José Sagrario Pérez Pamatz, Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacán

Jesús Pérez Ornelas, Pepe (José) Sagrario Pérez Pamatz, and Napoleón Pérez Pamatz all have devoted their lives to the artistry of working with copper. Jesús is featured in the book “Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art” which claims he is the indisputable master of engraving and graffito, famous for the beauty of his designs and the excellent quality of his finishing.

Like most other copper artists, the Pérez family works in his home, in a roofed, open area with adequate ventilation. Their forge sits on the ground in a shallow depression. He heats the metal by burning briquettes of pine; the flames are fed by traditional bellows.

Once the copper is red hot, it is removed with large tongs and the process of shaping the piece begins. With vigorous, yet never imprecise blows from a hammer, each man meticulously works on creating a work of art from the crude looking metal. Blow by blow, the piece takes shape.

Next, the piece is polished then engraving and embossing the delicate motifs that characterize their work begins. Each piece is almost completely covered with animals, various shapes, flowers or whatever design the client may desire. The last step is a bath of sulfuric acid rubbed with steel wool dipped in soap and water, with one last polishing afterward.

The work of the Pérez family is Mexican folk art at its finest. Each piece is handmade and can take weeks before it is finished. Often people remark as to the cost of hammered copper - this is one reason why. Yes, you might find less expensive copper work but it will never be of the high quality produced by the Pérez family.

Lazaro Cardenas #311

Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacán

434 343 0144