For the early birds practising parchment this craft, we do not need to introduce ourselves, but for the ones who stepped in later, we believe we need to explain who we are..
We, Martha Ospina and Tiemen Venema were the ones who brought parchment craft to Europe and a bit later to the rest of the world.
The management of the Parchment Academy by Pat Murphy has approached us with the request whether we would be happy to take the position of being Patrons of the Academy. Our answer was; thank you so much; it is an honour; with great pleasure we accepted this position. With our support/contribution we will try to contribute, share the fun and pleasure around this wonderful creative craft; a fact is already for quite some years we are retired.
Martha tells her story and I Tiemen, each by turn.
Tiemen: since around 2010 we both gradually stopped to be active in the craft as such and the business part, it had to do with my age. My younger son did continue the Pergamano business. But all is still in our hearts and we love to bring back beautiful remembering with pictures and stories. We remember many wonderful parchment people around the world and sure many will remember us.
Question: From where comes this technique with parchment paper? For me, Martha, I learned it at the primary school; I was born and educated in Colombia in South America; my native language is Spanish but later I learned English and Dutch, I live in Holland. How come?
The romantic part: I, Martha had a dream, which was to see more of the world than only South America; I was thinking visiting United States. I was curious and interested to learn. I worked at a Hospital in Bogota, the capital of Colombia, and talked about my dream with a colleague who seemed to have the same interests. “O.K., we go together, will be more save and more pleasant. We started to set sufficient money aside for a 3 weeks tour by plane and trains not to the States but to Europe.
My present husband, Tiemen; a Dutchman, worked in those years in Swedish company, in the sale department. He speaks now for himself now:
For 5 years I lived alone, I missed a partner; a wife to live together and to share all the good and the bad things which you normally will encounter in life. I hoped that one day I would meet my new love; waiting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 years. I did not do anything special to find a new partner but just waiting for that special day and that blessed encounter and it happened!! I tell you about it.
One day in 1984 I travelled with a work colleague to an international fair in Frankfurt. We decided to make the journey by train. During the journey, my colleague went along the corridor of the train and on his return suggested I made the same trip to take the opportunity of looking in to see the occupants of the next compartment. This made me curious and when I did I saw two charming young ladies .I stopped and said Good morning ladies, how are you today, on holiday?” One of them (Martha), not shy at all said, “we are on a holiday trip for the first time in Europe, today we go to Frankfurt and afterwards to Italy”. I was at once impressed by Martha; her eyes, her open face talking so frankly, not afraid in spite of the fact that her English was limited at the time. I said: “Is not it your boyfriend with you?? Her answer: “I do not have a boyfriend”.
Thinking of that moment I get emotional again, because that moment changed the rest of my life for the better until today. We talked and talked; it was an happy and general conversation. I invited my colleague into the compartment too and so we continued our travel together to Frankfurt station.
There we offered the 2 ladies to take one taxi together to the centre, first to our hotel and then I guided them to their close-by hotel. All the time I was thinking: I do not want to let them, or better say....let her, Martha, go....what can I do? I have to find some excuse or proposal to continue the contact. What creative ideas I can find?
I must say, I liked that tall man from the first moment of the encounter. But what do I know about him? Nothing, only that feeling: this man is very charming, kind, and helpful!!
And then when we arrived at our hotel, he asked us if both of you would like to go to dinner
together tonight, we have such a nice contact. But, after consulting my girlfriend, I said: ‘yes, ok, how nice of you, we accept your offer with
pleasure!’ But we were very careful and friendly. We had a wonderful dinner together with a lot of humour because of our limited English.
It was all funny: we were in Germany, in a Yugoslavian restaurant, 2 Dutch men and two Colombian ladies, struggling with English. They asked: ‘what do you like to eat Tok Tok or Boo Boo?’.
(Tieman explained that he was having fun using animal noises to describe chicken or beef )
To make this part complete: At the end of the dinner, I brought the two ladies to their hotel and I said to Martha it would be very nice if we exchange telephone numbers, so that later we can have a chat and look back. And Martha agreed and so we did.
I also made some big steps in our story.
As soon as being back in Colombia in the capital, Bogota, I contacted Tiemen by phone and in spite of our language problem we had a charming conversation, both happy to have contact again.
I think it was in the 3rd telephone contact that I said to Tiemen: ‘are you interested to come to my place and learn about my country Colombia?’ I was surprised about his quick reaction: his answer right away was: ‘oh, thanks so much, wonderful idea, lets plan it.
So, it happened, half a year after that special encounter in Germany, I was on my way to Colombia.
On board the plane I had a conversation with a gentleman, and I talked about my adventure and also told that I had forgotten my notes with the address and telephone number of my friend in Bogota. He said: ‘you might have a problem: perhaps she will not be at the airport; you know they are Latins, easy talking’. But I did not get nervous; I had 100 percent trust in my new
At the arrival, waiting for my suitcase, I looked and looked….at the bunch of people outside, do I see ‘my’ Martha? No, no… yes, yes!! She is there waving to me… of course she was there!
