A Copper Tradition: Santa Clara del Cobre

Santa Clara is a Pueblo Mágico (magical town) in the state of Michoacán known for its copper handcrafts.  People from all over the world visit this town to see the amazing work from its artisans, who have carried the tradition and skillset for many generations.

Its tradition dates back to the pre-Hispanic era.  The Purepécha people were the pioneers of this craft, and to this day their influence lives on in the region.

Although beautiful, cozy and surrounded by forest, Santa Clara del Cobre is, however, an artisan village by excellence and the heart of the Michoacán culture of handcrafting.

Working this metal by hand is a very complex task.  It can take days to complete a single piece.  Copper artisans are what truly make Santa Clara del Cobre a magical place!

Copper handcrafts from Mexico

Handcrafts from Santa Clara del Cobre

How did the copper tradition begin at Santa Clara del Cobre? 

The Purepécha people have been working with copper prior to the arrival of the Spanish colonization in México.  They have inhabited the region starting from the 12th centry.  Alongside the Zapotecs in Oaxaca, the Purepéchas were able to extensively use copper.

Their advancements in metallurgy enabled them to make jewelry, decorations, and tools.  Excavations on burial grounds have unearthed masks and axes from these early inhabitants.

Early mines in this region enabled the extraction of the metal, and also attracted Spaniards.

At the time of the conquest, the natives were lured back to practice their craft.  Vasco de Quiroga (the first bishop of Michoacán) gave them an incentive by giving them the right to produce "cazos" (cooking utensil resembling a large saucepan).

Hammering raw copper

The town was initially founded as Sant Clara de Acuero.  In the 1500's, a large forge was built there to smelt copper.  This copper originated from sources far from Santa Clara.  In 1553 the town was officially founded with the name Santa Clara de los Cobres.  The town became an important smelting town for Spain.  The town changed names again throughout its history (Santa Clara de Portugal, for instance), but in 1981 the town changed its name back to Santa Clara del Cobre.

Santa Clara Del Cobre's artisans today

Today, Santa Clara del Cobre is an amazing place to visit to find copper pieces of all kinds!  Exquisite handmade copper vases, jewelry, decorations, kitchenware, and even the kitchen sink (literally!).  You can find a variety of copper work in this region.  Similar to the 1500's, the copper is now brought in from places outside of Santa Clara del Cobre.

Working copper manually is a very complex process.  The reddish metal is hammered, melted, bent, rolled, and chiselled to shape it.  The artisans truly bring copper to life!

Artisans working copper in MexicoArtisans working in a local shop in Santa Clara del Cobre

Artistic copper pieces

Artisans and artists, like brothers Napoleón and José Perez Pamatz have worked copper for multiple generations.  This family has won awards in national competitions, and their pieces are well known.  Each piece is entirely made by hand, taking days (sometimes weeks) to give them their flawless look.

These pieces go through several processes to shape, tune, polish and coat this precious metal before it reaches its peak appearance.  Shaping the copper by hand is a very difficult skill, and it is often passed down from the previous generation.

Copper vase from MexicoCopper artwork from Santa Clara del Cobre (Copper Collection)

Copper artisan in Mexico José Perez Pamatz working on a vase at the family shop

Handmade jewelry

Artisans, like José  Bulmaro Suárez  Pérez, make unique copper jewelry with their hands and personal tools.  Jose Bulmaro, specifically, has decades of experience, specializing in earrings, rings, and bracelets.  You can find his pieces or pieces like his throughout downtown Santa Clara del Cobre.

Copper artisan working on a copper bracelet

Copper bracelets from MexicoBracelets from our Copper Collections


Pieces such as pans, wine glasses, martini glasses, shot glasses, buckets, sinks, pots, and such, are generally made with a combination of machinery and hand tools.  There is a very wide range of such items, essentially allowing you to dress your entire kitchen or bathroom with copper.

Families, such as that of Mr. Humberto Gomez, devote themselves entirely to this craft.  They work together at the shop, and pass down the skills from one generation to the next.

Kitchen by Santa Clara del Cobre from our Copper Collection

Visiting Santa Clara Del Cobre

Santa Clara del Cobre is about 1 hour away (70Km / 43 miles) from Morelia, the capital of the state of Michoacán.  It can make for an amazing day-trip, or a short stay to enjoy this small town.  

If you're visiting, you must stop and buy some of their world famous copper pieces that are handcrafted by local artisans.  In addition, you can stroll around its main square and admire some of the temples, such as the old Huatápera, Temple of the Purísima Concepción and Virgen del Sagrario.

Santa Clara del Cobre main square
The main square at Santa Clara del Cobre

There are a number of amazing small towns in the vicinity.  For more details on how to make an amazing trip through the state of Michoacán, you can visit the article Our Trip Through the Amazing State of Michoacán.  

Santa Clara del Cobre Michoacan 
Temple of the Purísima Concepción and Virgen del Sagrario

Where to find copper pieces from Santa Clara del Cobre

You can shop our online boutique for our collection of items from Santa Clara del Cobre!  You can find items from all three categories, delivered to your doorstep!  

Each purchase directly benefits the Santa Clara del Cobre artisans.

Santa Clara del Cobre copper collection

To learn more about all the families of artisans we work with, read our Meet our Artisans article.

For more information or details, contact us at monarca.imports.llc@gmail.com.  You can sign-up to our newsletter at the bottom of this page for the latest news on our Santa Clara del Cobre pieces.

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