Hector Medrano - Hand-carved marble chess sets
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"I'm passionate about my work – I knew it was mine from the very first time I saw the uncut stones. Every person is born with a gift or ability. I'm sure that this is the gift God gave me."
"I was born in Jutipa in 1971, where I grew in a numerous family – I'm the fifth of eight children. My village is very pretty and I thank God for being able to grow up there.
"As a child, I liked to play ball, go out to the fields and pick fruit, I loved to go fishing in the river with my friends, and we'd swim there. My mother was a homemaker and my father was a farmer. We only went to school for a few years because we didn't have much money.
"When I was 14, I came to the capital with my brother-in-law and met a person who worked sculpting marble. I started to work with him and I liked it. I worked with him for approximately a year and a half, and learned the fundamentals of the craft.
After that, I started working with marble on my own. By then, I was about 16. I moved to Santa Rosa and a friend loaned me some land where I started creating new designs. I obtained money to buy a machine and material, and I started from scratch with neither money nor materials.
"The first pieces I sculpted were from the Maya culture… I call these designs 'Mayitas.' My sculptures came out well but, when I compare them with what I do today, I realize that experience is the true teacher. I can see that my technique has gotten better.
"I've been working with marble since the early 1990s and today I have my own workshop with my own machinery and tools, from industrial motors to drill bits, files, diamond head disks, diamond head drill bits and more. Looking back, I can't believe I began with no equipment or materials, just a desire to get ahead and learn the craft.
"The marble I use is from Guatemala, mined in Zacapa, where there are entire mountains made of marble. They are known as the Sierra de las Malinas.
"It has taken a great effort to get here, but I made it! Although I still have a lot to learn and do. So far, it's been hardest to start from nothing and do things little by little, struggling every step of the way to get to where I am.
"Life is about learning all the time and that is a good thing. If not, I'd be living a very boring life. I liked this work from the very beginning. Designing is what I most like and it offers more challenges. I feel very happy when I'm working because seeing the rustic stone and discovering its potential is a great inspiration; knowing that a raw stone can become something so beautiful never ceases to amaze me. I get excited just by seeing the stone. It is then worked with both the heart and mind.
"I am passionate about my work – I knew that it was mine from the very first time I saw the uncut stones. Every person is born with a gift or ability. I am sure that this is the gift God gave me – the ability to imagine, design and carve marble sculptures.
"I show my collaborators and other young people. But only one has been able to work on his own, and his success fills me with pride and happiness. Not everyone likes to design. I like to teach others to work, and they're almost always they are the sons of friends or neighbors who ask me to teach their children… but they don't all learn. Out of all that have come to my workshop to learn, only one has liked it as much as much as I do. I could see how his eyes would shine when he sculpted, and I told myself, 'This kid is going to want to continue with this. And so far he has – today he has his own shop and his own customers. This makes me feel satisfied.
"Besides sculpting, I like agriculture. I have some land near my house and I rent the lots for people to work the land. What I enjoy most is planting beans, corn and squash (my favorite.)
"With my wife and two children, I have a beautiful family. My desire is to get ahead and continue working as best as I can. I want my children to go to school and graduate, and become someone in life. Shy, a man of few words, a good person, hard working – this is who I am."
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