Archive for the ‘Mexican Tin Work’ Category

Master artisan José Luz has been creating art out of tin for over fifty years. In the four minute video below I follow José Luz while he works on a new piece.

The resulting piece emerges from many hours of design time, a day and a half in his studio cutting, stamping, pushing and re-working the tin. The result is a piece of texture and softness, a piece of beauty inspired by his love of art, metal and working with his hands, inspired by his deep religious faith.

He calls this piece corazon amoroso de Jesus sacramento.

2011 Corazon Amoroso de Jesus Sacramento from Suzanne da Rosa on Vimeo.

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Cien Años de la Artesania en Hojalata de San Miguel de Allende

An update to the post below – the film has been selected to be shown this Sunday, November 7, 2010 at 6pm on the main stage in the Jardin in San Miguel as part of the opening ceremonies for this year’s feria de lana y laton (wool and brass fair) and on Monday November 8, 7-9pm in the same location.  If you missed Thursday’s show, be sure to come by the Jardin during those times to see it.

The post:

If you are in town this Thursday at 7pm, you can see the video documentary I have made about the history of decorative (and utilitarian) tin work in San Miguel de Allende.

If you live here, or have just visited, you can’t miss the tinkering of tools on metal here.  It’s everywhere, in all neighborhoods.  Literally hundreds, if not a thougsand people or more work in tin here. Over the years, because of purchasing tin work for our store in the U.S., I’ve been going in and out of these shops wondering how it all began.

There are a handful of families that go back exactly one hundred years, to 1910, when a metal worker, Aucensio Llamas moved to San Miguel from Jerez Zacatecas.  For twenty five years he made and repaired milk cans, oil lamps and colanders for making atole.  There was no tourism, no market for decorative or religious tin work.

In the late 1930’s and into the 40’s when Stirling Dickinson arrived and began to bring more foreigners to attend the art school he helped to found, a market for decorative pieces developed along with creative inspiration and eventually an industry that put almost all of San Miguel to work.

I won’t go into the rest because … we’d like you to come see it on Thursday.  Many of the artisan families who are in the movie will be there for the premiere and we’ll have a question and answer afterwards so you can meet the original families, now in their third and fourth generations of family business.

The film includes these men talking about their history in tin work,, the unfolding of an international business market for them along with their personal feelings about their work and how it has changed over the years.  Voices are overlayed with photos and video footage of them creating pieces in their workshops.

These men create some of the most beautiful tin work in San Miguel today.  The documentary combines these men talking about their families, the lean and boom times, what it was like to begin making decorative pieces after doing utilitarian work and what it was life was like here in the early part of the 20th century.  It’s a new perspective on the history of the town, told by the families who lived and grew through the ups and downs of of town economies that are driven by tourism.

The film will be shown at the Santa Ana Theatre at the Biblioteca on Calle Insurgente.  Thursday Nov. 4, 2010 7pm, with an introduction to the artisans after the show.

film duration: 40 minutes.
In the words of the artisans, in Spanish, with English subtitles.

The film is for sale at la Conexion and at the artist booths of Chilo Botes (Cecilio Hernández, Eleazar and Enrique Badillo and Artes de Mexico on the Calzada de la Aurora.  It will also be available through our online store website after November 8th at :  www.mexicanfolkart.com

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Over the years of exporting Mexican Artesania, I have continually been drawn back to the tin artisans who reside not only in San Miguel de Allende, but in Oaxaca, Guanajuato, Celaya, Mexico City.

The malleable quality of tin (hojolata) copper (cobre) and brass (laton) they work in allows the artist to create beautiful repousse, punched and multi layered work.  It is nothing short of miraculous to see a solid surface become bowl like, the shape of animals, trees, hearts.

Most of the work here is still done the old way, hammered on lead plugs or into indentations on their palos – tree stumps with smoothed out indentations from the years of hammering and rolling the ball edge of a hammer around a piece of tin.

This year, I began video interviews with the oldest tin workers.  Those who were here when metal work was only done for utilitarian pieces – milk cans, oil lamps, cooking stoves, utensils for the home.  Those artists who were here before foreigners came to town with ideas for decorative pieces and the money to entice the metal workers to fabricate the first decorative pieces for the home, the pieces that would lead to the metal art you find today.

The project, which has become an obsession of sorts, is coming together, starting with the history of metal and metal arts including artists who have been working in tin for over 40 years, the story of how it happened here in San Miguel de Allende.

Here is a 2 minute short of one of the oldest artists, who remembers what it was like in 1944 when San Miguel de Allende was a town of about 7,000 people,  and no artisan metalwork being done.  It was a time where metal work was of utilitarian purpose, made and carried on the backs of burros to the ranchos to sell.

[Vimeo 14131039]

The entire documentary will be exhibited/shown in the Jardin as a part of the Feria de la Lana y el Laton this November as a tribute to these older artisan families.

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Antique tin boat, powered by a candle.

I’ve recently begun work on a documentary of the tin artistans of Mexico.  Today, I interviewed one of the older families and they showed me this wonderful little tin boat which is powered by a candle.  It actually putt putts around and just makes you smile to watch it go.  Click on the photo below to watch the little video.  As I go along, I’ll be posting short clips of the process of making tin pieces, but for now, here’s a charming little toy boat.

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