"What I like most about this art is working with people who make art a part of their working life and become master blown-glass artisans."
"My name is Alberto Ramirez and I create blown glass. I've worked in this art since I was 15 years old, helping artisans in different workshops and learning about this craft from them bit by bit.
"After working for so long, I wanted to start my own workshop. When I was young, an older neighbor asked me several times why I didn't start my own glass factory and I always replied that I needed a lot of money and hard work for that. Of course, this was when I was younger but, after getting married, my thinking changed since I needed to earn more. I also wanted to be an example to my family and friends, who had their own successful enterprises. It was a big motivator to improve myself and provide more for my family, which pushed me to venture out on my own.
"With effort, enthusiasm and the support of my wife, who not only encouraged me, but also helped buy a piece of land, we started to make this dream come true.
"After having a place to work, I needed material for the workshop, so I decided to look for used fireclay bricks. I went to a factory where I used to work because, after being in operation for 35 years, it had closed and was being dismantled. After I spoke with one of the partners, he decided to support my venture.
"With this help, I started out on my own in March of 2001. It was very difficult in the beginning since I had no experience in managing a workshop and I had only attended high school for three semesters. We managed to stay open for six months, but then had to close since we didn't have any work and I grew tired of not seeing any results. Some time later, my wife's friend put us in contact with a client and we were able to start working again without interruption.
"Our primary material is glass, which we buy from recyclers. We also get pigments from suppliers. What I like most about this art is working with people who make art a part of their working life and become master blown-glass artisans.
"Our greatest challenges are the high costs of gas and labor, since each piece involves 8 to 14 people to complete and several production lines in a complex process. But we can offer work to many people in the community and help them become skilled artisans, as none of our blown glass designs are machine-made.
"My brother helps me and we both train the artisans who work with us. We also design and participate in all the crafting processes.
"I dream of a bigger workshop in a better location and with better structure. I want to make my workshop one of the best in the country. Once I retire, my dream is to pass it on to good hands and keep the tradition of artisanal blown glass alive."