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Volume III:
DIWATA

The Inspiration

     The third volume for Una Artesana, titled "Diwata", is inspired by the legend of Maria Makiling.

     In popular retellings, Maria Makiling was once the Tagalog Diwata (goddess) Dian Masalanta. As Dian Masalanta, she was revered as the goddess of love, childbirth and peace. Dian Masalanta loved humanity, so much so that she fell in love with a mortal man. This sacrilege angered the gods, and they banished her to earth. This did not trouble the goddess and she eventually came to settle on Mount Makiling.

     During the Spanish colonial period she became known as Maria Makiling, a diwata, which in modern Filipino means "forest nymph" or "fairy" rather than "goddess". She is the protector of Mount Makiling, a dormant volcano in Luzon. To this day there are still stories and superstitions told of Maria Makiling by the folk who live by her domain.

Maria Makiling statue

     In most stories, Maria Makiling is said to be a classic Filipina beauty with long black hair and a morena complexion, clad all in white. Sometimes she falls in love with the men who roam her forest. Those who get lost on the mountain are said to have been lured by the diwata and taken to her home to live the rest of their days in matrimonial bliss.

     More than a beauty, Maria Makiling is also known to be kind and generous. The trees in her forest bear large fruits, which she allows those who are hungry to eat. In olden days villagers would also ask her for remedies for ailments, and she would gift them ginger from her garden which would later turn to gold.

 

     As protector of her mountain domain she can be fierce and does not look kindly on those who are greedy and cruel. Even now, those who visit Mount Makiling are warned not to harm wildlife, steal plants, or litter. Those who do will be cursed by the diwata to roam the forest, lost forever. It is this aspect of Maria Makiling as nature spirit and protector that inspired this collection.

About the Collection
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     After reading the story of Maria Makiling and learning about her role as protector of nature, I started to look more closely at the plants around me. It was then that I really began to appreciate their beauty. This collection, more than anything else, is about seeing and appreciating the wonder of nature.

     We have so many beautiful blooms here in the Philippines, but I chose to highlight our more common native blooms, the ones you and I grew up with here in the Philippines. I think we tend to take them for granted because we see them everyday, never really giving them a second glance. I wanted this collection to highlight their beauty, and to evoke memories of our childhoods – of simpler, sweeter times.

     Diwata is my most personal collection yet. Studying the real-life counterparts of the flowers featured in this collection brought back so many memories! Going up to my dad's hometown for Holy Week, visiting Baguio in the summer, playing in my grandma's garden catching ladybugs, making flower crowns with my sisters. Each piece in this collection is full of those memories – memories you might also have from growing up in the Philippines. I hope these pieces remind you of home whenever you wear them.

The Techniques

     This collection features some of the most intricate beadwork I've ever done. The primary technique used here is bead weaving, which tends to be used in more 2D applications. While designing this collection I knew I wanted to mimic the actual structures of the flowers, making them fully 3D. To achieve this I had to do a lot of experimentation, combining different stitches to create each bloom.

     Bead weaving wouldn't cut it for some of the designs though. In bead weaving, beads are woven together with thread. This means that the piece will be somewhat floppy, which wasn't ideal for some of the flowers. And so I learned a new technique: French beading.

     French beading is a combination of wire work and beading. The same glass beads are strung onto a wire, which is then manipulated and shaped by hand to create various shapes. Pliers cannot be used to shape the petals because the force will break the beads. While this technique is generally faster than bead weaving, it does require more force and effort to create intricate shapes. My hands were definitely sore after making countless experiments, but this technique turned out to be perfect to achieve some of the floral structures.

     Working on this collection really pushed me creatively. It forced me to step out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to take risks. And because of that I rediscovered the joy of making, the reason I started Una Artesana in the first place. I hope you love these floral jewels as much as I did creating them!

- Susanne    

Diwata is sold out.

 

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