Magical Forest Beings

by Fundación Huilo Huilo, 10th junio 2019

Contact: Eliana Sepulveda - 9 4449 6292


Introduction

The Seres Magicos del Bosque workshop began on the 7th of February in 2007. This “taller” (workshop), was the first initiative sponsored by the Huilo Huilo Foundation to further empower the women of Neltume. The mission of this workshop has been, since its inception, to create dolls that represent the spirit and soul of the trees and flowers of the local forest.


Our History

It all began with an announcement on the local radio station calling for anyone interested in the process of creating dolls. Patricia Maragaño, a teacher from Santiago, organized an exhibit to show off the many designs in the local Café del Bosque. Those who attended consisted of mainly mothers accompanied by their children and nieces and nephews, totaling around 60 people for the first every “taller.” With time, however, the total number shrank due to the need of fine motor skills. From the original 60, only 12 were left to be fully trained in the techniques of doll creation.

The work was not easy by any means. Their teacher was demanding, but the group of 12 craftswomen persisted and began to build and sell dolls inspired by the Montaña Magica and the surrounding forest. The dolls took shape into elves and fairies, helped by the original drawings from Soledad Castaño, another teacher. The first inspiration was Seedbag, a goblin adorned in seeds and nuts from local trees. The next was “duendita” (the little goblin), a female character representing the women of the forest. And after her came “Calafate” (the little lucky, boy), inspired by a native bush called the “Michay.” Fairies representing the products of the forest were soon added to the list, such as those based off of the ulmo (a tree used by bees to create honey), copihue (the national flower of Chile), amancay (a beautiful orange flower), purple and yellow mushrooms, and Darwin’s frog. Eventually, the list expanded to include other aspects of the forest, such as the huemules, hazelnuts, chestnuts, and the local park rangers. 


Our Products

All of our products are made by hand, with wire providing the structure and cloth, both synthetic cotton and naturally dyed wool, adorning each model in the appropriate colors. Each model is made in four sizes to exemplify the thematic diversity of the dolls. Each product is complex, taking anywhere between 30 and 50 hours in total to create. Natural materials collected by hand in the local forest are always used to the maximum. 

The economic impact these dolls have had on the artisans has been enormous. Most artisans have been able to better their households as a result. Others have been able to pay for their children’s or grandchildren’s college education. But the most important impact has been on the women themselves who have been able to change their lives from one based around domestic work to one full of creative activities and a deeper connection to the natural world of the region. 

The products have also inspired the region’s population during the annual “Festival of the Forest,” a celebration that promotes the natural environment with parades, artistic exhibits, and fashion contests for children based on the magical elves and fairies. It is common now to see Christmas trees decorated with the magical beings of the forest, often times placed in the center of attention. These dolls have been adopted by the community as expressions of the human connection they have to the forest, allowing each aspect of the environment to have its own representation to promote the history and value of the ecosystem.


Where To Find Our Products

1. Café del Bosque
2. Café del Duende
3. Cafetería de la Selva Patagonica de la Montaña Mágica


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