Piña Copper Vessel Michoacan, Mexico hand hammered copper
12 high x 8” diameter
Cobre (copper) has been made by the Purepecha Indians of Central Mexico since pre-Columbian times. When the Europeans arrived in the 16th century, they found the Purepecha making domestic implements and weapons from copper found in local, above-ground mines. A few refinements were introduced, however little has changed in how the copper is worked and finished. Because the copper mines have long been closed, today the smiths gather and melt discarded copper for use in their workshops.
With the labor intensive bonfire method, coppersmiths take the recycled copper and patiently heat and hammer it until the metal is raised, meaning the bowl or vase walls are formed. The smith then takes a special hammer to finish the piece. Depending upon the amount of salt in the air, and how often the copper piece is handled, the metal will oxidize and the finish becomes matte, as the color darkens to deep browns and reds. It can take weeks or even a month to create a single piece.
Today the town of Santa Clara de Cobre in the state of Michoacan is the center of copper creation. Most of the town's population, 82%, is employed in the making of copper items. There are 250 registered workshops in and around the town. The workshops here are family-owned with children learning the trade from their parents.