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NOVICA Artisan Daniel Vargas

Daniel Vargas

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I was born in Huancayo province in 1984. My parents emigrated there from Ayacucho in the 1980s to flee the terrorism in the region. I'm the third of seven children, and the five youngest were born in Huancayo.

My parents didn't have jobs so they worked making bricks. From a young age, we children helped them. Even though the work wasn't appropriate for a child, it was the only option we had.

"When I was 16, I began helping an artisan who worked in engraving dried mate gourds, a traditional Andean craft. I discovered a talent for this art and worked there until I was 19, when I set up my own workshop. Sales were slow, but I kept perfecting my work and sold mate gourds in the Sunday markets.

"I got married when I was 20. Although I didn't have money, a neighbor went to Argentina for three years and let us live in his home while he was gone. When he returned, he asked for his house and I had no place to go. I managed to get a small piece of land and built a one-room adobe house. My two children were born there — a girl in 2005 and a boy in 2009.

"Once, a non-governmental organization came to Huancayo looking for artisans and, with their guidance, I was able to work more efficiently. Little by little, I've been improving my house and today, we have two floors built of brick and my own workshop here at home. My children go to school and they like mate gourd art. Sometimes they help attach the cords to our ornaments and, when they're older, I'll start teaching them pyroengraving.

"Over time, I've been developing engraved gourds as well as my other designs, and all have motifs inspired in Peru's birds, plants and customs.

"My family and friends consider me a creative person. I like innovation and take great care with the quality of my work. I always want to give my best. It's exciting to know that new friends around the world will see my designs and even get to know a little about me. You have opened new doors for me and I see a better horizon in our future."