Wood with Inlay or Tattooing
431 746 1788 or 431 746 2682
Silvano Aguirre and Saturnino Muñoz reside and work in the state of Jalisco, México where their families have been working in wood for generations. During the 19th century, many homes in their pueblo practiced the traditional art of inlay. This tradition was all but gone, when Silvano's father, Francisco, revived and rescued the art from extinction. He taught his sons, Silvano and Francisco, how to "listen to the voice of the wood" and how to make the tools needed to transform the mahogany or sabino into authentic works of art.
Inlay is a meticulous craft, where the artist delicately hollows out the mahogany or sabino, and then later "tattoos" it with designs in copalillo and orangewood. The mahogany comes from the state of Chiapas or Guatemala. Sometimes, Silvano will cover the mahogany with other wood laminates for a different effect.
First, the design selected for the piece is drawn on to the wood and then thick paper templates are made. The templates are used to cut out the designs from thin, contrasting sheets of wood such as walnut, barcino, madroño, eucalyptus, sabino, orangewood, lima or white willow. To make the delicate cuts, Sabino uses a singer sewing machine fitted with a saw blade instead of a needle.
Next, the mahogany or sabino surface where the design will sit is hollowed out to accommodate fitting in the inlay. A chisel is used to cut about 1 cm deep. Then the inlay pieces are burned with hot sand to shade the edges.
Once everything has been cut and chiseled, the inlays are ready to be placed into the hollowed out designs on the wood's surface. Glue is applied and using tweezers, the inlays are careful put into place. Pressure is applied to ensure all inlays are seated properly and tightly. Edges are planned, and the surface is sanded and readied for varnish to be applied.
Silvano and Francisco Aguirre appear in the book "Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art" published by Fomento Cultural Banamex who was also instrumental in assisting the Aguirres in learning the best varnishing technique by sending them through various courses on the process.
Silvano creates all varieties of incredibly handcrafted inlayed wood objects - boxes, trunks, chests and picture frames. All possess the beauty that comes through tradition and love of your art.
Winning many prizes and acknowledgements in competitions and state fairs, Silvano has also won awards from the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, the Casa de Artesanías de Jalisco and the Premio Fomento Cultural Banamex in 1996.