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Jose German Punzo Nuñez | The Punzo Family

Coppersmiths of Michoacan

The large Nuñez family lives in a small town about an hour and a half from Morelia, the capital of Michoacan, Mexico. Copper and silver work is the main source of livelihood for many of the community’s artisans, and the Nuñez family are masters of this traditional and remarkably distinct type of work.

Inspired by the history, traditions, and natural beauty of the region, the Nuñez family has been renowned for their artistic interpretation of this classic artform for multiple generations. Says Jose German Punzo Nuñez, “Art allows me to express my ideas, feelings, and character into a piece of metal. Each day I learn more about my work, but my main motivation is to pass on to my children this beautiful art I inherited…It is a process of love.”

Much of the group’s artwork comprises vessels as sturdy as they are artful, in gleaming earthy copper or refined, elegant silver. While some feature embellished handles or animal motifs, many are smooth in appearance or feature abstracted designs.

The process begins, of course, with metal, which is first fired in a pit that has been prepared with pine, charcoal, and stones, then hammered to form a number of vessels or figures. Each piece is hammered from a single sheet or ingot of metal, there is no soldering of separate parts. The final surface design is always achieved as an integral part of the hammering process. Production of each piece requires the family to work together at every stage of hammering, firing, and cooling. For particularly complex designs, the final and most detailed hammering is often done by a single artist. With their uniquely collaborative creative methods and their elegant, contemporary design sensibility, the members of the Nuñez family are modern masters of Mexican metal work.