Cultural and Social Tourism Focus for Guanajuato Delegation to Oaxaca

Tourism and economic development officials from Guanajuato, Mexico, came to Oaxaca to meet and talk with artisans, artists, microfinanciers, arts educators, and entrepreneurs.  I helped them arrange their itinerary and hosted them during their stay.  The group plans to develop social/cultural tourism educational projects for their state with hopes to reduce the talent drain due to out-migration and keep people employed locally in sustainable work that can ensure cultural continuity.  What we do at Oaxaca Cultural Navigator is one model for possible program development.

Because Guanajuato is a silver mining area, I took the group to meet with silversmiths Brigitte Huet and Ivan Campant who work in the lost wax casting technique — a process used by the ancient Mixtecs and Mayans.  We spent the day in the studio learning about the intricacies and complexities of this jewelry making technique.


Brigitte and Ivan translate their bold designs into carved into wax.  They then make molds, melt the 925 sterling silver, pour the molten silver into the molds, and disperse the metal into the cast design using the ancient sling method.  Believe me, this is not easy.  You need to know chemistry and have a steady hand!


The results are stunning earrings, necklaces, pendants, rings and bracelets using designs adapted from Mexican codices and temple carvings.  We gained a greater appreciation for this type of work, since it is detailed, technical, and requires many steps and a lot of patience.


The multi-step process includes putting your design onto the wax, carving the wax, making a master, making a mold, injecting it with wax, using the wax design to fit into the plaster encased in the container, pouring the molten silver into the plaster, using the sling to disperse the silver, cooling the piece, removing it, cleaning it, oxidizing it, polishing it, and then using classical jewelry making techniques (like using the laminator) to make a finished piece of jewelry.


Brigitte and Ivan teach 3-day jewelry making workshops here in Oaxaca.  You can contact Norma Hawthorne to schedule your own personal workshop — two person minimum!



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