"I hope to promote and rescue an important part of my culture. My dream is to showcase a modern Mexican identity through cultural elements which I feel are being lost."
"My name is Gabriela Calderón Avella, however I go by the artistic name of Gabriela Avella - my mother's maiden name. She's an artist and from a young age I've always signed by name like this. I'm a very happy, passionate and dedicated person and I try to apply that to the work I do.
"The love of Mexican crafts has always run through my family. When I was young, my parents, aunts and uncles started a small handicrafts shop. The crafts came and went while we played with many pieces, forms and textures. I learned to take pride in my culture through the different ways our artisan use to express themselves. The shop grew little by little and people began to appreciate our art in Mexican décor.
"Due to financial problems, the shop had to close, but my family kept working on creating or restoring some pieces in wood. Once, I found some half-finished wooden crosses in the workshop and, because I liked painting, I asked my uncle if I could finish them.
"It was then that I started to work with wood. My uncle taught me the importance of giving a piece a good finish. He showed me the difference between waxes, the types of paint and the results of sanding and polishing. Thanks to his help and encouraging words, I learn more every day and I can keep taking risks with new ideas and designs. I also learned how to select pieces that can be restored and those that cannot. I understand the importance of fumigating the wood and have discovered how to create finishes that can rescue the beauty of even the most battered pieces.
"I love the history behind each object. I especially like antiques from old haciendas, since each one has a story and its own unique, distinguishing features. I've learned to love wood, its texture and culture.
"I like to preserve the nature of the material, which is why I don't completely paint my designs. I've had to learn to respect and manage the time needed for this kind of work.
"When I started this project, I thought I'd just sell a few pieces to friends and acquaintances, but this dream kept growing and I realized more people like my designs than I expected. Because of that, I began developing more designs and combining different techniques.
"Launching my career as an artisan has been a huge challenge because it's difficult to find venues to exhibit my work so that it's appreciated and valued. I remember the first time I left one one my pieces in an gallery. I felt so proud of my effort and what I'd achieved. I was soon disappointed because I didn't have any negotiating experience and later, I found out the gallery had taken advantage of my inexperience and I didn't realize at the time how unfair their sales conditions were.
"After that, I felt disappointed and frustrated, and thought about giving up. But my family encouraged me to continue. They told me to remember the reason why I'd started, my willingness to grow and how far I had come. They reminded me that those who don't get up and continue after a failure never accomplish anything.
"I¿m proud to have faced my fears and accepted the challenge. I know there will always be new things to learn. I want to keep experimenting, creating new ideas that will set my work apart and that will allow me to make a difference on other artisan communities by working with them and incorporating their designs in our art.
"I hope to promote and rescue an important part of my culture. There is strength in restoring what were once everyday objects and giving them a place in the contemporary world. My dream is to showcase a modern Mexican identity through cultural elements which I feel are being lost.
"I hope to continue incorporating different techniques in my pieces. This can directly impact the communities with whom I collaborate through fair wages and teaching artisanal techniques. I currently work with nearby artisan villages that specialize in ceramics. I dream of bringing more communities into my project to make Mexican craft techniques known."