& Martha Sara Téllez Gopar
Maestro (teacher) Arturo Salgado Vásquez is originally from San Pedro Totomachapam in the Zimatlan district of Álvarez, Oaxaca. At age ten, he moved to Oaxaca de Juárez, where he studied the art of making filigree jewelry while selling newspapers to meet his family’s expenses.
He began to learn his craft from his brother who died shortly after Arturo arrived, leaving his learning unfinished. Without the tutoring of his brother, he went on creating from what he had seen and already learned— he began searching, inventing and improving his technique.
At the age of 18, he married Martha Téllez Gopar, who he began teaching his trade. In time, she found her own elaborate technique. Martha and Arturo have three daughters who have also been taught by the maestro. Each family member creates their own designs, adding their own special touches. Their grandchild, Frida, has participated and won contests since the age of nine. The other grandchildren will, in time, also learn the filigree jewelry trade that the family has passed down through the generations.
Filigree jewelry/.925 silver — this is an old technique in which everything is made by hand using only tweezers, scissors, hammer, gasoline and special carbónPreviously, the family worked in gold, but the expense caused them to keep to working only in the .925 silver. Gold pieces are made by special order. This style of jewelry is made only in the Oaxaca de Juárez’ central valley. The technique is totally different to filigree made elsewhere in Oaxaca.
Filigree is a delicate kind of jewelry metal work. It often suggests lace and consists of curling, twisting and plaiting fine pliable threads of metal using tweezers. The process of aging to achieve the antique effect is done through oxidation giving each piece a special, aged appearance.
Another traditional and old technique, working with wax, has been lost or almost forgotten. This technique was/is used to create the Montealban pieces of Arturo’s collection. This is performed with instruments mostly invented by maestro Arturo. He does not use modern machinery or tools in the creation of his jewelry.
The Salgado family creates from their imagination — new ideas and subject matter are emerging every day. Arturo believes wholeheartedly in the importance of passing on his art to new generations so that it is not lost. He takes great satisfaction in creating with his heart and soul.
The family has won many prizes over the years, both internationally as well as in Mexico.