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Hector and Aurora

Artisan Organization: Hector and Aurora

Country: Central America

"My name is Hector Gil, and my beautiful life partner is Aurora Salazar. We both come from a small village in Escuintla on Guatemala's southern coast.

"After many years of working, we both found ourselves unemployed. Our age made it especially hard to find a job. Even for young people, there aren't a lot of jobs available in Guatemala. Aurora and I began looking for other ways to get ahead and decided to create something ourselves with what we had at hand.

"So, we borrowed small pieces of land near our home, where we planted different vegetables that we sold door-to-door. But we didn't produce a lot, as the plots we were using weren't very large. We began looking for a larger lot.

"During this time, it occurred to us that we could make and sell natural bonsai trees. We began to think of a way to make them, but we knew it would take a lot of time and dedication to grow them, so the idea wasn't very practical.

"One of the vegetables that we cultivated was chayote, or mirliton squash. We needed wire to build trellises the plants could climb.

"In 2017, this wire inspired us. We took several pieces of leftover wire and combined them. We placed a car tire on them to hold them in place, and began to twist them until they looked like small branches of a dry tree. We both began shaping each branch with leaves. Little by little, we had more ideas to make the wire look more like a small tree. As our imagination grew, we began to use paint. We couldn't believe the resulting sculpture — it was beautiful. And we decided to set up a workshop for our craft.

"We turned from our vegetable farming and instead began to develop different designs of our bonsai tree sculptures. We began to selling them to friends and family who also referred us to bazaars that would carry our work. By then, we realized our hands had talent.

"In 2019, we decided to formalize our project and began creating new designs for home decor, all of them crafted completely by hand. People liked them.

"Today, we also create pulled string paintings and decorative cement flower pots for cactus and succulents. Our designs are unique and original, crafted with skill and with our hearts. Each one elicits a positive feeling and brings a touch of life to any space.

"This brings us both a lot of satisfaction and we have the dream of continuing creating our works with affection and dedication just as we have from the beginning.

"It isn't easy to start out because it takes capital, which we didn't have. We have no assistants. My wife and I work full-time on our designs but we never give up. We have faith that we can achieve our goals and even our dreams because our designs are highly thought of and appreciated.

"We've taken courses in business management and have a clearer vision of how we can make our workshop grow, as designs that are handcrafted with love and dedication are appreciated more than mass-produced items that have no heart or soul.

"Today our goal is to grow and be able to teach our techniques to others. Then we'll be able offer dignified and honorable work to others who haven't yet found a way to generate an income. We want them to be able to realize their own dreams, and want to be an example. We want to show them that, if you work with dedication, constancy and love, you can achieve a lot.

"We're taking small steps but we're sure we'll go far in decorating many homes with our designs. We're committed to the environment, so we've qualified for national certification showing the wood we use comes from Guatemala's sustainable forests and that we've complied with all regulations to protect the environment.

"Our designs are exclusive. We use no molds for the bonsai trees and our designs are uniquely our own made from resistant materials. They are skillfully crafted and we put our heart into all of them so they'll bring life and color to any interior.""