The art of crochet or the process of creating textiles with the use of hooks to loop thread, yarn, or strands of materials has always been a hobby or pastime. Turned into an artwork or industry is what this family trademark, Abiakak, is all about. Abiakak is the Filipino term, kakaiba, spelled backwards. It means unusual or different.
Adelaida Guia, artist and entrepreneur, mounted her exhibit of mandalas and art expressions in the unusual space of the Porta Vaga Mall, suspended between the buildings.
This was in celebration of Women’s Month last May. An invitation to the exhibit came through my Messenger account, and I apologize for thinking that this was the same as, KaLIKHAsan, the exhibit of the elementary and high school students using natural elements. Looking back at the photographs taken on May 1 made me realize that I missed a conversation with the artist and instead conjured this piece from available online videos.
Mandalas are symbolic expressions of the universe and hold meditative meanings when produced on paper or cloth, online sources state.
According to Invaluable.com, “In Hinduism and Buddhism, the belief is that by entering the mandala and proceeding towards its center, you are guided through the cosmic process of transforming the universe from one of suffering into one of joy and happiness.”
This is perhaps the attractiveness of the seven-foot crocheted works of Guia that are also displayed along Session Road on Sundays. Looking at the pieces bring the viewer some kind of happy feeling apart from the awe at the patience of executing the loops for days on.
Guia says theirs is a family enterprise where her husband, daughter, and son have joined in producing various pieces using the yarn. Her husband began by making dolls, while her children are involved in the trinkets and accessories that are part of the stocks displayed. There are also dream catchers in all hues inspired from the American Indian decorative object from a ring with a net of strings across it and feathers at the end of the tassels to protect young children from nightmares.
She joined the world of crocheters in the city when she trained under the Department of Trade and Industry and earned P7,000-worth of yarn as support, she said in a video. Although she was already hooked to crocheting as a child and turned to this when business took a bad turn for the family, they are bouncing back through the handcrafted items.
The versatility of crocheting compared to knitting enables it to be a medium for art. There are crochet artists like Polish artist Agata Oleksiak who used it for bicycles, Singaporean Kelly Limerick who invented the crochet genre called kimo kawaii or Japanese for cute and freaky, and Australian Margaret Wertheim and Christine Wertheim in their Crochet Coral Reef that responds to climate change. Similarly, Guia had art pieces that were commentaries on nature using crocheted free forms.
I remember that this craft can also be taken up by men, a military officer at that. The tension of the loops and chains in the doilies shows the meticulousness of the crocheter compared to women. My good friend, Lani Estras, is an artist in this craft who makes household decorations, curtains, scarves, and clothes with threads. There are also practical things like these that are sold by the Guia family.
Abakiak is indeed an artform that cannot be produced in duplicates. The Guias have the enjoyment of doing what they like and earning from it. Our bonus is appreciating this handicraft and bringing it home.
– Nonnette C. Bennett