The Art of Beading
Artisan group Arco Iris gets the community of Sololá involved in the world of crafts
text & photos by Hilary Kilpatric
“I enjoy making new designs and love seeing the designs come to life in the beaded jewelry,” explains Ana Alisia, one of the artisans in the group Arco Iris.
Located in Sololá, Arco Iris specializes in beadwork. The artisan group is led by Salvador, who grew up in a family of artisans and decided to start his own group four years ago when he dedicated his efforts to beading.
“We employ almost 50 people in the community. Some people work at our workshop while others work at home in their spare time,” Salvador explains. “The ability to work from home makes it much easier for mothers to be a part of the group and help earn an income for their families because they do not have to leave their children.
I like being able to help people from my community get ahead in life through the world of crafts.”
Ana Alicia and Marta María are cousins and work side by side in the workshop. They are both 18 years old and from large families. Both of these young women are single and they like working together at the workshop.
“I learned the art of beading from my mother, because she also does beadwork. But Salvador taught me how to make more intricate designs, and he knows how to find customers so that we always have work,” explains Marta María about how she got involved with beading.
Now that she has a steady income from her beadwork, she can afford to send herself back to school. She is currently in eighth grade and has dreams of one day attending the university.
Upstairs in the workshop several men work on sewing the beads onto leather. Ismael Antonio, 21, has been working with Arco Iris for three years. He is the oldest of three siblings and is happy to earn a salary and help his family survive. His father is a fisherman and his mother sells the fish, but often they do not earn enough to keep the family afloat.
“I like working with my friends and being able to help my family,” Ismael said. “I want to send my little sister to middle school, because she is very smart.”
When asked about the future of Arco Iris, Salvador exclaimed: “I want to make the best products with the most unique designs, and I want to sell the products all over the world.”