Saturday, July 19, 2008


I am very happy to feature this artist's colorful work, and I think you will find it fascinating as to how and why she started creating her wonderful pieces. Erin of La Chapina Huipil Crafts out on Etsy selected this item from her shop as her favorite. Below is information from her shop regarding this piece. Don't you just love all the wonderful colors!

I made this mosaic from scraps of many different Guatemalan huipiles. I cut them into 168 half-inch squares and attached them to thick watercolor paper using fabric glue. Within the piece there is an accent piece featuring birds from a huipil made in San Lucas Toliman.Some of the villages represented in this piece are San Andres Xecul, Tecpan, Tactic, Quetzaltenango, Chichicastenango, Nahuala, Santiago Atitlan, and Tamahu.
WOW, 168 that takes patience! Read below to find out in Erin's own words what got her started in creating her colorful works of art, and other insights into this delightful artist.
What led you to start creating your art/craft?
I've been in Guatemala since March 2007 fostering the little girl we're in the process of adopting. In August of that year, a local orphanage was raided here in Guatemala, and political tensions surrounding international adoption were running very high. Agencies began suggesting that fostering parents, like us, stay inside with our kids until things calmed down. Rumors abounded that the police were going to question any gringos they saw with Guatemalan children. So for close to two months, I only left the apartment with our daughter a handful of times. As one would imagine, being confined to apartment grounds with a toddler for that long was challenging. Eager for something to do while the baby napped or played on her own, I started looking at craft blogs for inspiration. I hand-sewed about 20 stuffed animals and little dolls out of outgrown baby clothes and, later, felt. It was a fun diversion from the stressful reality of our situation.
How did you decide what medium you wanted to work with?
I had long thought something really pretty could be made from the embroidered collars of huipiles. Once I got the sewing bug, I started visiting a shop here in Antigua that frequently had used collars and other huipil scraps for sale. The first things I made were some pillows that featured collars from Chichicastenango; I embroidered Spanish words like “esperanza” (hope) and “amistad” (friendship) within the circle formed by the collar.For my next project, I purchased several small of bags of huipil scraps in order to make Christmas ornaments for some family members back home. Afterwards, I posted photos of the ornaments on my personal blog, and the next thing I knew, I had people leaving comments saying they wanted to buy sets for their own families. An online friend who was coming to Guatemala kindly offered to transport any items I sold back to the US for shipping through the USPS. I accepted and was thrilled to have the opportunity to earn some money to help with the many expenses we were incurring by having to maintain households in both the US and Guatemala. Largely through word of mouth throughout the online adoption world, I ended up selling about $2500 worth of Christmas ornaments over the next couple months.
What aspect of creating your art/craft do you find the most enjoyable?
I love going to local markets and shops to look for the used textiles. I also find cutting up scraps for my scrap sampler bags very relaxing.
If you had to choose a fruit OR a vegetable, to describe your art/craft, what would you choose, and why?
I suppose peppers, because they come in all different bright colors and can be spicy - They stand out from other ingredients.
What message, if any, do you want to convey with your art/craft?
I am constantly amazed by the amount of work that goes into the hand-weaving, so I want to spotlight the Maya women who make the textiles in the first place. My work is dedicated to them. I also want to spread the word about the many things one can make using repurposed materials.
What advice do you have for other artists/crafters?
Try to find a niche that very few other artists are occupying. Identify your target market and keep them in mind when brainstorming new products, setting prices, or advertising.
ERIN, thanks so much for sharing your wonderful story and art with us! Be sure to visit Erin's shop, LA CHAPINA HUIPIL CRAFTS out on Etsy. You may also visit her other sites by clicking on the links below.



1 comment:

erinberry said...

Thanks for featuring my shop! I appreciate it.