Day Trip to Santa Clara del Cobre (copper town)
Trip Start Jul 04, 2010
163Trip End May 10, 2011
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Santa Clara del Cobre is a former copper mining town 17km from Pátzcuaro and is known for its hand-hammered copper ware. We took one small Nissan bus to the bus station and another to Santa Clara. The road there is through green farm and forest land. Michelle sat up front in the co-driver seat for the best view!
We began looking in the shops along the town square. Most items were trinket quality. But we did find one shop that had nice fountains and vases that we would not mind having in our own home (if we had one, of course). And another that had large copper dinning room sets. Quite massive and something unique for just the right setting.
A young guy caught us on the street and insisted we look a shop around the corner. We said sure, we would work our way over. When we reached his shop, we found workers in the back forming the copper. They explained the forming process, mostly in Spanish, with a few English words salted in here and there. Then they demonstrated. And then they let us have a hand at it. That was worth a laugh.
He explained that they recycle old copper such as electrical wire putting it in a wood fire in front of a bellows until it is red hot. Then they pull it out and begin pounding it by hand with a hammer until they get a basic flat shape. Then it goes back in the fire again and then formed by hammer some more before being dipped in a salt bath that gives it a matte finish. Then a final finish is applied by hammering and hammering and hammering. It is a labor intensive process.
Two hours in Santa Clara del Cobre was plenty for us, considering anything we might buy would have to be carried on our bicycles. (Fat chance)
Back in Pátzcuaro, we saw more and more crafts being brought into town for the celebration and for the competition. We sneaked in the big tent where artisans arrived with, textiles, massively large vases, ceramics, paintings and other very nice items that would be judged and given prizes. It did not take long before they threw us out and told us to come back in two day when it would be open to the public.