Monday, June 10, 2013


Painted Wood B'atz Maya Calendar Pendant Necklace
Panajachel, Guatemala is a locale with plenty of sights to see.

Solola Market is the epicenter for the country’s traditional costumes and handicrafts; and the dramatic beauty of Lake Atitlan (a/k/a Lago de Atitlan) is intensified by three volcanoes that surround the body of water.

Guatemala is also home to featured jewelry designer Iliana Hernandez.

Fifty-four year old Hernandez journeyed into jewelry making by way of doll making; the latter of which she began after observing her youngest brother and daughter experiment with the craft.

“Once I came home from work to find the whole house filled with plaster.  My daughter and brother, César, were covered in it.  They were crafting a doll they dressed in cotton.

Some time later, I found a magazine that showed how to craft something similar but not so complicated and it wouldn’t make such a mess,” she recalls.

“I started making prototypes that I showed to my brother and daughter.  We worked together to make them and decided to paint the traditional clothing patterns on the fabric.  That was 18 years ago and a team of workers that includes my 84-year-old mother and other family members continue to be passionate about our dolls.

I started to pursue interest in all things Maya, particularly the Maya calendar.  Inspired by the colors that Maya people use today I started designing jewelry that honors the calendar.”
Pine & Wood Todos Santos Cuchumatan Doll
With Hand-Painted Cotton Fabric
Hernandez fashions palo blanco wood into deceptively simple disc pendant necklaces.  These seemingly basic disc pendants hold life affirming messages in the vividly painted symbols.  

Nature’s protection; bravery and courage; the human life force; and paths of destiny are a few of the profound ideologies represented via glyphs and animal symbols.

The vibrant greens, blues, yellows, and oranges culminate into a strong visual that is fresh, droll and alive!  These pendant necklaces embody vitality and profundity and I like that Hernandez chose to convey this through bold colors. In my opinion this plays up the symbols’ inherent vitality.

“Each piece that we craft is intimately related with Guatemala’s history.  Some of our designs can take hours to paint.  They reveal the Maya vision of the cosmos where every element and detail has a meaning.  Every line and detail of the nahual glyphs is closely associated with Mother Nature.”

Painted Wood K'at Maya Calendar Pendant Necklace
2013 Jewelry Trend Alert:   Although a bit unconventional Hernandez’ disc pendants do fit the geometric trend this year and plenty of bright color pops top it off (another trend for the year).
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