I had a wonderful time in Bogota, the capital of Colombia together with Martha.
One day she showed me her favourite craft: Tarjeteria Espanola (Spanish card making). I reacted: “how interesting, never seen it before, I like it…” and that was it.
Back home in my house alone I was thinking all the time about Martha and asking myself what to do and then: you know what? I am going to invite her to The Netherlands so we can really find out if we may be a couple for the rest of our lives and so I did.
I was so surprised at his invitation that quickly after Tiemen was in my country. I wanted to go. I talked to my parents who said: ‘you are a clever girl, so you do what you think you wish to do’. And one year after Frankfurt I arrived at Amsterdam airport where Tiemen was waiting for me.
One year later we were married, and I tried to settle with Tiemen in a city close to Amsterdam. First of all, I tried to quickly learn the Dutch language and get my Dutch citizenship, secondly, I tried to find work. I did several short jobs; one was with handicapped children; it all helped me to learn Dutch and to get accustomed to this different part of the world.
Luckily, I brought with me from Colombia materials for my favourite handy craft, Tarjeteria. I had brought some perforating tools, scissors, embossing pads, and patterns. When alone at home I could do my favourite craft. I don’t think I am shy, and I like to communicate with people. So, one day I met a lady also interested in crafts and I showed my craft to her: she was so surprised.
She said. ‘oh…, how nice, never seen this beautiful craft before, please can you teach me that technique’? You know what happened? In a couple of weeks’ times, I was teaching 5 ladies parchment craft at my home. A wonderful experience: because I was welcome, I was wanted, I was appreciated! I had things to do, I had got friends, I had learned the language. It could not be
One of my students one day said: why not make contact with the “Peoples University” (a local Academy teaching languages, crafts, etc). I did and you know what: I got accepted as a teacher in my speciality: Tarjeteria Espanola, but with Tiemen we found a better name: ParchmentCraft!
Wow, I was so happy that I had got settled in The Netherlands that quickly.
How nice that my wife found her way with me in her new country so rapidly. I had my timeconsuming job, so this was a very happy development.
Tiemen: I was so happy with my new partner and also concerned about getting her happy in The Netherlands. Here we have a completely different culture compared to Colombia and that made all very interesting and challenging.
One day I asked Martha; “can you do cycling??” “Oh, yes… I can”, and I bought her a bicycle. Then one day: let’s go on our bikes…. Martha tried to start and fell down right away. “Oh, be careful….” happily nothing serious happened that time. Then a bit later: I was at my normal job at a different city, when Martha called me; “at what time you will be at home??” I could hear that something was wrong. “What happened? Something wrong??” “No, just to let you know I fell off the bicycle!” I could hear that it was serious. “I will leave work now and see you in half an hour”.
At home: Martha explained, I was with my bike with a friend and when I headed back home, I fell and hit my head badly on the tarmac. People came to me and helped me, they brought me to a nearby doctor’s post. They checked me there and said: nothing seriously and brought me home and I
got into my bed. Then Tiemen arrived and was very worried about me. He said: “I do not like this, I want to do a check: follow my hand when I move it over your eyes: left…right, left…. right”, and so we did.
Tiemen concluded that I had concussion because my eyes made an unsteady movement, and he was right as it showed later at another doctor’s consult.
Conclusion: Holland is a cycle country where children are almost born with a cycle; in Colombia not!
Martha: Back to parchment craft: from where originates this craft?
First, I want to tell where I learned the craft in my country Colombia, I was fourteen. My primary school was a Catholic school with nuns teaching, one of the lessons was about learning handy crafts. The main thing was learning the craft: Tarjeteria Espanola. As I explained earlier: literally it means
Spanish card making. We made cards from parchment paper and for any type of celebrations: Christmas, birthday, a baby born, etc. The only thing I remember when asking where it came from, the answer was: It is from Spain. Nobody knew anything more than that.
In Holland I had a lot of pleasure teaching the craft to some neighbours and friends. When Tiemen was at home he helped me a lot with the language. There was always fun because of language misunderstandings. Because my students were so happy learning the craft, they accepted that things
were not perfect or professional. Materials for the craft was complicated: as I could not find those in Holland or Europe, Tiemen ordered them for me from Colombia. Of course, my few students were happy to pay for those materials and a bit for the lessons.
Tiemen: I tried to do my utmost to help my love to get settled in my country Holland, a country with a quite different culture compared to Colombia. Main difference: Colombians (Latin’s) are more social compared to the Dutch. I was, and still, I am today, very happy with that quality of my dear wife. In business communication is vital. Often, I was in the direct neighbourhood when Martha was teaching at home. I was astonished about the enthusiasm of the ladies about parchment craft. It made me think to take the craft as a small business for Martha. And so, we talked together and concluded that there was a serious possibility and made a basic plan. First: what will be the official name of the craft: as I said earlier: Parchment Craft. It is a good international name. Secondly: we need a supplier for the basic tools and parchment paper. But first we needed a good brand and thought quite some time about that and then we found a good one: Pergamano! Wow that sounds good!
