"I'm hopeful that my crafts will become items that are different, ecological and valued by others. I dream of my workshop growing so I can offer jobs to the handicapped and to single moms."
"I'm Xochitl Gomez Cabrera, born on May 31, 1982 in Guadalajara. My friends describe me as patient, persistent and creative.
"To be able to create the kind of handicrafts I do, I had to discover what I wanted to do with my life. It wasn't easy, as I come from a family of doctors who assumed I'd continue in their footsteps. However I decided to study art.
"At first, I immersed myself in painting. Then a teacher asked us to do a project using recycled materials. That's when I realized there were a lot of scraps from gardens, and I began experimenting and developing designs. It took a lot of patience and creativity but little by little, I perfected my technique with the help and advice of friends who are chemists.
"What I call 'my project' came about in 2007 and it was extremely challenging to position my designs in the market so that people could get to know them. My technique is different and a lot of people confuse it with cork, which I find frustrating. But when I explain what materials I use and how I obtain them, people like them and my designs really stand out.
"I collect the leaves and small branches when trees are pruned — I just pick them up and carry them home. People who see me seem puzzled, some laugh, others simply observe me. I like that, because it makes people wonder about what I do with these materials.
"I'm hopeful that my crafts will become items that are different, ecological and valued by others. I dream of my workshop growing so I can offer jobs to the handicapped and to single moms. I want to create new items and designs, and I never want to lose my creativity or stop believing in myself.
"Handicrafts have evolved considerably, and I believe that time and perseverance are very important as I continue perfecting the details in my designs.
"The materials I use are leaves and twigs that I recycle in a process that saves about 90% of the energy used in conventional papers. The process is artisanal, the materials ecological, and my designs are unique. They are inspired by nature, by the air and the freedom I feel.
"I seek to craft pieces that are harmonious in the balance of their colors, their shapes, and the magic of the leaves."