While I love my line of work and want to get as many people as possible into STEM fields, I have a strong appreciation for the artisans who are masters of their crafts and have passed the skills down throughout the generations.
Earlier this week, I had a chance to visit the artisans (Maestros) of San Bartolome, Gualaceo, and Chordeleg. These are family businesses where the products are made by hand, they are not mass-produced. Watching the Maestros and members of their families work with raw materials and make pieces one-by-one, was a treat. It was wonderful to visit the Uyaguari family, who make guitars and other string instruments … by hand. Not only do they look gorgeous (some include decorations with shells of fish, and even armadillos), but their sound is just beautiful.
During the visit to Chordeleg, I was introduced to another artisan, the Maestro of the Filigrana Jewelry, Jorge Lituma and his son Wilson. The Filigrana process takes large pieces of silver, and reduces them to thin threads. The threads are then twisted and made into very intricate designs. Here are some samples of the work of Maestro Lituma: http://litumapelaezlabs.blogspot.com/. If you ever get a chance to visit, take some extra funds. This is a place where you can get some beautiful jewelry at a very reasonable rate. It’s true that purchasing from the Maestro directly will get you a better deal than those that you will find in the town plaza of Chordeleg. So my advice is, if you see something that you like and if it is in your budget, get it from the Maestro’s Taller (workshop). For more information: Filigrana Jewelry: http://www.elmercurio.com.ec/217593-chordeleg-cuna-de-las-artesanias/#.UtrNrbROnIU
The ceramics workshop was within the home of Maestro Fernando Loja and his wife. The Lojas make the figurines large and small, depicting life in Ecuador. They form the clay, mix the paints, paint the products, and make the clothing for the figurines. They make people, animals, and elaborate scenes. The workshop is in the place of a traditional dining room and living room, within the home.
Those who know me know that I love scarves and shawls, so I really enjoyed the visit to see Maestro José Jiménez, the master weaver. His wife and daughter also participate in the process by adding intricately beautiful knotted designs to the shawls. I was fascinated by the raw materials. The shawls are made from raw cotton, and the fibers of plants. The colors are made from plants, insects, and fruits. The following photos show the Maestro at work, and the workshop.
The Maestro was very kind to me, and I now have in my possession one of his works, a blue and white bufanda (scarf) that I happily broke in on the streets of Cuenca this week.
I enjoyed visiting the Artisans of San Bartolome, Chordeleg, and Gualaceo. I hope that this wonderful level of quality craftsmanship continues.