Posted by Mary Anne Wise on November 30, 2016
One of the most wonderful things I have done this year is to partner with Reyna Pretzantzin, director of Multicolores, and Sarah Brown, an embroidery artist in the UK and founder of St Luce Stitch, to teach a new group of Guatemalan women embroidery and to guide them to develop items that they can sell to make money that supports their families.
The first session was conducted in Sept in Panajachel. The group of women ranged in ages, some were beginning embroiders and some were accomplished practitioners and a couple of them had little formal education but they had all heard of the success of the women rug hookers and they wanted a chance to make a better life for their families. Click here to see the complete story about the first session.
In the first workshop they learned 16 stitches and began to think about designing products that people might want to purchase. Before the women left the workshop, they were given homework to practice their stitches and make a servietta, a napkin that is used to wrap warm tortillas. To kick-off the second session, the women shared their homework. Their work is amazing. They did everything they were asked to do. They incorporated lots of stitches. They used color to add interest.
Elvira from Sumpango, an experienced embroiderer, produced this elaborately
embellished servietta as homework. Understandably, she asks "is there a market for servietta’s like this because I put a lot of work into this!” It’s a great question and one everyone else is interested in, too.
I tell her there is a very limited market for servietta’s like this but if it were an evening bag? The market is much larger. Next she wonders, "can you help me turn this in to an evening bag?”
As a starting point, we reviewed the expectations for this next week. We wrote the expectations on a big piece of paper. This was their list: improve my stitches; learn design; learn how to combine colors; talk about how we’ll get paid for our products; how to use my stitches creatively; learn good skills; understand what kind of products we’re going to make in this class. They have their work cut out for them. They are ambitious.
Since the women have little drawing experience, we decided that the first product they would make would be a doll. Dolls can be simple and dolls can be human or animal. The women are familiar with dolls and they could use the used fabric locally available at the pacas as material. We explained to the women that we think we can sell the dolls that they make.
Sarah talked about the possible pitfalls when making a doll. She suggested that “we begin with a two-sided doll that doesn’t have extending arms or legs, because that quickly complicates the construction process.
She uses examples of dolls I’ve brought to class to demonstrate her points and draws a quick pattern on paper to discuss some of the things that can “go wrong”. She reminds everyone that the dimensions of the front and back need to be the same.
The women worked hard all week. Here are 8 of the dolls that were completed during the week workshop. The women were so excited. I volunteered to bring these dolls back to the shop and offer them for sale. They will be in the shop on Saturday, Dec 3. If you can’t make it to Maiden Rock this weekend, we are happy to ground ship at no cost.
Click here for more information on the Multicolores Embroidery Group.