Andres Perez - Handwoven cotton scarves and handbags
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"My father and my new teacher in Totonicapán opened my eyes in order to learn the important things, as well as prepared me to become a good teacher to others."
"I was born in a small village near Atitlan Lake on November 30, 1967, and when I was eight years old my father thought it was time to learn to weave on a pedal loom, just like he did. I was amazed and enthralled with the whole process! From that day on, I would go to school in the mornings and practice my weaving techniques in the afternoon, by my father's side.
"When I finished elementary school, dad gave me the choice of moving to another region to learn to weave more professionally, that is, to learn innovative weaving techniques always searching for higher quality. My father and my new teacher in Totonicapán opened my eyes in order to learn the important things, as well as prepared me to become a good teacher to others.
"When I returned home my dad made me a partner in my village's weavers cooperative – I was partner number 109! I wove traditional textiles for many years, until the board of directors named me assistant accountant, a post I held for nine years.
"The job of an assistant accountant for the cooperative was very demanding and the pay wasn't good. By then I was married and had two children and I could hardly support them with my salary. In 2002 my financial situation was dire and my father approached me to suggest I returned to weaving. I decided to approach the board of directors and ask for a raise, which they ignored so I resigned and decided to set up my own workshop.
"The first thing I did as an independent weaver was to design 12 sets of placemats and six scarves. I contacted several companies to make appointments to show them my designs and the quality of my work.
"My dream is to offer my children a better education and when they graduate they can join me in my venture. It would be fabulous if they could inherit the venture that I started, just like I did from my father. I have two daughters and a son and I hope that, just like I got interested in the art of weaving because of my dad, they too will one day continue with this legacy that I bequeath when I can no longer weave.
"I also enjoy teaching what I have learnt through the years. I have taught the art of weaving to over 80 people and now I dedicate most of my time to designing new colors with natural dyes, innovate weaving techniques and supervise apprentices.
"My inspiration comes from the different seasons that nature offers us. I also try to get the most from my experience from working with international designers when they visit us. From them I update the shades of colors to cater for international tastes.
"What I enjoy the most is to combine colors, but working the sizes in millimeters to obtain the perfect combinations is a real challenge for me. There's no greater satisfaction than to see a finished product, and that people like it.
"My products are associated with the history of Guatemala in various ways, for example our ancestors used to place the tortillas in a square holder woven by the women on a back strap loom. Now, that same tortilla holder is used as a placemat or napkin. Colors are much more modern and vibrant, but the function remains the same."
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