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Maria Jose Artes

Artisan Organization: Maria Jose Artes

Country: Mexico

“I am María José, originally from Teotitlán del Valle, and I make rugs and wool bags woven on a pedal loom.

“The first time I had contact with this traditional art was through my husband. My husband learned from his parents, and when we met he taught me. Now we both share all this knowledge with our children: how to obtain the raw material, the washing of the wool, the dyeing process and the weaving on the loom. In addition, now we are also teaching our grandson, who is already showing a lot of interest in what is done at home.

“I began to be interested in this craft because I realized that I could make many variants in designs, colors, shapes, etc. In addition, I think that weaving rugs is a great job because you can reflect your day-to-day feelings in them, but above all, because it is an art that identifies us as part of the Teotitlán del Valle community.

“Starting to work on our own has always been and will continue to be challenging because we didn't have someone to guide us. However, it is more free, beautiful and fun because we can make any design or combination and if it doesn't come out as expected, it doesn't matter. We can repeat it with other colors, or with a new size--we look for the formula until we have the rug that we want. That is one of the benefits of being self-employed; there are many obligations but also many rewards.

“My family and I started the workshop with the dream that anyone, from anywhere in the world, could have one of the bags or rugs we make within their reach. Fortunately, we have managed to share our art in places we never imagined. This motivates us to continue maintaining the quality of all the pieces, from the fabric, the wool, the leather, absolutely everything, because I think that is what has characterized the pieces of our workshop. One of our objectives is to continue maintaining this standard of quality so that all the people can obtain a piece of ours that will last them a long time and have the greatest satisfaction.

“There is no other formula to become a master at what you do, other than practice. In my case, I had to weave quite a few rugs. I had to learn to play with the loom and master dyeing, which is quite a complicated activity. And many times even though there is a formula to create a color, it is completely up to you that the colors come out the same in each batch. All these processes and learning can only be gained with time, dedication and effort. That is why I like to dedicate myself so much to this because I think it is a very noble material; it is so moldable that you can create a bag, a cushion, a rug... you can create pieces for infinite uses. Not only for decoration but for anything you can imagine. For this reason, I believe that one of our challenges is to innovate, to create new pieces that can be used for more contemporary things such as pouches, sweatshirts, cushions for cars, cases for cameras... countless things from everyday life in which our art can be present. As long as they have this standard of quality that characterizes us and that has always been paramount for us, to add even more value to this beautiful traditional technique.

“I believe that the main contribution that we make to the community with is that we always try to share with other fellow artisans. If we can support other artisans, we do so, and we not only benefit our workshop but also other workshops.”"