Juan de Dios Rodas Galvez – Jaspe Artist

Double-jaspe (ikat) cloth woven in the workshop of Juan de Dios. It takes a large team of people working very hard to produce it.
Double-jaspe (ikat) cloth woven in the workshop of Juan de Dios. It takes a large team of people working very hard to produce it.

Juan de Dios is as far at the other end of the spectrum from Ana Pu as anyone could be. Whereas Ana probably never held a book in her hands before and her grandson is the first in the family ever to go to school, Juan de Dios was frustrated at not being able to go to college himself but made sure that his three daughters could. Ana lives far down the most difficult road of all our trips. Juan de Dios lives in town and we can drive to his front door. The first time we spoke with his neighbors they told us that his name in the neighborhood is Chuck Norris because they think he looks like the man who played Walker, Texas Ranger, a popular tv show here still. When we arrived to deliver the books to him, Juan had just come back from football (soccer) practice and looked healthy and tan.

Studying the book, poring over every page.
Studying the book, poring over every page.

In almost every case, when we handed the book to the artisans they did NOT look for themselves right away. Juan, one of the few who can read Spanish, did a half and half. He looked himself up in the table of contents, then went through the book a page at a time, savoring every picture, every technique, every other artisan. When he got to himself he was happy, and right away looked forward to taking the book to show it to the people in the dye house. And to call his daughters in the U.S. to tell them!

Juan holding up his new business card: Traditional Weavers of Guatemala - Their Stories, Their Lives.
Juan holding up his new business card: Traditional Weavers of Guatemala – Their Stories, Their Lives.

A big part of how Juan has been able to keep his jaspe/ikat workshop going for 30 years (and after three generations) is attention to markets, business opportunities, etc. He has done some teaching, some consulting, loves to educate anyone who will listen. So it was not a total surprise when one of his first reactions to the book was that it could be his calling card, that it would look good on his resume. He was also very complimentary of the quality of the book itself, and that it was worth all the time it took to create it.

Jaspe weft in process. Once dyed, the parts covered by wrappings will stay white, the rest will be black.
Jaspe weft in process. Once dyed, the parts covered by wrappings will stay white, the rest will be black.

Something to remember about Juan de Dios is how much he loves what he does. Business fascinates, intrigues, and excites him. But jaspe, from plain white thread to two-directional complex-design cloth, a twenty step process that takes skill to execute and weeks to complete — that is the love of his life. That, and supporting his family, making life good for his wife and three daughters. So while on a visual level Juan de Dios and Ana Pu could hardly be further apart, at a profound level they are the same: they have both made sacrifices to raise their children using the skills that have been passed down in their families for generations, skills that keep fibers in their hands.

Winding a bobbin of weft for the horizontal jaspe designs in the cloth. Every inch of thread in the cloth goes through the fingers of Juan de Dios.
Winding a bobbin of weft for the horizontal jaspe designs in the cloth. Every inch of thread in the cloth goes through the fingers of Juan de Dios and/or other team members.
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2 thoughts on “Juan de Dios Rodas Galvez – Jaspe Artist

  1. This is a beautiful job that he made and is an artist. Congratulations for all the effort on what you do with passion.
    God bless you and give you more chances to show the world how beautiful is Guatemala products and culture.

    Like

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