Artisan Organization: Byron Toscano
Country: Central America
"I work in wrought iron. All my designs are completely original and crafted by hand. The wrought iron is created with fire and a forge.
"I was born on February 22, 1973 and had a happy childhood with my parents and my six brothers and sisters. None of them are artisans.
"I studied through the second grade of basic education, but I was always interested in wrought iron art. I never liked school much. All my life, what I've been passionate about is my work, my art.
"When I was 16, I began to work in a well-known Antigua forge. I worked there for seven years and I learned everything about this work, the techniques, designs and finishes. My first piece was a miniature lamp and I still have it today as an adornment in my house.
Then I decided to venture out on my own and I set up my own workshop with five people who work with me. That was in 1996 and I've never regretted my decisions for a moment. It's taken a lot of effort to become independent but I've been selling my designs to tourists since 2005. This has been the greatest challenge in my life.
"My work is something special where I can reveal my creativity. I like to know that each piece I make is accepted and admired by shoppers because this inspires me to create new designs.
"I have two daughters who are the light of my life. Someday when they're grown up and have their own families, I'd like to teach my art to my grandsons ‚Äì if they're interested, of course. Because every one of us chooses our own path in life and we can't force anyone to work at something they're not passionate about.
"Once, a Swiss gentleman visited my workshop. He absolutely loved my work and told me he'd like to take me to Switzerland because my work was of excellent quality and would sell very well. He told me he'd like me to live there because in Switzerland there are very few people willing to get their hands dirty working with iron. I never saw him again, but sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if I'd had the opportunity to live in Switzerland.
"I hope my work will be well received, that I am able to transmit what wrought iron art means for me, and that you will realize every piece has been crafted with passion and creativity.""