About copper

 About Copper


Copper Hammering

The use of copper in antiquity is of more significance than gold, as the first tools, implements, and weapons were made from copper. From 4,000 to 6,000 BC was the Chalcolithic period, which was when copper came into common use.

Several studies have shown that around the year 900 A.D., metal was already being worked on the American tableland. In the region corresponding to what today is Mexico, the Mayan area, Oaxaca and Michoacan have been signaled out as major metal working centers since before Spanish colonization, due to both the diversity and the age of objects that have been found there. However, Michoacan stands out for having elements with their own distinctive features, the oldest remains having been located around the Patzcuaro Lake.

The Purépecha Indians of Michoacán fabricated tools and weapons out of copper for over 500 years. Originally, the copper came from above ground copper mines in Michoacán. When Europeans arrived in the 15th century, Father Vasco de Quiroga introduced a few refinements, and Purepecha began to combine Spanish metal techniques with their own traditional methods. Michoacán is renowned in Mexico for the hammered copper of Santa Clara del Cobre, a town founded in 1530 after the construction of an enormous smelter for the nuns of the Order of Santa Clara, who obtained official recognition of the town in 1553. Around the end of the 17th century, a huge foundry fire burned down most of the town and the convent.

Reconstruction began in the early years of the 19th Century, and workers and company men flocked to the town, continuing the copper industry and establishing other businesses, rebuilding Santa Clara de Cobre and reclaiming its stature as the quality producer of hammered copper tubs, vats, ladles, trays, sinks, basins, kegs and all forms of containers. Today vases, ladles, skillets, pots, fruit plates, trays, jars, jewelry, and miniatures are fashioned with rustic tools, such as mallets, hammers, two-headed hammers, anvils, and chisels.


The Process

Our copper sinks are fabricated entirely by hand using the same ancient techniques of craftsmen, the martillado (hammered) technique. Copper is smelted over wood fires, sheets of metal are created, and then artisans patiently heat and hammer the copper sheet again and again until a bowl is formed. If a handle or base is required, such as for a base vessel sink, only then will a separate piece be used.

The Sink’s surface is then treated to accelerate the aging patina, if that is the desired finish. However, the finish can be left just as natural copper or also polished. The aging process is called "patinado", and it is done under heat, which gives the surface of the copper Sink its characteristic color and durability.

Depending on how often the copper piece is heated and cooled, the metal oxidizes and the patina ranges from a deep, rich red to a coppery brown. The master artisans work carefully to create a particular shade of red or brown to black that gives their work a distinctive finish. An artisan works on a finish over a series of days or weeks, giving it his own unique style. Techniques such as embossing, silver plating, hand painting, and engraving are often used and add to the artistry involved in each piece.