On Wednesday (June 5th), we held another workshop for the artisans. This taller was a “share best practices” meet up with the artisans in Bajo Corral. Sandra picked up the ladies from Bajo Corral and brought them to the office. We had coffee, tea, and cookies for them. The artesanas in Bajo Corral have their own artisan group, that meets every other Wednesday to create their handicrafts together.
We had bought cogollo, thread, and other materials for them to use. In the first workshop the Eco-Artisans learned how to create baskets, earrings, headbands, and more with a tropical plant called cogollo. An artesana from Nicaragua came down and taught them how to use the natural fiber. As I have made baskets before using natural fibers I bought in the States, it was somewhat easy for me to learn. For the artesanas, who have been doing this type of thing their whole lives, it came naturally.
The women from our Eco-Artisan group who had attended the first workshop, taught the techniques they had learned to the women from Bajo Corral. They picked it up fast and soon they were innovating and coming up with new ways to create patterns with the thread and cogollo. Their new techniques were based on the ones they use to weave the traditional hats.
As we worked together it was amazing to see the women bond. Stories were told of pet monkeys and laughter could be heard around the table. Many of our artesanos from the Eco-Artisan group are not from Panama. They come from the US, South Africa, and other Latin American countries. As the women of Bajo Corral learned new techniques, they were also teaching the Eco-Artisans about medicinal plants and other artisanal activities traditionally found in Panama. They even provided an Eco-Artisan with some flowers to help heal her eyes.
By the end of the workshop, everyone was happy to have spent a relaxing morning creating art together. The women of Bajo Corral expressed interest in attending more workshops and even asked when the next one would be. As I was weaving with the leftover Eco-Artisans, after the women of Bajo Corral had left, they expressed an interest in having monthly meetings like these. I am so excited to see the women’s passion and desire for growth in their art. It reminds me how important my work here can be.