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Leonor-Martinez

Artisan Organization: Leonor Martinez

Country: Peru

I was born in the historical capital of Cusco, formerly the capital of the Inca Empire. During the days of the Viceroys, it was one of Peru's most important cities where splendid Baroque and neoclassic churches, palaces and plazas were built. Cusco is beautiful everywhere you look.

I'm a very sociable woman, and a cheerful and positive worker. I trust that tomorrow always brings us new opportunities to be able to move forward.

Like everyone, I had very difficult times as a child. I didn't grow up with my biological parents, but a warm and loving family welcomed me into their home and made me part of it. Thanks to them, I was able to grow and not feel any emptiness. On the contrary, I think for some reason God brought these good people into my life so we could overcome adversities together.

I've always been curious and willing to learn and consider myself self-taught. Everything I learned has been by watching and observing all that other artisans did. I was aware of every detail and, at home, I tried to imitate and improve, doing my own version of each handcrafted item.

For me, knitting, crochet and embroidery are art forms that are a part of me. They do require a lot of patience, good humor and dedication. But this craft satisfies my creative needs and leads me to develop more and more designs. I have fun and I love it — there is nothing like working with passion and love.

This art encourages me to develop the most difficult aspect of creation — to create physically what was previously only in my mind. That fascinates me. I dream of progressing as an artisan, teaching other people in my community and all those who want to learn how to knit and crochet. The doors of my home are always open.

I love being able to share these skills with wonderful women who have struggled to get ahead and, today, I work with other women like myself who haven't had an easy life. Some are single mothers who want to give their children the best that they can. Women who thought they'd never be able to do anything or who suffered the loss of their families and were left alone, abandoned. When they learn the value of knitting and see all the things they can do with this art, it's wonderful. And they, in turn, share this message of love, effort and perseverance.

My great inspiration comes from my village, the people, our customs and traditions, the places that surround me. I'm thankful to all of you who give me the opportunity to grow and cross borders, sharing my art with the world."