Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Studio guests

This morning I had guests in my studio. Chela, mother of my son-in-law, Carlos, is visiting from Cuenca, Ecuador in South America. She and Sofia, our shared granddaughter, spent the morning in my studio. Chela is "mi consuegra," which means co-mother-in-law. I love that the Spanish language and culture recognizes a named relationship between the mothers (and fathers) of a married couple.

Chela brought Sofia a doll she made for her that is a "Chola Cuencana" which means an indigenous woman of Cuenca, the city where Chela lives in Ecuador.

She is dressed in the native dress of the Indigenous people of that area, including the traditional Panama hats that are made, not in Panama, but right there in Cuenca. (they are called Panama hats because they were worn by the workers on the Panama canal) Somehow Sofia and Chela came to the conclusion that this lady needed a baby. That would require the resources of my studio.

Chela is a very accomplished seamstress. I have visited her studio in Ecuador. She sews for her own pleasure and also does production sewing of school uniforms to earn a little extra money. She quickly found the fabrics she needed in my stash and whipped out a baby doll in no time at all. Here she is stuffing the tiny body.

Meanwhile Sofia was busy weaving a potholder for her Abuela to take back to Ecuador.

I acted as support staff, fetching whatever was needed.

Here is the baby almost finished.

Chela wasn't very happy with the mouth. My fabric marker was a little too large to control very well. I had a bit of Ecuadorean fabric for the skirt. She added a lace-trimmed shirt as well.

Finished! As Chela was trying to decide about a head covering for the baby I remembered a tiny Panama hat that had been a decoration on the bag when Ray bought a hat in Ecuador years ago. I found it and it fit the baby perfectly!

Would you like to see where Chela lives? Cuenca is a World Heritage Site and the most beautiful city in Ecuador. We have been there a number of times and love it. It is a wonderful place. I found this charming video that will give you a little of its flavor. The background music is a song called, "Chola Cuencana"—like the doll. Click here:


  1. You have saved that little hat all this time just for this little doll baby - you just didn't realize it! How Sophie has grown - they do that, don't they?

  2. What a fun day you had. I love that the three of you were together in your studio. A memory for Sofia, for sure. Her dolls are adorable. I love the photo of Sofia weaving a pot holder.

  3. What a marvelous visit! I would really love to see Ecuador one day. You're lucky to have the perfect excuse to go there. And yes - what is with English, with no name for the in-laws' relationships?

  4. Such a lovely story. Sophia is a very fortunate little girl to have such talented grandmothers.

  5. What a great day. :) I remember making potholders with my abuela on a loom just like that. I love it that they still sell those. I loved making them. I made them faster than anyone wanted to buy me the little fabric rubber bands though. My grandma also made me a fabric doll. I have the pattern. Perhaps it is time for me to make my little niece a doll...

    So glad you had such a fun day!

  6. Those are the best kind of studio guests! I love that you all can spend time together in your creative pursuits.

    BTW, I'm not sure where they stand on in-laws, but the Swedish language has different words for each of the maternal and paternal grandparents. It makes it so much easier to know which set one is talking about.

  7. In yiddish the word is machatunim? Much easier than saying my son in laws parents. Looks like the visit is going along well. I hope Sophia is old enough to remember her Abuela visiting.

  8. Jessica G.6:27 AM

    This is such a sweet story. I am so glad Sofia is getting to spend time with her abuela. The baby doll is adorable.

  9. Spanish language/culture is not alone in having terms for the parents of our childrens' spouses. The words in Yiddish are "machatenester" for the other mother, "machutun" for the father-in-law, and "machetunum" as the plural for the couple.

    Emma's other Nana is mi consuerga - she is Columbian:-)

  10. Terry, This was a timely blog entry as I am just back from Cuenca a couple of weeks ago. The doll is wonderful! My only comment on it is the skirt looks a lot longer than the ones I saw on most of the indigenous women in Cuenca.
    I did love that place!! Hopefully, Fred and I will go together in a year or so.