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Explosive growth and a diminishing supply of an historical item this city was famous for. That is the situation discovered in an extended visit to this city during our summer in Ecuador.
A brief visit in 2006 gave no clue to this predicament as the bread dough figures at that time seemed to be in great abundance with many shops and people involved.
Times change, and with it always come the surprises, such as the discovery that the very families that were pioneers for this amazing handicraft in Calderon more than fifty years ago, suddenly stopped all production within the family.
A family relative, Cecilia Trujillo, who began work in this small industry at the age of 10, is now one of the few determined to keep this industry alive in Ecuador.
My recent visit with Cecilia shed light on what has taken place not only with the changes within the city of Calderon, but new designs and processes in the making of these unique figures along with the many improvements made since my first exports of over 40 years ago.
Additions of a dough made with corn starch have created a completely new look, as well as facial features lending a somewhat animated appearance to these figures. The change is to me, nothing short of fantastic.
The colors, design, and appeal have been greatly enhanced with these changes. Added to that are other designs which include miniaturized nativity scenes placed in a half walnut shell.
The detail really is something to see. combinations with other elements such as tagua, are just a few of the innovations being added to the variety available.
Of course, the classic Christmas ornaments that caught the fancy of buyers in some of the largest department stores over 40 years ago, are now even better and if possible, more attractive and attention getting.
While it was sad to hear of the decline of crafters still involved in this art form, at the same time there is the sense of doing all that is possible to promote, rather than throw ups hands in defeat to expose what is truly unique about these intriguing figures.
So there is more to follow with video and commentary on history, process and the detail that goes into the production of these figures made from dough.
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