We all have said ” I am going to do BLANK somehow someway” , right ? Well I had heard of a town in old Mexico that everybody worked copper. Its not that unusual as in many towns in Mexico they specialize in one particular thing. It could be blown glass, stone carving, silversmithing or some other craft and everyone works towards doing that specialty. Having lived in Taxco for three years on and off I have driven throughout most of Mexico except the NW desert area I have seen a lot. I like taking back roads and often time s seeking out places a map has never seen. Most people in far out rural areas are the same worldwide, nice honest and hard working. There of course are some that aren’t.
I set out in early summer from Homosassa, Fl. my home to drive to Mexico and to look for a clues to find the town that works copper. I knew it had to exist just had no idea of where. Oh I didn’t mention that I had two of my sons with me Dylan and Ryan. 12yrs. and 10 yrs. old and I was in a heated divorce and had been for over a year. My 1/2 summer was only 15 days ???? and they Probably shouldn’t leave the county,state or country without written permission, I’ll skip this part.
24 hours after leaving Homosassa we were at the southern border at Brownsville having driven non stop. I make sure that the boys called their mom to say they were fine and were having fun, etc. etc. a few minutes later at 6:30 am we crossed into Mexico and their immigration service., I’ll skip this part too .We drove south in Mexico heading towards Monterrey, desert area bad roads and an occasional lean two selling weird stuff. One stop they had a Bald Eagle with a leash keeping him grounded, a couple of Rattle Snakes, and a scrawny deer. That evening we came to a remote area I called the four corners. Four stop signs and four “Restaurants” all with colored quart plastic bottles hanging around the perimeter for atmosphere. I ate a rice taco Dylan wouldn’t eat and Ryan had a “meat” taco. All around us were 10-15 Mexican kids staring at us. Off we went and I drove for hours until early morning when we pulled off the road to sleep a little. Sunup came a Ryan shot out of the van into the woods to meet Montezuma’s revenge. Poor kid had it bad. Next up was the town of Guanajuato were we saw some copper work and was told it was a three days of hard drive to get there but couldn’t point to it on a map ??? Outside of town I saw a Tourist info place with a small Museum and a nice lady who spoke some English. So I asked her where does all the beautiful copper work come from? She said Santa Clara Del Cobre and pointed to it. It was near the Pacific and below Lake Chapala I couldn’t believe our luck so we took off for Santa Clara and we did drive for almost two days but high up in the Sierra Madres there we found half hidden in clouds this beautiful town. it was alive with this great sound of hammers on copper and anvils ringing out. Santa Clara was not very big back then and just by accident the next day was the National Coppersmiths Competition at the Museum in the center of town. I had only been working copper for about 24 years and was amazed how skilled these folks were. They took scrap copper tube and wire, melted it in a hand pumped bellows forge using wood and some coal. They degassed using a green tree branch plunged into the molten metal and fluxed with ash from a baker’s wood fired oven. They poured the molten copper into shallow iron molds that looked like pancake molds and what came out looked just like a copper pancake. They had different size molds that produced different weight copper blanks (pancakes). If a bowl or a certain size was wanted thy knew how much it weighed when finished so this was natural but still so interesting. WE pumped the bellows in one studio for a while and watched these artisans create incredibly precise bowls with so much detail it made you just crazy wanting it all. We did buy 35-40 pcs. to bring home to study and they have been inspirational.WE spent 4 days here and so we had to move on although in retrospect we should have stayed and NOT driven to Mexico City. Trouble awaits us………..CONTINUED in Staying alive in Mexico