Silver Jewelry Using Cactus Molds
The Mexican desert, sacred and full of mysteries, has become the source of inspiration for Montserrat Davalos of Cotantik. The desert cacti reveal whimsical surfaces, intricate patterns and fascinating structures that have resulted in silver jewelry made by this cooperative.
Their passion for detail and unique style allows them to create jewelry with simplicity, balance, as original as the woman who wears them. Desert structure is divided into three design motifs, each with its own particular aesthetic: Nopal’s skin: classic and feminine; Nopal’s heart: minimalist and sophisticated; Lamp’s body: Refine and avant-garde. The lamp’s body refers to the cactus when completely dried out. All that is left is a skeleton of the plant, which is really hard making carving very difficult.
Each of the methods Contantik uses involves making a mold from the part of cactus they wish to use and then injecting wax to make the final mold used to pour the silver or gold into. So, every design you see is a replica of some part of the cactus — a very unusual and beautiful subject to use in jewelry making. Expert hands create with love and the respect they feel for their work and nature.
Cotantik began in the year 2000 in Tzajala, Chiapas. The study of ambar (amber) was the inspiration then. Since, the coop continues their use of ambar along with silver, semi-precious stones that are developed into a theme ingrained with their roots, culture, traditions and love of Mexico.
Ambar is not a stone but a fossilized resin from coniferous trees such as pine. It is often found with plants or insects inside. It may be the oldest substance used by humans to make jewelry having found jewelry dating from the 8000 A.E.C.
The coop is also instrumental in purchasing the amber the indigenous people extract from the mines in the highlands of the north and center of Chiapas. They also teach others how to make jewelry using the ambar. This offers more solid economic resources in their lives.