We have a humble life, but being able to continue creating and being close to my family is all that matters.
– Juliano Martins
˜*˜ This is the story of Gift Brazil collective members ˜*˜
From: JacareÌ, São Paulo
Current location: Bichinho, Minas Gerais
Making: Hand-carved wooden miniature houses
Technique: Wood and acrylic paint
Nearly a decade ago, former factory worker Juliano Martins never imagined that craft would become his livelihood. Until he met Adriana, who had been working as a sculptor and painter ever since she was a teenager.
“I had dropped out of school as a teenager to be able to work. Years later, I started studying again through an adult education program and that’s where I met Adriana,” Juliano says.
“We were together for a few months when she asked me: why don’t we start working together? I knew nothing about craft, but thought, why not? She taught me the basics and I found out that I really enjoyed making things,” he remembers.
- The wooden “casinhas” (little houses) hand-carved by Juliano and painted by Adriana
However, the couple’s industrial hometown of JacareÌ was not a good environment to live out of craft. So when the duo heard that Bichinho, a little village in Minas Gerais, was where the artisans where headed to, Adriana and Juliano sold everything thwy owned and moved to a different state, over 400 kilometers away from everything they knew.
In Bichinho, the couple bought a small plot of land, where they built a house that doubles up as a studio and home to the family of four children and a grandchild. There, they make and sell their signature hand-carved casinhas (little houses), which are inspired on the humble neighbourhoods Adriana and Juliano have lived, as well as favelas (slums), where simple people still manage to lead a happy life despite the difficulties.
- Adriana Martins painting wood sculptures at her workplace, which is also her home
“It is not easy to live out of craft, you can only do that if you have a reputation in the marketplace. In the beginning, we were selling to shops that would resell our items, but there were ups and downs,” says Juliano, who adds that the the weeks preceding Christmas are the most difficult for them.
- Juliano Martins carving a new wooden villa: “Being near my family is all that matters”
The artisan points out that, even though one would have thought craft fans would buy handmade for Christmas, but period between late November and early March is actually quite slow for the couple and all the crafters from Bichinho. “But we are managing to ride out that slow season because we are working a lot,” the artisan says.
“There are challenging times, but I really enjoy being able to work for myself. I live and work 24/7 with my wife and can see my children growing, I can close the studio on Sundays and play with them, go to church,” Juliano adds.
“We have a humble life, but being able to continue creating and being close to my family is all that matters to me. I could be living in a bigger town, working at a better paid job, but I can tell you for sure that I have found something I really like doing and a life that I really enjoy living. And no money in the world can buy the happiness I feel everyday.”
Click here to check Adriana and Juliano’s items for sale on Gift Brazil