The Radiance of Tin Art
Tinwork is one of Mexico's oldest crafts. Rooted in Spanish colonial times, tinplate workers manufactured it by dipping thin sheets of iron into molten tin. This coats the iron with a bright, durable surface that is resistant to rusting. Our tin figures are entirely handmade (cutout, punched, embossed and soldered) by craftsmen using great precision and artistic flair. Painted with bright, durable lacquer and enamel colors, tin figures are inexpensive, lightweight and long lasting. In modern Mexico, the two centers of tin smithing are Oaxaca and San Miguel de Allende, and we carry products from both cities.
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Read More About Animal Ornaments
In this section of our Mexican tin art collection we offer flat animal ornaments (except for birds), from several of Oaxaca’s acclaimed tinsmiths. They tool these figures by hand, four flat pieces of tin at at time. They are not stamped out with a machine. The artists paint the tin in durable and shiny lacquer, enamel and sometimes automobile paints to give then a gleaming, enduring finish.
Please take the time to browse our other tin products, including animal figures, birds, Day of Dead, Christmas ornaments and tin stars, nicho frames and fridge magnets. Use the drop-down menu above, under TIN ART.
The age of tinwork in Mexico goes back at least to the 1700s. Tin was originally manufactured by dipping thin sheets of iron into molten tin to coat them with a bright surface that was durable and highly resistant to rusting. (However, if the surface is scratched, revealing the iron underneath, it will begin to rust if exposed to rain or high humidity.) For an artisan, the appeal of working with tin is its lightness, strength and low cost. It is easily bent, cut and soldered to form intricate shapes.
In eras gone by, Mexicans decorated their homes with tin photo frames, candelabras, lanterns, tin and glass frames (nichos) holding pictures of saints. In humble churches, tin crowns were set on the heads of statues, lit tin lanterns were carried during processions, tin candlesticks adorn the altars.
Tinwork is often referred as the poor man’s silver. In Mexico, every religious and festive object handcrafted in silver has a counterpart in humbler forms made from tinplate. Yet the same degree of skill and passion the silversmiths put into their work could be found in the less opulent pieces made by tinsmiths. Their pieces, too had an alluring shine, that charming brilliance.
These days, tinsmiths in Oaxaca and San Miguel de Allende are carrying on the traditions, making Christmas decorations, tin soldiers, heart-shaped wall plaques and a variety of clever toys. Most of their work is for export to the southern United States, where tinwork is one of the most visible manifestations of Mexican Culture. Most popular with American collectors are the cheerful, flat ornaments, of which we have many here at Viva Oaxaca Folk Art. Take a look and enjoy.
Showing 29–34 of 34 results
Cat Angel Ornament
Size: 4 inches long
This Cat Angel Ornament is painted on both sides and features a black cat with white angel wings. It is a perfect gift or ornament to honor a lost pet.SKU: TN-3_030$4.75
Angel Cat Ornament
Size: 4 inches tall and wide
This Cat Angel Ornament is painted on both sides and features a shiny gold cat wearing a pink sweater. It has white angel wings and a pink halo. It is a perfect gift or ornament to honor a lost pet.SKU: TN-3_041$4.75
Panda Bear, tin figure
Size: 3.25 inches tall x 4.25 inches wide
The Panda Ornament features a black and white panda bear. The bear is holding a green branch. Painted on both sides.SKU: TN-3_005$4.75
Size: 4.5 inches wide
The butterfly ornament is painted on both sides. It has large wings of yellow, blue, red, green and purple.SKU: TN-3_034$4.75
Copper Coyote Ornament
Size: 4 inches tall and wide
This copper coyote ornament is made of pure copper. Handcrafted in Oaxaca, Mexico.SKU: TN-3_024$12.00
Size: 3.5 inches tall and wide
This Rabbit Ornament features a bright pink body. Made of punched tin and is painted with durable, shiny acrylic paints. Handcrafted in Oaxaca, Mexico. This is a great addition to your seasonal decor!SKU: TN-3_003$4.75