Salvador Petzey - Wood sculptures and puzzle boxes
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"When I looked at the roots of trees, I tried to see shapes in them, just people do with clouds."
I grew up on the shores of Lake Atitlan. My parents were caretakers for a weekend house there. As their oldest son, I had a lovely childhood but I worked from an early age to help with expenses.
"When I looked at the roots of trees, I tried to see shapes in them, just people do with clouds. My first piece of art was a heron carved from wood. It had a long beak and stood on one leg, and I shaped it little by little from a tree root. I realized I could create a bird with it and, as I carved, it took the form I wanted. Then an uncle taught me some carving techniques and I tried to make every sculpture a bit better.
"When I decided to dedicate myself to this art, I worked with a foreigner. When he saw my ability to make things, he set up a workshop where we could produce and sell my figurines. However, when he left Guatemala, he took all his tools and machinery with him. I had to start my own workshop from zero. One at a time, I bought the things I needed to equip my workshop. Today I can tell you it was difficult but happy, and proof is that I've been working in wood on my own since 1986. I sell designs that are beautifully handcrafted of fine woods.
"People who know me say I'm a person who loves life, especially sharing my art and experience with others. I enjoy helping members of the community and working so our children will have better opportunities than we had.
"Today I dream of becoming a recognized artist, that people know my art and my inspiration. I'd love it if my children decided to work with me and, for this reason my oldest son is learning to carve wood in his spare time. He's also helping to teach several people from our town so that this tradition won't be lost.
"I think what I like best about my work is how you can make any kind of figure from an ordinary piece of wood. Images from Maya art are the most difficult to do but they're prettier and sell very well.
"Many times I've had to stop doing things and dedicate myself to the workshop when there are orders to fill. I love playing soccer with my brothers, going out with my family and going to church but, because of my work, I can't get away from the workshop very often.
"The people who collaborate with me are also a part of my family. They help me sand and finish the sculptures, but I'm the one who cuts the wood according to the patterns, carves and seals it for the final finishing.
"It's interesting to work in an area that helps keep our culture alive, the culture of our Maya ancestors and all the animals of our land. My carvings are made of mahogany, ebony, granadillo and guachipilin wood. Almost all of them are puzzles and they are all made with special dedication because each one is special to me.
"That's why it's a real pleasure to share my handcrafted art through Novica. I hope when my designs arrive in your home that you can see at a glance all the history, work and appreciation with which they are made."
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