Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My Guatemalan temari adventure

   On our recent trip to Guatemala, I was inspired to take some blank temari balls in the hopes of finding someone to put embroidery on them. Guatemala, of course, is justly famous for wonderful textiles including embroidery, but I've never seen it applied to a ball.
  We stayed about a week on Lake Atitlan. In Panajachel I found Berta Mendoza who was willing to try her hand on this project. She usually embroiders in the style of Santiago Atitlan, which is full of birds. I spent quite a few hours in Berta's shop with her and her daughter Sofia. Sofia is a university student studying child development and she lent a hand with the embroidering. Sofia also happens to speak three languages fluently and several others enough to function in the shop. Berta is somewhat more limited linguistically as she only speaks three languages. By the end of the week I was completely in awe of them.
  Besides talking about life in general and having many laughs, I showed them how to make temari and explained how they might make a good craft item to sell given the popularity of Christmas tree ornaments in North America.
  All the embroidery was done freehand without any reference material. The birds are rather whimsical—I wish these beautiful species really existed. This one looks a bit like a parrot.
 Below is a bird in flight on the other side of the same ball. Berta and Sofia took great pride in their work. I was surprised that they wanted to  carefully outline the birds because I thought they looked quite nice before that time consuming step. However I did agree after it was done that it added a lot.
A second ball I took was black and the birds they put on it were even more extravagant.
I'm looking forward to seeing Berta and Sofia on my next trip to Panajachel and to seeing in what direction they take temari balls. This project was an amazing way for me to make contact with real artisans and I'm very grateful for the experience.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful creative, colourful, full of life. Thank you. beveltic

Jane said...

Berta is wearing an amazing huipul. What a wonderful chance to interact with textile artists from another culture. Thank you for sharing.

Els said...

Oh, what a wonderful encounter with these embroidery artists !!!
It must have been fun to see the birds emerge on your temari balls ! I love your own precise temari balls but I love what these women did to them ;-)

Queen of the Tea Cosies said...

Oh LOOK! A picture of YOU! Love it.

I still take a peak you know.

Kalia said...

What a wonderful opportunity to connect and share with fiber artists in another country. You look like you really enjoyed your visit and being a temari ambassador. I look forward to seeing how their work in temari evolves.

Carolina said...

Thanks so much everyone!

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