BELÉN PEREZ GARCIA  | an interview

BELÉN PEREZ GARCIA | an interview


Belén Perez Garcia is a weaver from Oaxaca, Mexico who makes the beautifully fine palm shades for all of our handcrafted table lamps. She is an exceptionally talented craftsperson who has been recognized for her skill by the Oaxacan Institute for Crafts, as she shares below.

Belén has found a way to take her cultural craft tradition and apply that knowledge with respect for the past and openness to new forms and opportunities. We are so inspired by her, and are thrilled to work with her and support the survival of indigenous craft. We hope you enjoy learning a bit about our craft partner, Belén Perez Garcia:

Where were you born and raised?

I was born and grew up in San Luis Amatlan, Miahuatlan, Oaxaca. I have always lived here.

How did you learn to weave? Who taught you?

I learned to weave from my mother, and my mother learned from my grandmother - it is a craft that goes back generations. My mother wove every day. I was 6 years old when I learned; I would come home from school in the afternoons and my mother would teach me. It was easy to learn because I always liked weaving even as a young child.

In the hills near Belén's home gathering traditional weaving materials
with an elder from her community

When did you develop an interest in weaving as a profession?

At the age of 15 I started weaving to earn some money, and I enjoyed learning to make new pieces and different forms. When I sold my baskets and bottle coverings customers really liked them. And I liked them! So that encouraged me to do more.

Where do you gather your weaving materials?

I gather the palm leaves I use for weaving from the hills near my home.

weaving with local indigenous plants

How do you process the palm leaves to prepare them for weaving?

Well you have to go out to the hills to gather the leaves. Then you have to put them out to dry - they take about 10 days to dry. Then you can open the leaves and slice them very finely. The splitting of the palm, which we call it, takes about 2 hours [to process enough material] for a single piece. Then the strips are ready to weave.

How many hours does it take to make each piece?

The time it takes to make a piece depends on the size. A woven lightshade [for the DuendeCasita and Ash lamps] takes about 15 hours from the splitting of the palm to completion. If it is a larger piece, it takes more hours to finish.

sustainable craftsmanship

Where do you do your weaving?

I always weave at home, I don't have a workshop or anything like that. The entire weaving process happens in my home.

How does it feel to carry on the craft legacy of your mother and grandmother?

Well I'm proud that people like my work, especially the fine weaving which is what they like the most.

traditional basket weaving materials

Your fine weaving is very special. It's something you've won awards for. Could you tell us about it?

Yes, I have won two first place awards, a second place award, and a third place award for my woven pieces by the Oaxacan Institute for Crafts.

How is weaving culturally important to you?

Because weaving is part of the culture and tradition of our town. Right now the majority of women who do it are elders, so if we young people no longer continue making our crafts we run the risk of losing that tradition.

twenty one tonnes women artisans oaxaca

Here are some of Belén's handwoven lightshades on our Ash Lamp, Casita Lamp and Duende Lamp. The fineness of her weaving allows the light to pass through these shades in an unusually stunning way, providing mood lighting that is gentle and warm. We live with Belén's lampshades in our own homes and are struck by their beauty on a daily basis.

ethically made table lighting
Ash Lamp with silver shade

hand crafted ceramic table lamps
Ash Lamp with silver shade (L) and Casita Lamp with green shade (R)

living room table lamp
Ash Lamp with green shade

hand crafted table lamp
Duende Lamp with blonde shade

table lamp traditional craft
Ash Lamp with blonde shade


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