"My dream is to see all my children become professionals, to learn a trade, and to continue working as artisans. Also, I'd like to save some money for my old age…."
"I was born on July 7, 1958. My parents were artisans who wove traditional handkerchiefs of cotton. Both the fiber and the technique were characteristic of my village in those days.
"My two brothers and I learned to weave on a traditional loom when we were still quite young. I was ten when I began to weave with my father and, when I was 14, I became independent. In those days, it wasn't like now when children go to school and help their parents in the afternoons. I had to work. The idea of not wanting to work didn't exist; it never occurred to me. In those days, if you didn't work, you'd get hit with a switch! We had little looms made to our size, and these were used to weave narrow textiles, as our arms weren't long enough to reach across a normal loom.
"Anyway, like I said, I learned to weave from my father, but then I worked as an apprentice for almost two years to perfect my technique. I also attended several training courses. Today I share what I've learned with my own children, with my brothers and my assistants.
"I remember my first design was a wool capixey, or sweater with motifs that were traditional in our area. We wear these a lot because at this altitude it's really cold and we have to bundle up. When I finished my first capixey, I took it to the market to sell and got eight quetzals for it. Back then it felt like a lot of money and I was so happy! I used the money to buy more materials to keep on working, and so I was able to create several more designs.
"Today, I weave rugs of wool and cotton, colored with natural and chemical dyes. I like to work with two different techniques to give my shoppers more variety. In one of the courses I attended, I learned to work with natural dyes. When I was able to understand the process, I was astonished at the diversity of colors that can be achieved fro nature's gifts. Nature is so vast and wise that she even gives us colors so we can continue working.
"I have my own workshop at home and we all weave on handlooms powered by foot pedals. At the beginning, it was really hard to establish myself as an artisan because I didn't have my own looms or a place to work. It's easier today because I have a place to weave and people who assist me, but it's a bit complicated, as the elders aren't spinning much anymore and the young people don't know how. The spinning process is fundamental so we can be able to weave, and the youth don't take pleasure in it anymore because it's difficult and poorly paid.
"I enjoy my art a lot for many reasons. One is that I don't have to work outside in bad weather or beneath the hot sun, like I'd have to in the fields. I'm busy in my workshop and if it rains, I can still work. And if it's sunny and hot, it doesn't matter, because it doesn't affect me inside my roofed workshop. Something else I enjoy is designing and weaving new rug styles, which is a tradition in my town, handed down for generations.
"To imagine and design new styles, I seek inspiration in God and I look deep inside me to do my work well. I spend the little bit of free time I have outdoors, enjoying life in the country, planting corn and taking care of the fields. I especially like soccer.
"My dream is to see all my children become professionals, to learn a trade, and to continue working as artisans. Also, I'd like to save some money for my old age when I can no longer work, and have money to live.
"My weavings have won several awards. I also feel very happy when shoppers recognize and like my rugs. On a couple of occasions, shoppers liked my work so much that they paid me more than I asked. It doesn't happen often, but it fills me with pride."