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J. Ignacio García Rosales
Volcanic Rock


To Contact: This artisan’s page is part of the Feria Maestros del Arte website, a non-profit organization providing a yearly venue for Mexican folk artisans to come together to sell their work. If you wish to purchase the artisan's work other than at the Feria, you MUST contact them directly.

Tlajomulco Jalisco
331 098-0267

A humble man, eager to smile and share his life with you, Ignacio García Rosales has worked carving volcanic basalt rock for most of his life. He is married but has no children of his own so he is passing down his knowledge to his three nephews.

A chunk of basalt is the most common rock on the face of the earth. Basalt is a common extrusive volcanic rock. It is usually gray to black and fine-grained due to rapid cooling of lava at the surface of a planet. Extrusive refers to the mode of igneous volcanic rock formation in which hot magma from inside the earth flows out (extrudes) onto the surface as lava or explodes violently into the atmosphere to fall back as pyroclastics or tuff. This is opposed to intrusive rock formation, in which magma does not reach the surface. Basalt is the most common rock type in the Earth's crust and covers about 70% of earth's surface, including most of the ocean floor.

Using rudimentary tools, Ignacio chips away at the volcanic rock allowing the rock itself to tell him what shape it will take. The hammer and chisel are second nature for this artist whose carved pieces are some of the finest of their type. Ignacio took me to his backyard, which is set up as his work place. He explains that he spends three days working and then three days traveling to his mine collecting more rock - he rests on Sunday.

He was working on a tejolote (pestal) or a molcajete (mortar) and took me through all the steps, which are shown in the photos above. Ignacio makes all his own tools (see last photo above) and switched from one to another quickly as he carved the profile of a head on the handle of the tejolote. First, he used a piece of chalk to draw where the design would be. Then he used a chisel and chipped away the eye holes. Dragging one of his tools, he formed the mouth and decorated lines that you see in the

In the final step of completing a piece, Ignacio uses a smooth stone to rub the pieces when finished to make them smooth — here is where the quality of his work surpasses others. His molcajetes are ready to use without worrying about rock chipping off while crushing peppers for your salsa.

The tradition of carving basalt in Mexican is believed to have begun with the Olmec peoples of the Gulf Coast in the second millennium B.C., if not earlier. Many of the Aztec sculptures still exist despite massive destruction by the Spaniards, who considered them to be heathen idols.

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