The Rojas Calvo Family (Oaxaca City)

This family has improved or pioneered many of the major jewelry styles found in the city of Oaxaca: gold filigree, colonial style, and reproduction of ancient designs. Tere Calvo Quevedo’s mother and Alberto Rojas Calvo’s grandmother, Rosa (known as Rosita during her lifetime), opened the very first jewelry shop in town in 1946. Currently Tere and her son Alberto have multiple stores in town, one of which houses their workshop. It was to Maestro José Ortiz, who used to manufacture jewelry for Rosita, that the famous pieces discovered by archaeologist Alfonso Caso in Monte Albán’s Tomb 7 were brought for cleaning and restoration.

Because of the trust placed in both Rosita and Maestro Ortiz, and the quality of their work, they were later granted sole rights to make reproductions, establishing a workshop devoted to this purpose in 1937. Today all three types of jewelry are produced in the family’s workshop near the church of Santo Domingo. Visitors are welcome to see all phases of production that exemplifying the family’s dedication to preserving the basics of the old principles.

 

Tere Calvo Quevedo

Tere is a lively, elegant and yet down to earth woman who never made jewelry but rather supervised its production.  However, her personal participation in every aspect of the process enables her to appreciate what is involved. At the time when she began to devote herself to the jewelry business, there were two types of jewelry: gold filigree and colonial style, the latter introduced by the Spaniards. Tiny raw diamonds are set on top of silver that is mounted on a backing of gold.  At times pearls hang from these pieces as well.  The filigree style can be produced in both silver and gold.  However, Tere, like her mother Rosita before her, strongly favors gold pieces.

Alberto Rojas Calvo (son of Tere)

Alberto is deeply dedicated to his work, preserving its tradition and facilitating its improvement.  He studied processes of jewelry production in Dallas, Texas to enhance his family’s mission.  His goal was to preserve technical principles, while increasing productivity. Filigree work, based on natural materials such as leaves and flowers, is created by hand using old designs.

Pieces of wire are twisted with pliers, then put in charcoal and pressed inside. Colonial designs are similarly drawn from natural sources such as leaves and flowers, many also deriving from colonial iron work seen on windows and doors in houses and churches. Monte Albán reproductions are created with the “lost wax process.”  A metal mold is vulcanized in a special type of rubber.

Pieces are placed on top and on bottom, and wax is injected into the cavity.  A small wax tree is formed, around which metal cylinders are placed.  The wax inside is surrounded by cement made of a mixture of powder and water.  Once dried and solidified, the metal cylinder is placed in the oven, where the wax melts, thus the “lost wax.”  This leaves the cavity empty.  Gold, subjected to centrifugal force, occupies the cavity.

 

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