Twenty five years ago (how could it be that long?!), when Jane and I first strolled the streets of San Miguel de Allende, there was a persistent, repetitive clinking sound that could be found on almost every street— a tap tap tapping sound. Later we discovered these were tin smiths making a host of decorative goods: angels, candelabras, Monrovia stars, picture frames, retabalas primarily for the Mexican market. San Miguel de Allende has been a Mecca for tin products for over 400 years, but that craft tradition is disappearing.
The first tin workshop we ever visited was called El Milagro (The Miracle), owned and operated by a most beautiful woman, Guadalupe Alvarez. We poked about her workshop and Jane said, “I love traditional tin, but that is not what I want to do”. Guadalupe said, “Well, what is it you want to do?” Jane drew a lamp and pushed the paper to Guadalupe. Guadalupe said ok. Two days later we got a call (not by cell phone, of course…this is when we were still using smoke signals and rotary dialed systems,) telling us to come back to the shop. When we returned to Guadalupe’s office there was the lamp—just like the drawing. How did they just do that? THAT’S when our lights went on, and THAT’S when Jane started handing sheathes of ideas to Guadalupe and THAT’S when Stray Dog was conceived.
This pretty video is about Ignacio, aka “Nacho”, our master tin smith. He apprenticed under Felipe, who worked in Guadalupe’s shop 25 years ago when we first walked in those doors. A lot has changed in that stretch of time. San Miguel is no longer a sleepy little town. Jane and I have kids in college. And Nacho is among a dwindling number of tin craftsmen continuing the trade. We are proud to have him and his studio in our shop.