Friday, July 16, 2010

Horse Hair Weaving by Alba Rosa Sepúlueda Japia ~ International Folk Art Market

Light as a feather, Alba's breathtaking butterflies appear as though they may actually take flight. A closer look and you begin to take in a miniature masterpiece.

Alba Rosa Sepúlueda Japia has been weaving sculptures out of horse hair since the age of seven. She is now one of the foremost weavers in Chile with more than 50 years of experience and countless recognitions.

She was born into a family of artisans in the town of Rari which is known for horse hair weaving. Alba has recently started a cooperative, "Arte en Crin," comprised of 14 artisans from Rari. They use local agave fiber along with horse hair to create their works of art.

I knew before entering the Folk Art Market, that Alba's booth was one I had to see. I was lucky to arrive early on Saturday morning before the crowds. The sculptures all looked so delicate. I had that childlike feeling of wanted to touch them, but thinking I shouldn't. That's when I saw Alba for the first time. She was putting the final touches on her display. I watched as she picked up butterflies one at a time and stretched their wings. This is when I realized that perhaps these creations were more rugged than I expected. I allowed myself to pick up a butterfly and admire it up close.

This is when Alba noticed me and quickly put a little shopping basket into my hands. Not only a fine artist, but a savvy saleswoman, she began to pick up pieces and give them to me. She made sure that I missed nothing. She also noticed the colors I was wearing and brought me necklaces and earrings to match. It was hard to put any of it back down because each and every piece was beautiful.

I wish I could conjure the right words to describe this weaving to you. If you look at the necklaces in the picture at the top of this post, they measure about 34". They each have 20 woven beads that look like perfect little baskets. When you press on these baskets between two fingers, they feel malleable and strong. I weighed a necklace and it barely came to 1/10 of an ounce. Incredible! They have an ethereal quality, but are so well constructed, they can be worn with confidence.

As I write this post, I'm sitting at my desk with a small butterfly pinned to my vest. I feel like she's keeping me company, this little treasure from Chile. Thank you Alba for this charming friend!


Unknown said...

WOW! I've never heard of this - how magical! Really beautiful little treasures - thank you for sharing her work with us! :-D

Zzz said...


kristen said...

wow-these are gorgeous! Thanks so much for sharing them.