Meet the artisan: Loly’s tile artistry

By Wendy Fregozo

About two years ago I learned how to decorate tiles, adorning them with a drawing and then applying varnish. Yet, after I saw Loly’s work I felt I had simply taken baby steps.teja-artesan (5)

Her artistry is astonishing; she makes decorative tiles with embossed reliefs.

I met Loly through Esther, and from the moment I met her I noted she was very positive and always smiling. She spoke to me about her work, but I did not really understood until I could observe the process. She came to my workshop, prepared to let me watch her work. She pulled out a bag with a paper-like paste that she had prepared at home two days earlier. She recycles toilet paper rolls to help make the paste, using a process of boiling, liquefying, and preparing a series of homemade ingredients.

Taking a flat tile she explains we’ll be making a cactus drawing. She took the paste, added various items, and began to knead it as if making tamales. “We’re going to start with nopales,” she said.

I took a bit of the paste, which was so amazingly easy to mold. What I enjoyed most was how it coats your fingers with glue, which  after it dries, you peel off, just like back in kindergarten.

We began to form nopales and put them out to dry. She didn’t use any additional tools, just her hands moving from one side to the other as she designed a door, a window, an entire scene depicting a typical casita from southern Mexico, complete with its nopal cactus, trees, steps, and tiled roof. I just watched, my only contribution being that of the nopales. We chatted while she worked.

“How long have you been doing hand crafts?”

teja-artesan (2)“Hmmm, it’s been since about the 80s, since about that time I’ve been going to the DIF. I’ve learned a lot of things, more than just crafts. Through all of this I’ve learned to work with older people, children, young girls, and above all learned to share – share joy, sadness, problems, no problems, and all that.  As for hand crafts, what I enjoy doing most is this, tiles. I also work with jewelry (making necklaces, bracelets, etc.), which I just learned to do recently, leatherwork, sewing – even though I already knew how to sew – I really like to sew.”

Loly also embroiders and knits. She shows me a set of 7 cloth napkins for the kitchen, each of which she detailed with meticulous embroidering and knit borders. Her work is so clean, so perfect. Ironed. Ready for clients.

“The napkins you use to embroider, do you make them yourself or do you buy them?”

“I do the edges on the majority of them and I paint them. I do the design and everything; I look for designs in hand craft books. I don’t use stencils. I use normal glass in a picture frame with a light below; I put the napkin on top, the drawing, and I draw it. Sometimes the stencil can soil the cloth.”

“Where do you sell your work?”

“I don’t do this with the goal of selling. I like to keep busy, and not let my mind wander, but if a client comes up, I would sell.”

Loly will soon be leading a course on how to make these beautiful tile pieces. So, be sure to gather up about 12 toilet paper rolls so you’re ready when the workshop begins. I know I’m ready!

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