MEXICAN HAND-HAMMERED COPPER TABLE TOPS - From start to finish
Mexican hand-hammered copper comes from Santa Clara del Cobre in the state of Michoacan located in the P’urhépecha plateau area of Mexico. Copper has been worked in this area since the pre-Hispanic times. The P’urhépechas were the most advanced in metallurgy which is the reason they were never conquered by the Aztecs. Today, it is said that 10,000 hands work copper in Santa Clara. Statistically, over 80% of the 38,000 population work in the copper industry.
Santa Clara became the most important copper smelting area in New Spain; however, the mines were tapped out in the mid- 20th century. Today, 400,000 tons of used copper arrive in Santa Clara each week for smelting and production.
The following photos and commentary show the involved, hand process in the making of a copper table top.
Click on any photo to begin slide show with commentary.
Marco hammering copper using "old world" technique. It looks easy. It isn't. Most start hammering when they are children. It is a definite art in and of itself, precise in depth and pattern. It is each craftsman's "signature".
Before the copper goes into the fire to set the patina colors, it is fitted to the wooden substrate.
This is the natural recycled copper that has not been fired. The colors in Mexican copper, which make it so beautiful, are created by the impurities (1% zinc) in the recycled copper. The impurities do not affect the natural antiseptic qualities of copper.
The man in the center back is the true expert in affixing the patina through control of the fire and timing.
His name is Angel. He has been working with copper since he was 16 years old. He is about 35 now. He is not sure.
Water splashed on the copper lamina gives a better idea of the final coloration when the wax is applied. The wax sets and brings out the colors.
The tinted wax has been applied and wiped off in one area to give more of an idea of whether the patina was acceptable. It is a "go".
And here is your table top in the "raw". Now it has to be thick glued to the substrate, waxed and polished.