Craft development with Creamos: Jackie’s Story

Jackie is an artist who traveled to Guatemala in early 2019 to work with the mothers in our Creamos program. Under Jackie’s instruction, they created beautiful baskets out of recycled material. She recently shared her story with us.

Jackie, bottom left, with the Creamos students

In the summer of 2018, I met Elsa Asturias while I was teaching at Snow Farm, a craft school in western Massachusetts. She saw my slide show, which included craft-development work I have done with women in Africa.*

Elsa and Jackie

[Elsa] is from Guatemala, and is an artist, a businesswoman, an organizer, a translator. When she learned that I had done craft development work with women in Africa, she asked if I might be interested in working with the women who live near the dump in Guatemala City.

“Of course!” And she began working her magic to make it happen…

I traveled to Guatemala in January/February of 2019. It was a remarkable trip. I worked with two groups of women: women from four rural communities, as well as women who lived around the dump in Guatemala City.

This was my first time in Latin America, but I have been involved with Weave A Real Peace – WARP for many years. Many of these members frequently work in Guatemala, so it felt familiar. I’ve been teaching basketry techniques since 1975.

The purpose [of the workshops] was to teach the women to use recycled materials to create baskets that can be sold at the Creamos shop. The goal is to use recycled materials, and to increase the women’s income.

We identified a few women who understood the process and would make good teachers for this technique. Hannah [Executive Director of Creamos] talked about having weekly meeting of the basket makers for encouragement and learning. They also worked at home during the workshop.

I was teaching the coiling technique, encouraging the woman to make small-ish functional baskets/canastas. Here in the US, I often teach coiling as a sculptural technique**.

The women brought the plastic bags, and Hannah found a treasure trove: there are MANY bags of fabric scraps left over in the sewing room of Creamos. We used those! They made some beautiful baskets. Hannah said there is an endless supply. Great for these women.

Bonifacia (Boni), a trash picker, came every day, did a great dance for us, and showed us her yoga moves. At the end of the week, she gave me the basket she had made, so that I would always remember her. I will.

Jackie and Boni

Read Jackie’s blogpost about her experience in Guatemala.

* Learn more about Jackie’s craft development work in Africa

** Learn more about Jackie’s coiling sculptural technique