Maleni Cruz Uc
Panama Hats from Bécal, Campeche
To Contact: This artisan’s page is part of the Feria Maestros del Arte website, a non-profit organization providing a yearly venue for Mexican folk artisans to come together to sell their work. If you wish to purchase the artisan's work other than at the Feria, you MUST contact them directly.
Calle 32 No. 175
The manufacturing process begins with cultivating these two sorts of palm. Before the palm stalks open, they are cut and sliced in stripes, two, three or four, depending upon the weaving intended, very fine or not. Then they are dehydrated and treated with sulfur, to bleach the fibers, bunched together and eventually dyed with natural dyes or anilins.
During the dry season, the bunches are left at least for a day in the cave carved out in most of the houses’ yards of the village for working with the palms, so that the humidity permits the weaving without breaking the fibers. In the rainy season, weavers may also work outside the cave. The hats, once they are woven, are taken to get “ironed” in a hat press. The press has a hat form that is heated up to 120 Celsius, where they are pressed for a few minutes to get their final shape.
Maleni Cruz Uc, the granddaughter of the famous master Andres Uc Dzul, who passed away in 2004 and who was famous for the fine weaving of his Panama hats, learned from her grandfather and has become one of the best weavers in the region. She weaves hats, bags, little birds, lamps and other ornaments that she refers to as “curiosities”.