The Making of: Mompox

Ever wonder where our fabulous fish necklaces come from?

On a small island hidden on the banks of the Magdalena river are twins Lida and Liliana, hard at work. As young girls, they were often caught sneaking into their father's workshop but were told if they pursued their passion, they would never get married. Today, they run the first almost-all female workshop in the town and dedicate themselves to training and inspiring other young women to master the craft. We spoke to Liliana about her ground-breaking craftmanship. 

"A piece of jewellery in Filigrana takes with it our footprints and feelings as artisans."

The Colombia Collective - Mompox Artisan

How old were you when you made your first piece and what was it?
I was 9 years old, it wasn’t the most beautiful; but for me, it was my best creation.
 
How did you learn your craft?
I learnt from my father. At the beginning he didn’t want to teach me because I was a girl but as the years went by and it became clear my brothers weren't interested - it was easier for me to do the class. I come from a family legacy of Mompox Filligrana that has lasted four generations. Thus far, they have all been men, so my sister and I have changed the course of history as the first ever female goldsmiths.
The Colombia Collective - Mompox Artisan
How long does it take to create each piece?
It depends how complicated the design is; it can range from a week to months. A piece of jewellery in Filigrana takes time to design, prepare the metals, plan the structure, clean the metal, shape the metal, fill the frame, solder the pieces, assemble the pieces and then finally, polish the finished work.
The Colombia Collective - Mompox Artisan
What is the most challenging part of the process?
To translate an idea, design or sketch into an actual creations. It may look good on the page but transforming it to metal is another thing!
 
Can you describe your typical working day?
I wake up at 5am, feed the kids, do the washing and generally prepare for the day before arriving at the workshop for 8am. Once I sit at my table I work non-stop, only getting up to drink water and go to the bathroom. Throughout the day we laugh and tell stories with my colleagues in the workshop. We’ll take a break at 12 to have lunch and start again at 2pm. We don’t finish work at 6pm, sometimes later depending on the workload.
The Colombia Collective - Mompox Artisan
What inspires you to create the intricate designs?
Nature, the island of Mompox, the river, antique designs, the feelings/emotions that I have at the time. I also must be aware of trends and fashions of the time - not just local but global too. To design is like having a child, you model it and then you give it life.
 
How many people do you oversee in the workshop?
I supervise 11 people, some are official goldsmiths, some are apprentices. Everyday we teach and learn from each other. With my 30 years of experience, I am considered a master.
The Colombia Collective - Mompox Artisan
What does your craft mean to you?
Craftsmanship, jewellery, is my life. It’s a life decision that I have made and am proud of - an accumulation of so many years of work, of sacrifices and joys that continue today. A piece of jewellery in Filigrana takes with it our footprints and feelings as artisans.
The Colombia Collective - Mompox Artisan

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