La Paz, Bolivia, is the gorgeous setting for Taller Laureke, an artist cooperative whose focus is on producing top-quality jewelry and accessories in a range of materials. Sterling silver is acquired regionally, from small refineries in the Bolivian city of Potosi. Traditional styles include finely wrought, dangling earrings, beautifully detailed “tupus” or brooches, and necklaces, all crafted using a style called “Mestizo Baroque.” Additionally, some of Workshop Laureke’s artisans implement recycled materials like horn, wood, and bone; these are typically combined with metals such as silver or tin, as well as leather.
Mestizo Baroque-styled jewelry has its origins in Bolivia’s colonial era, and combines Spanish techniques and designs with native symbols and beliefs of Indigenous Bolivians, in particular, the Aymara and Quechua ethnic groups. Artisans use various techniques in their creative process, but no matter what the end product, each and every item is crafted manually, and each artisan injects his or her unique creative inspiration into all of their designs. The range of accessories produced by Workshop Laureke is staggering. On one hand are intricate silver items, featuring charming additions of dogs, hummingbirds, flowers, and other embellishments. Other artisans showcase very different items, like necklaces of finely carved, linked cow horn hoops. Horn is sourced from regional slaughterhouses, making use of material that would otherwise be discarded. Members of the Laureke Workshop have participated in numerous exhibitions in Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Colombia.
“Andean culture is dynamic, especially in the last decades, which motivates new innovations. These innovations, together with the management of the traditional techniques of chiseling and embossing, allow us to produce handmade jewels that support our economy. “ – Marco Antonio Leonardini Sierra