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Copper Vessels of Santa Clara
Gallery Atotonilco Open House
Sat, Sun, Feb. 25, 26, 12-5pm

Feb. 24, 2022

by Susan Page

The town of Santa Clara del Cobre near Patzcuaro in Michoacan is the source of some of the world's most extraordinary works in copper. For over 500 years, nearby sources of copper stimulated the trade of copper work, and most of the items made were utilitarian. In 1966, an American artist, James Metcalf and his wife, Mexican artist Ana Pellicer, began working with the copper smiths, teaching them new techniques and decorative designs and heralding a new era in the town. Through their efforts, the town received the commission to create the large glorious flame holder for the Olympic torch for the 1968 Olympic games held in Mexico City. The impact of these two artists on the coppersmiths of Santa Clara del Cobre has been compared to the impact of William Spratling on the silversmiths in the town of Taxco in the 1930s.

The copper mines near Santa Clara have since given out, and the artists now use scrap copper for their works. They smelt the copper into large flat disks. Then, using a combination of heat and laborious hammering, they flatten the disks into thin copper and shape them into stunning works of art. Specially shaped anvils and hammers help the artists create a wide variety of imaginative designs. At some points, they may fill a vessel with wax that hardens to create a surface against which they may work the copper from the outside.

Coppersmith Roberto Castro


Galeria Atotonilco Open House
Saturday, Sunday, February 25, 26, 12-5pm 415-185-2225


Galeria Atotonilco, now in its 18th year, is located five miles north of town on a beautiful country property. With 5,000 square feet of exhibition space, it is widely considered the finest collection of authentic folk art in all of Mexico. Many visitors regard it as the highlight of their visit to San Miguel. Enter "Galeria Atotonilco" into your GPS, and it will bring you right to the gallery.


Susan Page Is the Former Director of Women's Programs at UC Berkeley, where she helped to found the Contraception Clinic at the Student Health Service, and to create one of the first university-based Human Sexuality programs in the U.S. She helped establish the first safe house for battered women in Contra Costa County. A best-selling author, Susan has appeared widely on national television and radio, including the Oprah Winfrey Show. She founded and is Director of the San Miguel Writers' Conference and Literary Festival and of Gáleria Atotonilco.


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