29 April 2023

A craftsman family

More than a decade ago I met Mr Julio...Julio Lopez.  And then I met one of his sons who has followed in his father's 'footsteps' tho the work the family does is done by hand, not by foot.  Now there is a third generation, a grandson, who is creating treasures like the two previous generations.

Each of these three men in Mr Julio's family is a craftsman, a word that is defined as "...a person who is skilled in a particular craft."  Mr Julio and his son and his grandson are skilled in the craft of creating lovely and often useful things from wood...quite often 'found' wood.  

In Virginia when rights of way are cleared...for instance along a power line...the wood that is removed is most often oak or pine.  On Nicaragua's east side the wood cleared along a power line is often teak or mahogany...or even rosewood.

When I am in Nicaragua, Bluefields specifically, I always visit with someone in the Lopez family and I almost always return to Virginia wih a new treasure...a walking stick, a kitchen utensil, a bowl, a cup, a tray, a pair of earrings.  If I can name it - or if I can produce a photo for illustration - one of these men can make it.

But when I first began to do business with the family, none of the pieces I purchased was signed; and so I began to ask Mr Julio to sign the pieces I bought...if the size of the piece permitted that.  

I explained why I wanted him to take this extra step, that the pieces he made for me were unique; and if, as I sometimes do, I gave some of the items as gifts...I wanted the people who got each piece to know who made it.  Because Mr Julio and his son and grandson make things almost exclusively by hand - and almost exclusively without electricity - that's how they sign their work. Mr Julio is shown here signing, by hand, a small rosewood tray that sits in my Virginia house about 5 feet from where I am right now.

It's important in my family to know the history of the unique items we live with, acknowledging and remembering the person who crafts these things.