Born and raised in Puerto Rico, from a very early age I was always drawn to artistic endeavors, be it making jewelry, paper flowers, drawing, and making crafts of all types.  I feel I got my artistic and creative bent from my mother and maternal grandmother.  My mother has always been an extremely good seamstress.  She used to make all my clothes from childhood up to the time that I left home to go to college in the states.  The way she could whip out a blouse out of a half a yard, no one can ever replicate.  I for sure couldn't.  Although she always used patterns, it didn't mean she always followed all the instructions though.  She knew her way around the machine and understood patterns.  For instance she always figured she could make the garment with at least 1 yard less than the pattern called for.    It was kind of fun, watching her get excited as she thought she was "outsmarting" those pattern making people. What do they know?  Even her "failed" attempts, which were very few, were still successes for her.  She managed to make it for less, to save money, and to use her ingenuity.  Even though the sleeve might have had to suffer for it.  Who cares?

My grandmother, was also a great source of inspiration.  She always had a keen eye for beautiful things, and was, in my mind at least, a bit of an inventor.  I couldn't wait every time I'd go visit her  to see what she had changed or added in her home decor, and what new gadget she had come up with this time to make her life easier.   Whether it was a pulley system to transport goodies up and down to her downstairs neighbor, to an avocado catching pole (she should have patented that one!), to the magic she'd create in the kitchen, making pastelillos, guanabana shakes and coconut desserts, she was always up to something good.  Seeing her break open those coconuts was an amazing feat and unforgettable memory for me.  She'd be so fearless.  She'd trow the coconut on the floor, as she calmly explained, that is how you do it.   Meanwhile the coconut would shatter into million pieces and  It was up to me then to go find the pieces!

And there's always the time she decided to make a maraca, from scratch.  That's right, right from the plant of "higuera", which she happened to have in her backyard.  Where she even learned to do this, who knows, but she knew exactly what to do.  She dried the gourd, cleaned it out, stained the outside and even though she did not have "guaranies" which are the authentic seeds you are supposed to put on the inside, she improvised, and used rice instead.  I helped out by painting the outside of the maraca depicting a traditional "bohio" scene in the Puerto Rican "campo" or countryside.  I still have that maraca, yes in singular, since we only got around to making one.  But it is one of my most treasured  possessions.  It reminds me of what can be made with human ingenuity.  How something so beautiful, practical, and even musical, can be made from the most commonplace ingredients and parts.  It inspires me to create, to improvise, to worry about craftmanship, details, and have fun at the same time.  I hope some of that is reflected in my work, and the pieces I create and design, and that they bring enjoyment and pleasure to those who have them.  I sure plan on having fun making them!