Artisan Organization: Margarita Lainez
Country: Central America
"I was born in Chalatenango, El Salvador, where I lived until I was 15 years old, when I had to leave my home and go to the city to be able to continue with my studies. My parents were hardworking people, though they were not artisans.
"During El Salvador's civil war I moved to Argentina, but I lived in panic everyday fearing for the lives of my family and friends. And though it was the most challenging time of my life, living abroad is how I got interested in weaving. I studied all the traditional techniques that I could, and to this day I still find myself fascinated with it all. Now I know that back then I was weaving the threads of life: my own life, my family's life, and the lives of all the people I have had the good fortune to meet. It was like an opportunity to share all the knowledge I had acquired in a time when our El Salvador was going through difficult times.
"My initiation into the textile arts was in 1986, in a workshop where I was able to learn different techniques. Then I bought my first loom and a couple of books and the first things I wove were scarves. I must admit at first I didn't know much about it, I just started doing it as a way to keep busy rather than being constantly anxious about my loved ones. But as I learned more and more techniques I realized there was an infinite number of possibilities and opportunities that comes with this craft.
"And so I began to dream about returning to El Salvador when the war was over and work with children to help them deal with the horrors of war by offering weaving as occupational therapy. As soon as I returned to El Salvador I started to find out how to best share all that I had learned, but people like my sister thought I should work in something 'serious, formal.'
"No one seemed to understand what I was doing during that time. Sometimes even think I wasn't aware of how far wefts and warps can take you. In 1993 I was able to participate in a couple of important projects and I started teaching at a university in the design faculty.
"I also participated in a project with women's groups living in the countryside with a long-standing weaving tradition. One of the moments of greatest satisfaction came when my sister proudly congratulated me for what I was doing. But in truth, it has been a long road paved with many doubts, many challenges, twists and turns. Nevertheless, I have always had the conviction and certainty that this is what I want to do.
"In 1997 I opened a workshop where I could teaching all the different weaving techniques. I called it Aracn√© after spiders, weavers par excellence. We get together once a week to weave and we sell what we make. The idea is for people to come to the workshop to see how the piece they bought was made.
"I still travel around the country teaching young people. And, I am still learning too! Everyday offers an experience and an opportunity to improve oneself and enrich our knowledge.
"My dream for the future is to have a larger space with many looms so I can share my knowledge with others who feel and live textiles like I do. I dream of peace and tranquility returning to El Salvador so I may keep the doors to my workshop opened for everybody, without fear of delinquency. I want to create a space where everyone is welcomed, learning and sharing and above all, feeling excited about holding fibers in one's hands and weaving them into something beautiful. I would like others to feel as happy as I do when I hold a woven piece in my hands. See how a piece is made up of one thread, then another thread‚Ä¶ fragile threads that when united in a weave they become strong and warm and colorful. That's the beauty of what we do, this is what we like, and that is the most gratifying aspect of our craft, to be able to do what we like. We love seeing how other people ‚Äì people we don‚Äôt know ‚Äì like our pieces too, thus creating a special, well-woven and colorful bond.
"I am very thankful to Novica for the opportunity for promoting my country‚Äôs textile heritage and I would like Novica customers to know that what you have in your hands wasn't only created to be sold ‚Äì it is rich with our experiences. We would like you to come and visit with us and it would be a pleasure if you would like to stay to chat and weave with us!" "