"I love my work because it frees the mind and can sometimes purify the soul."
"I was born in Oaxaca. I am a strong and persistent woman and am full of passion for my work. I create filigree, or open-work motifs on ceramics. As a child, I began crafting small figurines in the way my parents taught me. Then, I began to create utilitarian pieces like glasses, plates and jars.
"As time went by, I met the man who would become my husband and we began working in ceramics together. When we married, we began crafting miniatures with a glossy, glassy glaze. We later learned that this glaze contains lead, so while our sales fell, we had to make our imagination soar to decide what we could create that wouldn't contain lead. Suddenly, we had the idea of making miniatures with an applied filigree design in red and white clay.
"Shoppers liked our work so much that this gave us the strength and energy to continue crafting new designs, which we've done since 1981.
"Some years later, my husband was stricken with cancer and life became complicated. My children and I felt discouraged and we suffered emotionally and financially. It was so difficult! When my husband died, it was a very tough time, but I understood that I had to move ahead. I regained my strength once I realized that my children needed me, especially my daughter Beatriz, who has Down's syndrome. She is my little angel.
"I continued working in clay and this process helped me a lot by giving me the mental relaxation I needed. I love my work because it frees the mind and can sometimes purify the soul. I taught my children this art and now I'm teaching my grandchildren in my home workshop.
"We buy the clay from our neighboring towns, then prepare it, craft our designs and fire them. Sometimes, we all sell our work together. We share our design ideas, sometimes split up the tasks but all of us — except the youngest — knows the work from start to finish. The process is complex because the materials we use require a lot of patience, but I always tell them it's important to be constant, to perfect our techniques day by day, and to create new designs.
"My inspiration comes from the natural world that God created. I spend a lot of time observing flowers and birds, and thinking about the love I feel when in my workshop with my children and grandchildren. This fills my mind with images to shape into clay and, in the end, I'm satisfied when I see the finished designs and know I can offer shoppers unique, quality ceramics with a little bit of my world.
"I always think that our crafts attract tourists so that people can get to know our community. In this way, they not only take see our work, but also our entire town. Through our art, we are spreading awareness of our country's culture.
"I plan to keep taking my daughter Beatriz to her special school, provide her with dance lessons and — eventually — speech therapy. I can't wait to be able to finish building my house and improving my workshop, where I'll display my ceramic art."