Meet the Artisans: Meet our glass blowing group, Copavic
Meet Copavic. Copavic is an artisan owned cooperative in Cantel, Quetzaltenango. They make beautiful glassware using recycled glass. Copavic was founded in 1976 as a way to provide income for young people during the 36 year civil war. The cooperative was founded by a glass blower who was looking for a new opportunity after the glass factory where he worked closed. Together with other interested artisans, they built the ovens and the factory little by little. Now, the cooperative has 20 members and provides work for up to 38 artisans when they are in production. Due to the high costs of heating the ovens and the difficulty in finding clients, the group only produces their beautiful glassware a handful of times a year. When the artisans aren't producing beautiful glassware, they dedicate themselves to working in the fields or to weaving cortes, the traditional skirts, using large foot looms.
The products are made from all recycled glass. People drop off glass at the factory year round, which gets cleaned up, the label removed, and broken in to smaller pieces that can be melted down.
After the glass has been prepped and is melted down, the artisans begin to form it in to their unique products. There are seven stations in total, and each station has a master artisans and two apprentices. The group provides all of the training on-site, and they are excited to say that they are once again drawing interest from young people who want to learn the art of glass blowing. The artisans move around each other in what appears to be a well-choreographed dance, moving between the ovens and their work stations to blow, mold, and form the glass product.
Once the item has been formed, the artisans fire it under a modified blow torch and place it in a large brick oven to be fired at the end of production. The products get fired for 24 hours before they are finished. Once they are done, they are left with a one-of-a-kind glass, cup, or pitcher.
Meet the Artisans: Meet our pine needle basket artisan group.
Meet Adelanto. Adelanto is a group of women artisans from the rural highlands of Guatemala. They make decorative pine needle baskets that are so beautiful they could be considered works of art. Adelanto was originally founded by a group of war widows and orphans after Guatemala's bloody 36 year civil war as a way to support themselves. The group started by making and selling woven bracelets. They have since learned the art of pine needle basket making. New members have integrated over the years, and the group is now 17 women strong.
In order to weave their baskets, the women must first gather pine needles. After gathering the needles, the women put them to dry. Once the pine needles are sufficiently dry, the group removes the ends of the needles. Using plastic raffia, the group begins to wrap the needles and raffia together in to the desired shape.
You can see Adelanto's work in our online store or by stopping in to one of brick in mortar stores.
Last Friday, the Open Door School and Library, La Puerta Abierta in Spanish, hosted the elders from the Elder Center at their school. The school children planned a day of activities for the elders, including arts and crafts, games, songs, and a snack. The day provided many opportunities for inter-generational sharing, and smiles and laughter abounded. It was great to see the elders enjoy themselves and forget about their worries. Thank you to La Puerta Abierta for the great day!
October 1st is the International Day of Older Persons, a day established to fight discrimination against the aging and to raise awareness of the situations of older people. In Guatemala, as in many countries around the world, older persons are often forgotten about or are left to fend for themselves. Without families who are able to care for them, many elders are forced to continue to do hard labor or to beg on the street in order to survive. Many elders never leave their houses, and when they do, they remain invisible while the rest of society rushes around them. Our elders face similar conditions in life. The Elder Center is a place where these forgotten persons can feel like human beings again. It's a place where they can receive nutritious meals that so many depend on to survive, access to the medical care that they so desperately need but are unable to pay for, and social interaction. Help us to continue to provide this essential care by sponsoring an elder or making a donation to the Elder Center.
Sharing the Dream in Guatemala
Diane Nesselhuf is Sharing the Dream in Guatemala's director and founder.