Today in the Taller, I learned how to use a pneumatic compressor to apply a painted wood block onto a three-dimensional relief mold.

You see, there is an artisan quality to the Mayan collections we make, but since we make things in quantities of hundreds and thousands, ah, this is where system engineering and industrial experience makes sense. As a trade apprentice, learning how to attempt…and hopefully master… these techniques and tools is beautiful.

I mean, just working with my hands and mind, and being able to converse while doing the task is so absorbing, and with all the oversized machinery here, it’s like being allowed to a fountain of learning in a machine shop. I’m surprised that some of the Mexican students find this (and working alongside mestizo indigenous workers) mundane or beneath them, and they prefer to sit with their computers every day, or even stare at a wall and complain.

Because even if it’s just deshojeando pensamientos, it’s like folding wontons with a bunch of people: eventually it isn’t about how many dumplings get made, it’s about the conversations and the jokes that transpire over the pretext of preparing food. Everyone becomes closer doing this. Sometimes you have to be careful, though, because it’s easy to get your angora sweaters and nice jeans stained with paint and oils, so you have to wear a trashbag apron.

For the Taller, I’m also pleased that I’m able to communicate how incredible this cooperative is to foreigners. I love to take them to the back and show them the processes, show them who works here, and why this place is special. I don’t believe in selling people things, but persuasion is another art altogether. To help frame something so that others can see what’s extraordinary about the ordinary, is a simple joy in life.

Here is a recent photo shoot of some furniture made by Chebo and his assistants. While I’m not in town or helping out with one thing or another, I take photographs about the world around me.

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