& Martha Sara Tellez Gopar
Something that characterizes Oaxaca is the preparation of their jewelry - a globally recognized process and one of the great maestros (masters) is Arturo Salgado Vasquez who comes from Zimatlan de Alvarez, Oaxaca. Emigrating from this very small pueblo to Oaxaca city at the age of 11, he began to learn the craft of jewelry from his older brother. Igniting a spark, a new teacher had been born.
Jewelry has been a family business since he married Martha Sara Tellez Gopar. Martha also learned the craft and as their three daughters grew, they, too, followed in their father's footsteps. Currently, Don Arturo is teaching his seven-year-old granddaughter the basics of the trade.
For over 40 years, Arturo has accomplished many milestones. In 2006, his wife, Doña Martha, won third place in the national silver competition for the coveted Hugo Salinas Prize; in 2008 the master himself won fourth place in the state of Juarez and in 2009 his daughter, Ruby, won third place in the same competition.
Arturo workshop is called "ancient wonders of Oaxaca" and it fills him with great pride that his entire family continues this tradition of handmade jewelry based on ancient techniques and models. Of course, over his career, Don Arthuro has made renovations to some of the processes based on his creative imagination but with the desire to never forget the "old ways."
Everything is done by hand using tools such as hammer, pliers, scissors, and carbon - no machines are used in the course of creating any of their jewelry. The workshop focuses on producing filigree jewelry (work of a delicate kind made with twisted threads usually of gold and silver using curving motifs) that originated in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca and now is produced in the Central Valleys of Oaxaca. It is called cartoneado - a technique that gives shape to the piece using a flat gold/silver wire. The pieces are assembled or fit over a form of asbestos and then are welded. The wire is worked with small pliers, twisted and turned into the desired shapes. This process is used in making delicate earrings and ornaments.
Another process Don Arturo uses is oxidizing sterling silver that makes the silver appear old. In years past, this process was also used on gold but the price of the precious metal is too high and now, most of the "aged" jewelry is done from silver.