"Hi! How are you? We're Olimpia and Pepe Barba. My family has worked with copper for generations now and I've been around it all my life. And so I learned to create...
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Olimpia and Pepe
"Hi! How are you? We're Olimpia and Pepe Barba. My family has worked with copper for generations now and I've been around it all my life. And so I learned to create utilitarian and decorative objects from this noble metal. When Pepe and I married, he was a practicing veterinarian. To help with expenses, I set up a small workshop in our home and sold my handicrafts in a shop on the plaza. As time went by, the family and the workshop have grown so we both design and create copper work to sell.
"The process begins when the ore is mined. The pieces are shaped like potato chips and are melted into ingots that weigh some 250 kilograms. We divide the ingot according to what we are going to make from it. Then the art of hammering begins. The piece is transformed into a flat sheet, beaten with hammers that weigh up to 16 pounds. Once we have a flat sheet, we hammer it in circles, little by little, to give rise to the desired shape – a casserole, a vase, a bell or any of the infinity of things that can be made. These pieces require thousands of blows to be crafted.
"To finish a piece, we sometimes apply a layer of gold or silver to make it more beautiful. We then take a small hammer and chisel to create the designs that you can see on the surface of our pieces. Finally, each piece is polished several times until it gleams and the beautiful color of the copper stands out. Other times we decorate a piece by hand using the lacquer designs from Pátzcuaro; on others we add a special touch with gold leaf and special paints. These are protected by a coat of varnish.
"The love and constancy we put into our work as a couple has yielded incredible fruits as we show the world a bit of our beloved state of Michoacán."