"I'm Laura Morales de Ardón, from Guatemala City. My grandmother was a seamstress and she used to sell her creations in the local market. She taught my mother and together they began designing and sewing fine...
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"I'm Laura Morales de Ardón, from Guatemala City. My grandmother was a seamstress and she used to sell her creations in the local market. She taught my mother and together they began designing and sewing fine clothes for children. As the years went past she managed to set up two stalls in the local market and that's how she managed to provide for my little brother and me. She put me through university, where I studied odontology and I even had my own dentist's office.
"However, this passion for textiles that I inherited was always strong and beating inside of me. My grandmother worked with simple textiles and designs, whereas my mother used more elaborate ones. I've specialized in products for home that are woven on a back strap or foot looms. Working with textiles is a passion that runs through our veins.
"Now I am married and have three beautiful children who I've managed to provide well for, thanks to God and to our work. All three have earned university degrees and are doing quite well for themselves.
"I design and work with a group of artisans who weave my designs. I've never taken any formal courses but the artisans I work with have taught me everything about the art of weaving. Ours is a reciprocal relationship for we are all learning something, but I'm constantly looking for more information. My research includes internet, textile books from around the world, and museums, as well as weaving workshops.
"When I go to the companies where they prepare the threads I like to study their colorful catalogs so I can dream up innovative designs. My main sources of inspiration are traditional Guatemala weaves: I marvel at their designs, colors and history. I’m always on the lookout for weaves of other countries and their combination of colors.
"I've created many designs over the years, but I still remember the first one I ever did: a navy blue tablecloth with a bright yellow sunflower. It was a daring design because at the time all the tablecloths I saw seemed to feature birds. I still worked as a dentist and an artisan would drop by every afternoon. We would sit on the floor to work on the design and he would share his weaving expertise. We showed a sample to a client and eventually we began to sell many tablecloths. Soon we were selling variations of the same design including fish, butterflies and flowers. They ended up in Europe! I couldn't believe it… I came to realize that the path I should follow was the one leading to the world of textiles.
"Like everyone else, I've lived through some difficult times both in my personal and professional life. First came the disappearance of my little brother during the armed conflict, and the anguish that comes from not knowing if he is alive. We loved each other and one day he just wasn't there anymore. It is a very sad thing, but many in Guatemala have lived through this too.
"The most recent challenge has been overcoming our country's economic crisis. Tourism is low and sales are down. Life has taught me that new opportunities always arise no matter how dire things get: paths are opened and there are new doors to knock on. My husband is always saying that even though the sales of our products are low, clients always return to us because they count on the quality of our items.
"No matter what, the Lord is my fortitude. He guides me and is always by my side. Same goes for my husband, he is so supportive of me.
"I like to cook during my free time, as well as to go for walks, swim, go to the beach and spending time with my grandchildren. I love to daydream and my favorite dream is that one day one of my children gets interested in textiles, so they can inherit what I have created. I'm also hopeful that sales will increase to the benefit of my children and of the artisans working with me.
"Thank you very much for inviting me to join you. It is a great opportunity for us in Guatemala, so that we produce good quality items and so improve the quality of life of artisans."