert and TripAdvisor’s top ranked historical tour guide telling the stories behind what we do in today’s SMA. Visit HistoryAndCultureWalkingTours.com, and JosephTooneTours.com.