Artisan Organization: Lorenza Perez
“Hi, I'm Lorenza Perez, originally from Zinacantán, Chiapas, and I create textiles on a backstrap loom.
“For us, this art is something that comes from generations and is taught as a tradition in our community since girls are very young. All girls have to learn to use a backstrap loom from the age of 6. In my case, my mom and my grandmother took it upon themselves to teach me since I was that age. My grandmother started preparing me and then I had to practice on my own. In the process, I had many mistakes, but thanks to that today I can dedicate myself 100% to my work.
“I started making small things like cup holders or table runners for restaurants and different craft vendors. Thus, little by little I began to market my pieces more until I managed to set up a small workshop where I now work with other artisans and of which I am very proud. Now it's my turn to teach my daughters to preserve the family heritage.
“I currently work with some members of my family and in total, we are four generations of artisans working in my workshop. My aunt, for example, helps me with warping, while I work on the backstrap loom. My husband helps me finish the garments. Each one is dedicated to different things: some make scarves, others table runners, others shawls, etc. We work together and this whole process takes between 7 and 15 days, depending on the complexity of the piece.
“What we do first is to dye the cotton thread with leaves or flowers. We put it to dry, and if it's very hot, it dries in two/three days, but if it's raining a lot it takes about 15 days to dry. Once the yarn is dry, we put it in a yarn unraveler and ball it up. After finishing making the balls we pass them to the warper, then we see how much fabric we will make--how long and how wide. Finally, preparation begins on the backstrap loom and the garment is made. The complete elaboration of a garment takes a minimum of 18 hours and a maximum of 40 hours.
“What I like most about my pieces is that it is a unique, striking work, and a symbol of culture and tradition, taken to a high level thanks to its quality. Also, I really like working on the designs. I am the one who makes them and then I make a pattern so that the other artisans can make it. My inspiration comes from flowers. Zinacantán is full of them. The greenhouses are full of all the colors of the different flowers that bloom at the same time and attract a lot of attention. In my community, everything is full of flowers and colors, even the food. I observe them and from there I get the tones of my designs. One of my plans is to continue learning new things and, if I have the chance, to resume my studies, finish a degree and be recognized for the work I do to increase the designs of my pieces and my sales in textiles.
“I am proud of the artisans in my community and I don't see myself dedicating myself to anything else. I see myself devoting 100% to crafts for the rest of my days.”"