Why this name: well, parchment in Latin is: pergamino. The craft is done by hand; hand in Spanish is mano.
So, we took Perga and mano together and that makes: Pergamano…. handiwork with parchment.
We could register this brand in The Netherlands, hurray!
Martha: We needed qualified teachers, because how could I alone teach hundreds (or thousands?) of interested ladies in Holland? So, a network of qualified teachers should be set up.
So, we started to talk about Registered Pergamano Teachers, trained and approved by me, master teacher Martha Ospina.
I forgot to tell that from the beginning in Holland I kept my family name Ospina instead of taking my husband’s name: Martha Venema Ospina sounds exotic which attracts attention, we thought.
I remember the many hours that Tiemen and I were talking and thinking about how to set up our small business and how to make a start on my Pergamano business. One problem was there was no capital to finance the operation in spite of the fact we wanted to start small. We went to the bank
with our plan and asked for a small loan. Result: denied!!! No sleep…
Martha: From the beginning Tiemen and I agreed about a quite clear split of work between the two of us. Tiemen would take care of the availability of parchment paper and the other materials needed like embossing tools and pads and paints and I would take care of the set-up of teacher training.
Because it was quite clear from the beginning, that I alone would never be able to train all the ladies in Holland who were interested. So, I became the head of the teacher academy as Master teacher and all teachers who passed would become: Certified Pergamano Teachers and would work on their
own according to my system.
Tiemen and I discussed and agreed about the way we wanted to make parchment craft known in Holland and to turn it into a success. Tiemen always was there to give his opinion but sometimes too much and make me say: “Tiemen… enough… that is my terrain, basta!!”
Happily, we could work well together; both of us had and still have enough patience to listen to each other and look for a mutual agreement.
Tiemen: The purchase of the basic materials for the craft from Colombia was an option for only a very short time and then we had to get them made in Holland and Europe. Only the inks (Tintas in Spanish meaning inks) and the paints (Perga colours) we continued to buy from Colombia. We did this for reasons of colours and quality.
The needle tools, tracing pen, 3 types of embossing tools, scissors, embossing pads we all could have made in Holland or Europe through a small company after searching the market.
It was hard work, imagine I had my normal work with a company and in the evening, and weekends on top of that all the work to get started with our Pergamano undertaking. And then, you cannot imagine; one day my boss said: “we are going into a big reorganisation and we will dismiss some employees, I am so sorry!” I reacted: “talk to me” and so he did with the result
that I would leave the company on good conditions. A miracle…. on a moment that I wished to leave, it happened. From that moment I could concentrate 100% on our parchment craft business, how nice!
Martha: We got a hint from somebody who said, “talk to a local well-known craft material distribution company in Holland, perhaps they will be interested in the craft and take the parchment materials into their business” and so we did. The owner, a very friendly and helpful person, was indeed interested in parchment craft; he reacted like many: “oh, how nice, never seen it!!”
Tiemen: We told that company owner about our problem that we couldn’t get a loan from the bank. He said: “the problem maybe they know nothing about craft business: give me a name and a telephone number and I will call them” and so we did; after a couple of days: we had our loan from the bank!!
Martha: Parchment craft you do from designs… so I had to make files with designs for tracing on parchment paper and so I did. One year later, I was able to make my (I think in 1989) my first small design book with the name: “Cards made from parchment paper. (Mary:- Martha is quite right…the book was published in 1989….got it sitting on my shelf and it’s in Spanish)
It all was hard work, but the enthusiasm and the support of so many nice and helpful people around me gave me the energy and the inspiration to work almost seven days a week. I felt quite well, why my craft (but basically any handy craft) was successful. People, but especially ladies, (you know
ladies are from Venus) look for an excuse to meet and to catch up. A craft is a good reason (excuse) to call each other and make an appointment to meet, to chat and at the same time to enjoy their favourite handy craft. And importantly parchment craft was totally a new craft!
When you would ask me today (I am retired now) what is the most important aspect that the Pergamano brought into my life, my answer will be: the many fantastic relations and friendships with so many nice people around the world. And the cooperation together, later more about that.
One day the owner of that craft material distribution company called me and said: Martha I would like to ask you to do a Pergamano demonstration on a craft business fair in the city of Utrecht. He said it was to find out the interest of his customers, the craft shop owners from Holland. I was honoured and of course said: “yes, with pleasure I will do that!”
The result of that happening was extremely positive but raised our problem: how to cope with that quickly increasing demand of materials.
In the beginning we worked from our apartment, then we hired our first secretary and then the second. So, we looked for space and found it in a free apartment in the same building and same floor where we lived. So, we had our office with 2 employees on walking distance!
So far part 4.
Dear readers: we hope you will understand that our story will not be complete, or the time order of happenings may not always be exactly correct. We write our story straight from our remembering, which we think will not damage the general content.