The Tin Maker, Oaxaca, Mexico

Hammering designs out of tin that become frames for photographs, mirrors and paintings, treasure boxes and decorative embellishment like Frida’s winged heart, is a traditional art form in Oaxaca, Mexico.  You can find hand-hammered tin in all the markets, made with varying levels of quality.  Known as hojalata, hand-hammered tin is beautiful and lightweight.


Tools of the tin maker trade fascinate me. From a sheet of thin metal, an expert tin maker can hammer many complex designs.  One of my favorite shops is Tirso Cuevas, located at the corner of Reforma and Abasolo.  It is on the same side of the street as La Olla Restaurant and Las Bugambilias B&B, but the entrance is on Abasolo.  You actually have to stand at the barred window to ask to enter and they will come to the locked door and open it for you.

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Why?  Because they are in the corner of an old adobe casa that is in dire need of restoration.  Everything inside is a potential hazard for accident.  Walls are crumbling and some are held in place by hefty pieces of wood.  The tin makers  work on a packed dirt floor with tools helter-skelter. When I enter, I step carefully and always keep my eyes on the floor.

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I have come here many times for small gifts.  This time, I made a custom order for a large mirror for our bathroom.  It was ready, as promised in two days!  Un milagro aqui!  If you have to wait, there’s even a place to rest if you are so inclined.


Don’t let the disrepair of the location deter you.  The beauty of this shop is that they also sell works of art by well-known Oaxaca artists that they can also frame for you.  The art is primarily lithographs, seriagraphs, and woodcuts.  They are available here for much less than at other galleries in the Centro Historico.



Artesanias de Hojalata & Enmarcado de Obras de Arte, Tirso Cuevas, Abasolo 201, at the corner of Reforma, Oaxaca, 68000, Cellular 951-114-8403, email




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