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Taxco is a three hour drive south of the Benito Juarez Airport in Mexico City.  The freeway that connects the two cities takes us up over a mountain range, through a forest, and then descends into a vast array of fields.  Corn is immediately recognizable, (I am from Indiana!) but there are also fields of sugarcane, rice and roses.  I have never seen so many roses in one place!!  Thousands of bundled bouquets are always stacked up on long wooden tables all along the freeway.  The extravagance of that floral beauty is a stark contrast to the poverty we pass through to get to our destination.

And there are little flower shops everywhere you look in Taxco, too!   The stalls in the market are stocked daily with exotic arrangements.  The abundance of flowers decorating their parades and religious ceremonies would put the famed Rose Parade to shame.  Truly, Mexican culture is drenched in bright colors and beautiful flowers.

“One marked feature of the people, both high and low, is a love for flowers.”     Robert Fortune

In a country that abounds in flowers and silversmiths, I mistakenly assumed that Still Life (dried flower) Jewelry originated in Taxco

Corazón’s Primavera line is offered in an array of styles, sizes and shapes, but the color palette is influenced by nature itself, depending on the time of year we place the order. Truly, no two pieces of these miniature works of art are ever the same.

Imagine the creativity, the skill and technology that are required to preserve a fragile dandelion puff?!

Meet Margarito!

There are four workshops that manufacture the Naturaleza Muerta (Still Life) Jewelry in Taxco – each one has different processes, and they are extremely private about their craft.  We interviewed Margarito and he told us about his experience creating this lovely miniaturized floral jewelry.

He began by explaining that the original idea came from Italy about 25 years ago.  Margarito was in his late teens when he first saw that first concept and was quite intrigued by it.  He and his brother were already working as silversmiths, but they decided to teach themselves how to recreate the model and start their own business.  It took them a full year of trial and error to figure out the process, and they opened their own shop when he was 19.    

The original design started with a single flower centered in a silver frame, with a silver back, that was filled with resin.  The designs evolved as the the brothers learned better practices that allowed them to remove the silver backing, hand paint the dried flowers (for more intense color) and float and finish the resin for a perfect transparency.  They have progressed into preserving full size flowers – even dandelion puffs – which are vacuum sealed and set in glass spheres!!   (See photo to the left)

There are little greenhouses all over Taxco where microflowers are grown, harvested and carefully preserved. With an inordinate amount of patience, the artists spend each day, with tweezers in hand, arranging these stunning bouquets of miniature flowers.  The end result of their meticulous attention to detail?  A lovely piece of nature, enshrined in resin and framed in sterling silver — a bit of that calm simplicity that we can carry with us throughout our day.

Margarito has a small garden of bushes from which his flowers are cultivated, hand clipped and dehydrated.  He imports the flowers that he cannot grow in Taxco’s climate, like forget-me-nots and orchids, from other states within Mexico. 

Margarito and his wife employ three men, silversmiths like himself, who flatten and shave the silver wire into ribbons to form the frames and attach the bails.  In another room, four women are seated at long wooden tables, surrounded by baskets of dried flowers, arranging little masterpieces in each frame.  Margarito finishes each piece with a technique that he developed to set himself apart from his competition.   

Margarito loves what he does.  He loves the challenge of seeing new ideas and figuring out how to create them and then how to improve his processes.  He loves the idea that his passion supports his small family (he and his wife have a young son) plus seven other families who are dependent on their income. 

We love these sweet, natural pieces for so many reasons.  Most notably, these little flowers represent a simplicity we so desperately crave these days.  They stand in quiet defiance of the noise and aggression around us.

I've been thinking . . .

There was a great little throwaway scene in the 1987 movie, Roxanne, when the central character, played by Steve Martin, stopped on his morning walk to get a newspaper from the box.  He jauntily fished around in his pocket and deposited his quarter, pulled open the door and retrieved the daily newspaper.  He took one look at the headlines, shrieked, and in one fluid move stuck another quarter in the box, opened the door and threw the newspaper back in!

I haven’t seen a newspaper lately that I wasn’t tempted to throw back in the box!  The headlines are distressing, and I know I’m not alone when I say that maintaining my equilibrium in the face of these dark and ugly days is sometimes utterly exhausting. 

These are the thoughts that swirl around in my head as I venture out each morning on my walk.  And almost every morning my troubled questions are answered by the simple little wildflowers growing alongside my path.  Every little flower stands in defiance of the world around it by simply blooming. No drama and no fanfare.  Just nature, making its way.              

I find tremendous security in knowing that despite the ongoing turmoil, these little unfolding miracles just keep blooming – regardless of their surroundings and without a care who may or may not be watching.  Still your anxieties with this thought.  When I wear one of these “still life” pieces, I am meeting every situation with a bit of that quiet, calming defiance.