Local artisanal shop turns out functional, beautiful copper pieces for your home.
By Fern Corraini
Looking for something different to put a little “wow” into your new kitchen? Always dreamt of soaking in a gorgeous copper tub, but didn’t know where to find one locally? Or maybe you just love the look and heat-conducting properties of real honest to goodness copper cookware. We have good news: there is a shop in El Centenario where you can see traditional, hand-hammered copper, and order custom pieces from the Zapotecan family who make them by hand.
Fourteen years ago, I walked into Alberto Yánez’s shop in Todos Santos and was wowed by the sparkling perfection of a hammered copper bathtub. It was a “slipper tub”, shaped like a high heel. This stunning piece of art had been handmade by Alberto’s family in Michoacán, Mexico.
Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Alberto again, now in his “retirement” shop, named simply “COPPER ART,” located on the highway in El Centenario. It’s a rustic and welcoming place…just perfect for nosing around, and a visit there will soon have you swooning over the expertly crafted, one-of-a-kind pieces. There are large copper kitchen sinks, smaller bathroom sinks, urns, vases, paella pans, saucepans, even a baby’s slipper bathtub. All of the copper in the shop has a natural patina; the shiny polished finish is also available. Can’t decide exactly what you want? Alberto has photos of various sink and tub styles to choose from to help spark ideas for custom orders.
Tom and Renee Weber ordered a custom copper sink from Alberto for their new kitchen, and could not be more pleased with the result. “I found Alberto to be extremely professional, an excellent and knowledgeable craftsman,” says Renee Weber. “We supplied him with the proper dimensions and design, and it was delivered without any issues. We highly recommend Alberto for the quality of his work and the ease of communication. Our beautiful new sink is the highlight of our kitchen. It’s beyond easy to clean and comes with the added benefit of being naturally antibacterial.”
Alberto grew up in the mountains of Michoacan in a village called Villes Cal. Like generations before him, he began contributing to the family business at around age six. For the poor indigenous groups in the mountains, attending school was a pipedream. However, Alberto had plans, and he left the mountains at age 14 to pursue them, learning Spanish and English as he adventured and expanded the family business from afar.
He says that not much has changed in the mountains where he grew up. Today, most of the people still do not speak Spanish, only Zapoteca or Purépecha, and attending school is still a challenge.
“Everything in this store has a story”, says Alberto, and I enjoyed hearing those stories as we wandered the store.
Once you wander into the Copper Art store, you’ll realize there’s more than just copper here; check out the artisanal treasures in the cupboards. There are several pieces of pottery in the style of Juan Quesada, the poor farmer from Chihuahua who, in the 1960’s, revived the ancient designs in black, brick and beige. You can also find handmade trinkets, old coins, old cameras, jade, amber, fossils and assorted other treasures.
If you are hunting for unique treasures for your La Paz area home, whether it’s a gorgeous copper kitchen sink, bathtub or something a little smaller, be sure to visit Copper Art in El Centenario. Alberto’s store is much like himself: humble and fascinating. He’s a low-tech guy, Internet and Facebook aren’t part of his daily life, so we don’t have a Facebook link to include here. If you’re curious and want to check it out, drop in at KM 15.6 on the highway in El Centenario to browse the store, or call Alberto at (612) 200-2542.
Find it on Google Maps here: https://goo.gl/maps/mhYYFKe6uXrChVDt6.
Fern Corraini is a veteran traveler and explorer who moved to La Paz from Canada fourteen years ago and is happy to call Mexico home. In addition to her international travels, Fern has been an English teacher in Canada and Guadalajara, a customs officer, a beekeeper, a sandblaster, a travel rep in the Dominican Republic and a motel owner. When she’s not busy keeping Baja Life Realty organized as our administrator, Fern loves to cycle, visit the beach and spend time with her two rescue cats. She loves La Paz and firmly believes that the taco is the perfect food.