Copper Sinks in Santa Clara Del Cobre, Michoacán - West Wind Hardwood

Wood…..Copper.  Copper…..Wood.   Not much in common with the exception that both are natural resources; both allow much expression of design and beauty; both call to Jan and Shelley.

This past March knowing that we were returning to the town of Pátzcuaro after 5-years, we came with measurements and a plan to return to the Village of Santa Clara Del Cobre.  The arts and crafts skills in the villages around Lake Pátzcuaro and elsewhere in Michoacán have been passed down to this day, becoming more finely honed with each successive generation, producing craftsmen who are among the finest in the country.

The oft-asked question and answer of “Why does each town in Michoacán have its own handicrafts?” lies in the history of this area and, in particular, of the efforts of a Spanish priest almost five hundred years ago.  Vasco de Quiroga trained originally as a lawyer; later took holy orders arriving in the New World in 1531, already in his sixties.

To encourage specialization, and limit direct competition between villages, “Tata” Vasco allocated specific crafts to specific places, a pattern that continues to the present. The particular handicraft developed in each village also reflects the availability of local raw materials such as bulrushes needed for mats, or clay for pottery. On account of the fine quality of local clays, the making of ceramics was encouraged in the villages of Tzintzuntzan, Patamban, Santa Fe de la Laguna, Capula and Pinícuaro. Ironworking and locksmithing were introduced in San Felipe de los Hereros; quilting and embroidery in San Juan de las Colcahas, and so on.

Among the better known places to seek out particular handicrafts are:

  • Angangueo: woolen items
  • Cuanajo: wooden chests and furniture
  • Erongarícuaro: wooden furniture, earthenware
  • Ihuatzio: petate mats
  • Jarácuaro: palm hats (woven)
  • Paracho: guitars and stringed instruments ** Refer to Newsletter #35 and Newsletter #36
  • Pátzcuaro: wool, lacquer work, silver jewelry, toys, etc
  • Quiroga: painted trays and bowls, leather goods, wooden toys
  • Santa Fe de la Laguna: pottery
  • Santa Clara del Cobre: copper items (housewares, miniatures)
  • Tzintzuntzan: wood, pottery, straw decorations and toys
  • Uruapan: lacquer work
  • Zirahuén: wood and cloth dolls

We’d had sporadic contact with a manufacturer of all-things copper and so armed with a Google map we set off with our friends, Glen and Louise.  Surprisingly……NOT…….we couldn’t find the street and the map was vague.  Up and down the streets we drove; windows down when Jan heard steady hammering.  Hmm.  We stop and I’m shoved out the door to attempt my famous and most bestest Spanglish.  Luckily two men were just walking out the door, so I stopped them, attempting to ask if they were open to the public.  I was well into the conversation before I realized we were speaking English.  Eureka!!  This was a factory – not typically open to the public; their market the US but they were thrilled to take our business.

 

In we went, sat down and negotiated the cost – no deposit needed.  We insisted!
We couldn’t have purchased one sink at home for the cost of these two including delivery.

Three weeks later; we’d only been home a day or so, we’d received an email from Victor saying the order was finished and he was shipping.  I said but we have to pay, please forward your bank transfer information.  After a bit of back and forth with the details, and two weeks later, money was sent and received.  That very next day, the sinks arrived.  Who does business like that!

Thank you so very much Victor for the skilled workmanship and your trust in human nature.

His last email to us was this:

Thanks, my pleasure, I like my work very much because even when we know the shapes and designs we never know what colors we will get in the copper due to the firing process that we do to it, so that is exciting, every piece is unique, so that is what makes copper special.

Thanks for all your positive comments, that is my job to make people happy making sure they get what they want, whenever you come to my town I will be happy to see you guys, we might be in a bigger place so email me and if you have friends asking about your sinks, don’t forget to talk to them about us!!!!

 Gracias por sus comentarios positivos!!!!! 

And that’s what we’re doing, telling our friends and colleagues.  Let me know if we can broker more business for Victor!!  Send me an email at shelley@westwindhardwood.com.

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Stay tuned for Jan’s Day Off
Oh let’s say……in maybe in three years or so for the installation of our wonderful copper sinks.

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