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Cobre Artisans

Fabrication of copper (cobre in Spanish) by the Purepecha people of central Mexico predates Arts & Crafts metalwork by centuries.

But serious interest in hammered copper made by indigenous people of Mexico dates to the recent revival. In 1994, Susan Hebert started Cobre Hand-Hammered Copper. “I’d been traveling since the early 1970s, mostly to states with strong Indian populations—Michoacan, Oxaca, and Chiapas—in appreciation of folk art. When I saw the Purepecha copperwork, I was sure people in the U.S. would love it,” she explains. (Cobre has fairly traded goods since 1994.)

An Aztec bowl

An Aztec bowl

The craftsmen don’t consciously serve the Arts & Crafts market. Some of the indigenous forms happen to dovetail with A&C motifs, whether by coincidence or prior crossing of ideas. “Over the years, some pieces were made specifically for me,” Hebert says, “based on an original or a piece of vintage pottery.” Each is signed.

The area’s copper mines have been closed for a long time. Today the smiths melt salvaged copper to rework it. Copper is heated over a fire, then hammered. The method produces a matte finish that’s deep reddish brown and it does not need polishing.

COBRE HAND-HAMMERED COPPER, Portland, Oregon: (503) 248-1111,

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