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Multicolored scarves, bags, hammocks, tapestries, ponchos, hats and blankets are present in abundance from Peru, Mexico, Guatemala and Ecuador. The Oré family from Peru stand out for their sensitive Christmas-themed ceramics, which combine the sensitivity and techniques inherited from the peoples that inhabited that region and who already had a long tradition in pottery-making long before the arrival of Europeans in America. Their Nativities, with llamas in place of camels and biblical characters with Indian features, have been quite successful.

Among the Cuban exhibitors, it is virtually impossible to pass by Puyalena’s stand without stopping to admire his beautiful majolica tableware. Meanwhile, the latest additions to Felipe and Manolo Fontes’s well-known minimalist glazed ceramic spheres include playing cards, dice, balls, dominoes, all of which have been made with a great economy of expressive resources and are perfect for decorating a corner in the home. Those who prefer bright colors should check out the collection of young artisan Islay Correoso, who has something for all tastes, from the traditional designs of stained glass lampshades, including a “Cubanization” of Tiffany decorative glass and metal objects.

Much attention has been attracted by ??Nancy Pelegrín’s idea of turning her stand into an extension of her workshop, with tables and sewing machines, affording the prospective buyer the unique opportunity to order a custom-made garment and actually have a hand in its confection. For my part, I am still dazzled by the splendid needlework of the accomplished embroiderers and knitters from the city of Trinidad in Central Cuba, as well as the conventional clothes in linen or cotton with fine pleats by Confecciones Quitrín based in Old Havana. Meanwhile, designers Mario Freixas and Jacqueline Fumero manage to insert international fashion trends into Cuban traditional dress.

Given that much of the furniture endlessly repeats the traditional Cuban country chairs made of wood and hide, or the wood and wickerwork design scheme in rocking chairs, I was thankful for the modernity of Fernando Velázquez’s furniture beautifully finished with ceramic; Blondin’s synthetic and bold pieces; the ones made by Paco and Anette; and the pieces of furniture whose designs are based on works by Nelson Dominguez and which are exhibited at the artist’s stand.

After an exhausting tour, I left PABEXPO with a sweet glazed earthenware coffee set in pink and yellow, a colorful scarf made in Guatemala and a miniature Peruvian-made armadillo. December 2013

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