Mexico is popular for several reasons, and one of them is its silver, particularly the works made with it. These works come mostly from a town that hasn’t changed that much in the past half millennium when compared with most other places. This wonderful town is Taxco.
Taxco has been churning out silver art like mad year after year, more and more, to supply what the market has been demanding: more of its wonderful creations. These creations range from a small pendant, almost weightless, up to a big, hefty silver statue. These statues will be the focus of my writing today.
They haven’t been very common lately, because of how much metal they require. Silver becoming more and more expensive over the years, economy being a bit more tough on buyers, these large pieces became less and less afforded by many.
Originally, they were made of solid silver, as well as some complimentary metal, particularly copper to give a color accent or contrast, for example. Silver can also be oxidized using acid, which turns it quite dark, which later is polished and buffed in parts to turn it back to its shiny silver color. This alone gives enough effect to pieces that they don’t require another metal at all. It’s up to the artist.
The technique used would be similar to that used when casting bronze pieces: have the forms and pour the hot silver into them to assume the shape. Like I said above, though, this requires a lot of metal for a silver statue. In order to make these works require less metal, but still have the important presence that they were known for, another technique started to become popular: electroforming.
You may be familiar with electroplating. This is a technique to cover a piece with another metal using electricity. This cover, the plating, is very thin, just enough to resist normal wear, and is plenty to make the piece look as if it were made of the covering metal, not the one the piece is made of. This is what makes silver plated pieces less expensive than the solid silver ones in jewelry.
Electroforming is similar, only the plating is about six times thicker, making it more resistant and valuable. This allows one to have a wonderful statue, at a fraction of what it’d cost if it were all solid silver and, to be honest, the inside of the statue is not visible so many don’t like having to pay for all that extra precious metal which doesn’t add to the art or looks of the piece. It is a good trade off which most buyers are happy with and so are the manufacturers.
So, now you know. If you want a silver statue that isn’t as expensive as a solid silver one would be, get electroformed ones.