Tag Archives: tin

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 tirsocuevas-hojalatas@hotmail.com




Shop Mexico: The Artisan Sisters Week 10–Tin hearts Frida-style and a word about nichos

Oaxaca is filled with craftsmen tucked away in small corners of the city hammering tinware into picture frames, throbbing Frida-style hearts, and ornate boxes.  With hammer in hand, a large nail and metal clippers, they create exquisite designs in locally made metal.   The results can be as simple as a small nicho — a little shrine, altar or blessing box.  These are usually outfitted with a small glass door, empty inside, waiting to be filled with your own heart’s desire or whatever inspires you.  When you are finished, hang it on a wall or put it on a table top.

Today, the Artisan Sisters offer you a choice of beautiful tin hearts for sale, painted and ready to hang.  Finest quality tinware and painting. An inspiration to visit or return to Oaxaca!

Buy the entire collection of 4 REMAINING pieces below for $35 USD, includes shipping to anywhere in the USA.  To purchase, send me an email first!

Left:  SOLD. Tin heart with mirror, stunning crown, of red with blue accents, little turquoise dots rim the mirror.  See the reflection of the potted plant in the mirror? Measures 9-1/2″ high x 5″ wide.  An unusual piece, beautifully crafted!  Item #1.08192012.  $25 USD. Includes shipping to anywhere in USA.



Email me first to order.

Left:  Flying heart — Heart on Wings.  Hand-hammered tin and painted. This is the quintessential Frida-style heart that lifts the spirit.  Measures approx. Wingspan is 10″wide x 4″ high. Item #2.08192012. $15 USD. Includes shipping to anywhere in USA.








Above left:  Hearts surrounded by hearts!  Measures 7″ high x 5-1/4″ wide. Item #3.08192012.  $10.00 USD includes shipping to anywhere in USA.

Above right: Feathered crown heart.  Measures 5″ high x 3-1/4″ wide.  Item #4.08192012.  $8.00 USD includes shipping to anywhere in USA.

Left: Not a Heart. Circle with center mirror.  Measures 3-1/4″ diameter.  $10 USD includes shipping to anywhere in USA.


Email me first to place your order.

To order your own tin nicho to decorate yourself, contact Chiripa: Artisan Crafts of the Americas. They will give instructions with purchase! And, be sure to visit Nicodemus at the corner of Mina and J.P. Garcia or another artesania at the corner of Reforma and Abasolo for a great selection of tinware when you are in Oaxaca.