We want to share some footage from our 2018 trip to Tonala, Jalisco where we source our punched tin, brass and glass handcrafts. Our friends the Arzola family are the people who make all of this stunning Mexican metal art. They have more than 45 years of experience working with these materials and have become very well known and credible within the artisan community for their handiwork. They are incredibly talented, humble and hard-working people who have evolved their craft over time by coupling new materials and designs with the traditional methods. They pride themselves on producing very high quality and consistent tin art and to say we are proud to offer their collection would be an understatement.
When we first visited their workshop, we had no idea what we were going to find behind that door. From the street it looked like any other entrance, but when we stepped foot inside, we were instantly awestruck – we were surrounded by beautiful Mexican tin art. As you can see in this video their workshop is a filled from floor to ceiling (literally) with gorgeous pieces. Intricate detail, vibrant colors, creativity and symmetry can be found everywhere you look. It feels as it you are in a different era, rustic, raw beauty surrounds you – yet it is so advanced and modern at the same time. To this day it is somewhat difficult to wrap our minds around the fact that these incredible pieces are produced by hand with the simplest of tools and techniques.
Hojalata (tin artwork) is one of the most versatile and well-known branches of Mexican folk art. Since the 1500s this metal has been shaped, punched, stamped or painted to create a wide assortment of decorative and functional pieces. Tin itself is relatively inexpensive and is often called the ‘poor man’s silver’. Its pliability makes it easy to work with and its shiny appearance makes it aesthetically appealing. Some of the commonly made items include mirror frames, crosses, candelabras, ornaments, jewelry boxes, figures and bowls. Glass, mirror, stone and Talavera tiles are often combined with the tin resulting in a stunning assortment of handcrafts. The only limit to this craft is the artisan’s imagination. This age old and timeless craft is sure to be found in homes around the world for many more years to come.
We always make the disclaimer that due to the handmade nature of our products, absolute perfection will never exist – the Arzola family’s pieces may just be the exception to that statement.
Written by Jessica Gomez
Owner of Artemex Mexican Handcrafts & Freelance Writer
*All photos within this post were taken by Artemex during our travels to Mexico to visit our partner artisans.