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Chilean jeweler gives back to two countries — with one heart

By Monica Peña
La Voz de Austin
AUSTIN — Born in Arica, Chile, Teresa Basa and her family received political asylum when she moved to the United States at the age of 20 in 1991. Teresa earned a BA from UC Berkeley and a Masters Degree in California State East Bay.

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After a seven year career in nonprofit management, Teresa launched her new career in jewelry design. “Coming up with new concepts, managing a business, selling and promoting my work has been challenging, but they all compose very necessary pieces of this great puzzle called business ownership,” reflects Basa.

Following a series of events included her father’s diagnosis with cancer, the death of her last surviving grandparent, a 40th birthday, and more, Basa realized she needed to make some changes in her life. After learning about metal work at Daugherty Art School,

Teresa was able to identify a new passion.

“Learning to create jewelry, I began purchasing equipment to produce pieces on my own. Creating art is a work in progress. I am always searching for new ideas, inspiration and ways to do things” Teresa recalled.

Keeping true to her South American roots, Basa’s designs mixes silver and other semi-precious metals with natural elements such as stones, leather, horse hair weaving and enamel to produce an interesting final product.

“Personally, incorporating horse hair weaving into a piece of jewelry was a natural way to honor my Chilean heritage. I have been around horse hair weaving or crin all my life,” explains Basa on the over 200 years old technique of Crin weaving, a form of art that is local to the area where her parents grew up and where they vacationed yearly growing up near the Andes Mountains in central Chile.

Teresa works with the Chilean foundation called Maestra Madre, which aims to preserve the art form from extinction while the women weavers become financially independent and contribute to the economical success of their families.

“This is a delicate and intricate technique passed on from generation to generation. The hair is extracted from the mane of the horse and dyed with vegetable colors. I work directly with a foundation in Chile aiming to resurrect this extraordinary technique, ” stated Basa.

At this year’s Austin Fashion Week, Teresa will be in attendance and stated, “I have learned about the tremendous contribution of AFW to Austin’s fashion industry. I am very excited about being a part of this great event, since it represents an opportunity to showcase my work and receive feedback from experts in the world of


Basa lives with her husband Fernando in Round Rock, Texas. They have three sons, Benjamin (12), Sebastian (10) and Thomas(8). For more information on Teresa

Basa and her pieces:

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