Oaxacan filigree, also known as cartoneado, is famous the world-over. For hundreds of years, artisans from this creatively fertile region of Mexico have been crafting breathtaking jewelry in ornate, regionally specific designs. Master jeweler Yesenia Yadira Salgado Téllez adds color and texture to her delicate silverwork with beads and cabochons made from natural materials including amethyst, turquoise, red coral, river pearls, and mother of pearl.
Once the domain of men, Yesenia’s silver jewelry workshop, Antiguas Maravillas, is mostly staffed by women representing three generations of her family. Utilizing ancient silver-working techniques specific to the Central Valleys of Oaxaca, the family designs traditional and original pieces that reflect Zapotec heritage. They use simple rustic tools for their work: pliers, scissors, tweezers, blowtorches, and hammers. One unusual tool in their arsenal is a turkey feather, used to place tiny squares of solder.
Yesenia, who is from a multigenerational family of jewelers, learned the art form from her parents. Now, each member of Yesenia’s workshop makes his or her own pieces from beginning to end. This includes melting silver, rolling sheets, extruding wires, handcrafting each design elements, and if desired, adding stones or other embellishments to complete the final design. Yesenia Yadira Salgado Téllez is a master of her craft, and moreover, an inspiration to future generations of women artists in Oaxaca.