Artisan Organization: Victor Hugo Lopez
Country: Central America
"I work in wood. Like many people who work in this craft, I had a difficult childhood that helped me become a man who strives to get ahead. I'm a hard worker, and I've worked on my own since the early 1970s.
"My parents weren't artisans but, as a child, I did see a lot of people who were and I was fascinated by how much shoppers liked handcrafted wood art. I decided to learn, and the first thing I crafted was fruit carved from wood, which I eventually sold.
"My family and friends consider me a creative person, responsible and innovative. I dream of being able to make my workshop grow and being able to sell my handcrafted designs all over the world.
"I'm a simple man, good-humored, and I enjoy talking with people about what I do. I like to explain the mechanics of my work, and also to create new things. This is not only to sell ‚Äî creating entertains me and I get excited with each new project. I love beginning something new. Developing a new design is like planning for the birth of a baby. I draw, cut the wood, carve it, sand it, take it apart and start from zero until I have a finished piece that makes me happy.
"At one time, I had a workshop with 40 carpenters working with me. But, as time passed, we had some bad seasons and a lot of competition. My work declined little by little.
"I was one of the first artisans to craft fruit in the area and I had a lot of apprentices, many of whom have become quite successful at this. Today, I am teaching my nephew and my brother-in-law to work with wood, paints and varnishes that can be easily obtained. We like to play with colors and discover our own combinations. Afterward, we sand the pieces and give them a lovely finish with varnish, as it is the perfection of the finishes that inspire me most.
"At first, it was difficult, especially building a base of clients. But with hard work and effort, I've been able to continue working with this art form. I'm in charge of designing, crafting and sales, and everyone in my workshop has his own responsibilities so that our designs are of good quality.
"We don't use complicated or modern tools, just a lathe, a band saw, a drill and a polisher. I enjoy showing the variety of fruit we have here, and its colors.
"Right after the terrible earthquake of 1976, there was just no money in Guatemala and I had to go to Honduras to sell my designs. Thank God, we were able to keep the workshop and get through those tough times.
"Apart from my work, I like going to church, and I enjoy reading about carpentry and decoration. In this way, I've been able to make my creations different and everyone seems to like them.
"Once, my work was selected for a catalog of Guatemalan handicrafts. I felt very proud because being selected for an international catalog is a reason to celebrate.
"I really enjoy my work and, over the years, it has let me take my designs far beyond the borders of Guatemala. I am so proud of the resources we have here.
"I'm grateful to you for the opportunity to have a window to the world through the web page. I'm also grateful to everyone who makes your homes a cultural showcase for artisans like me, who live and dream of our work.""