This week we are starting something I think you will really love. Over the span of the next year we will be interviewing each of our women artisans, the women who are responsible for hand-painting Azulina's ceramic dinnerware.
Spending time with them reminds me why I do what I do and why it is so important that we invest in maintaining artistic traditions and supporting small communities. Without further ado, I would like to introduce you to our first interviewee, Graciela...
How long have you worked in the ceramics industry here in El Carmen?
How about here in this factory where we make Azulina?
Do you have a special childhood memory or story that involves the ceramics industry in El Carmen?
When I was a little girl I would always walk down a path we call El Chapa on my way to school. There I would stop to watch the women paint [ceramic pottery]. And I always thought to myself, "It would be so neat to become a painter when I grow up." But the company where I always dreamed of working closed down.
When I turned 13 I started to look for work with my sister Flor at a company called El Condor, with permission in hand from the mayor's office allowing us to work as minors. The owner, Ms. Belarmina, told us that she needed painters and that if we could paint flowers, she would let us stay, but if not, we couldn't. My sister and I sat down on the stair steps outside and we started to paint flowers with sponge brushes. As soon as Ms. Belarmina saw the flowers we had painted she liked them so much that she hired us on the spot.
I worked there until I was 17, when I got married. After I had kids and they were grown I returned to work as a painter in another factory called El Capiro.
Do you have family that works in the ceramics industry in El Carmen?
Yes. My sisters Flor and Margarita, my nieces Sindy and Andrea, my daughter Bibiana and my daughter-in-law Sandra Martiza.
What is your favorite design to paint?
I like to paint all of them! The important thing is to have the time to paint each one with dedication, but I like to paint all of them.
How do you feel about Azulina exporting ceramics from El Carmen to the US?
I think it is una maravilla (it is wonderful). God willing this helps us to generate more and never-ending employment.
What dreams do you have for El Carmen and the ceramics industry here?
That the industry never goes away and that there is much more employment. That people who need to eat here in this town are able to find work and to live with dignity.
Stay tuned for more artisan spotlights in the coming months!
Con Mucho Amor,
Founder, Azulina Ceramics
(Interview translated from Spanish)