The Silversmith
Javier Pérez Pérez

In a tiny, dark room inside the spacious Platería Gloria of Taxco, Guerrero, shown at the left, silversmith Javier Pérez Pérez sits hunched over a silver bracelet. Javier works furiously fast and talks so hurriedly that his words jumble together. At first he thinks I'm just a nosey tourist so he pays no attention. However, when I tell him what I'm writing, and ask what he'd like to tell my readers about being a Mexican silversmith, he lays his tools down and looks at me wide-eyed. His expression seems to say that he is profoundly pleased that someone is finally interested in what he has to say.

"It's hard, hard work," he says, "and people just don't know or don't care how much work goes into every little piece. I need four or five days to make a set consisting of necklace, earrings, and bracelet. First I must fashion a thin plate of silver, have the plan all outlined on paper, and then create the thing, cut the silver. I have to use an acid to make the silver white, and that burns my lungs. But what really gets damaged is the eyes, having to work so close all the time, always paying attention to tiny details. Sometimes I work all day and then all night, then other times not so much. If someone makes an order for the next day, yes, I may have to work all day and all night. At the moment I've been working for seven days without a day off. No, people just don't know or don't care how much work goes into these things."