Artisan Organization: Asunta Pelaez
"My passion for art comes from the depths of my heart. It's in my DNA. From childhood, I attended all the drawing and painting classes at school. I spent many hours there and I learned well. Once I had mastered the paintbrush and colors, I loved to set my creativity free. I really enjoyed my art classes. My time was spent in school, in art workshops and at home.
"A short time later, disaster stuck. I lost my parents when I was still a girl and it was devastating to me. We five children stayed with our aunt and uncle, and other close relatives helped look after us. We eventually moved to Lima where we tried to go on with our lives. Our goal was to become the best we could be and overcome life's obstacles in memory of our parents.
"In Lima, I began studying accounting while visiting workshops and helping my aunt and uncle. At school there, I met the man who would become my husband, my best friend and life teacher. He courted me through his art. He taught me what he knew about reverse painted glass and suggested I collaborate in his workshop.
"When I went to his workshop, I hadn't the slightest idea of what would happen or if my work would be good enough. But I thought back in time and remembered how I was good at drawing and painting. Then I felt more secure and was happy to learn this traditional Andean art form with techniques that have been handed down over generations.
"I fell in love with this beautiful work and the lovely designs we're able to create. I was really impressed. Since then, I've spent my whole life doing what I love most. Reverse painted glass isn't only my work. It's become a way of life. I strive to do even better by studying every detail and to become a master artisan so I can be the best I can be, together with my family.
"I originally began to learn thanks to the influence of my husband's family. But over time, we've unified our abilities and work. Little by little, I learned to design and paint. It's so satisfying to be able to dedicate myself fulltime to what I enjoy most.
"I follow a meticulous process, carefully shaping the wood to give it a pleasing form. This whole process demands incredible patience and attention to detail. The motifs are painted by hand on the reverse side of glass panes, which are inlaid onto the mirror frames, trays and decorative boxes.
"My designs are inspired by nature, and by typical scenes from my town and region. I feel very proud of the works that I create, and I look forward to sharing them with more and more people around the world."
"When you began purchasing my designs, you brought about a great change in my life, economically, of course, and personally as well, because I really value your recognition of my work. You make me feel good about myself, and encourage me to keep moving ahead. Some of you post testimonials saying how happy you are with my designs and how wonderful you find my work.
"Reverse painted glass won't make anyone wealthy, and making a living through art isn't easy. However, thanks to your support, today I can offer employment to others, including women who otherwise have few sources of income.
"In recent years, I've had some problems with my health while our expenses increased and, for a moment, I felt the situation was getting the best of me. Sales were affected and I had to make a drastic decision. I decided to shut down my workshop.
"This was so hard for me. But shortly after resolving our problems, I listened to my family who urged me to return to my workshop. 'It's what you enjoy most,' they said. 'Don't abandon this dream.' So I got my courage together and opened it again. I looked for the people who had collaborated with me and we made a new beginning together.
"Little by little, things got more normal and we continue working with the people who have always been there for me, standing with me and valuing my designs from the very beginning. I hope to continue offering you the best of me ‚Äî not only today but always.
"A dream is a wish your heart makes. It doesn't come true through magic. It requires determination and hard work. I'm proud of my designs and want to share them with even more people, and I'm sure I will."
Asunta Pelaez' work has been featured in Faith and Family magazine."