Copper in the Arts

July 2013

Mocahete Reconfigures Copper into Adornment

By Michael Cervin

Brass And Copper Flower Earrings Verdigris brass and copper flower earrings.

Photograph courtesy of Dante Acevedo

As Dante Acevedo suggests, copper isn’t so much a color as an electronic vibration.

“It’s not a color on the color wheel, it’s a metallic luster,” he says. Inspired by the the unique colors of metals, the mother and son team of Dante and Sabrina Acevedo of Mocahete use copper, sterling silver, brass, bronze, and gemstones to handcraft their artisan jewelry from their home in South Central Georgia.

After dabbling for years intermittently making jewelry, they decided to commit full-time. In 2007, they  named their business Mocahete, derived from a Nahuatl word of Mexican origin.

“It’s a grinding dish made from basalt, where things get mashed up and reconfigured,” Dante says, much like the designs that are birthed from their makeshift home-studio. Dante does the majority of the metalsmithing and Sabrina does the majority of design work. “It’s a bit of whimsy and symbology at the same time. We get many of our inspirations from tribal and ethnic adornment, and we love to add an industrial, modern and tribal, aesthetic.”

Their Etsy shop is packed full of earrings, rings, necklaces, bracelets, and brooches. “I’ve always been fascinated by fire and its transformative properties on copper,” Dante says. Though there are some pieces for men, “masculine crafted copper rings,” Dante suggests, the focus is on female adornment. “It’s a form of art people can justify purchasing, and it’s personal.”

Amethyst Copper Earrings Amethyst and copper earrings.

Photograph courtesy of Dante Acevedo

Building on their passion for the richness of oxidized mixed metals, their work is a mix of fluidity, shape, antiquity and modern sensibilities. “I really love copper as an elemental metal because the color is a miraculous property,” says Dante. “There’s no other metal, other than gold, that exhibits such rich color and metallic luster.” But beyond the sheer beauty of copper Dante chooses to work with copper because it lends itself to alloying. “Copper compliments minerals and gemstones like turquoise and labradorite. It’s super ductile, and super easy to form under tool and flame,” he says. “The finishes that copper, brass and bronze can take are so varied that it’s truly a joy to work with.” Mocahete uses copper wire, sometimes recycled, and purchases wire and 24 -12 gauge copper sheet from Rio Grande in Albuquerque. They use liver of sulfur to oxidate their metals, occasionally using ammonia and salt to create a verdigris, but Dante is fond of Jax’s patina. He then seals the jewelry with a microcrystalline wax such as Renaissance.

They have a large following in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, the West Coast and New York. Given that reach, one might assume they attend craft shows and fairs. “Being located in Central South Georgia there aren’t many dependable shows to attend,” Dante admits. “We haven’t found the appropriate venues to make the expenditure of time and resources necessary.” Therefore their focus is online only which has proven to be a successful business model. Well, that and the sturdy hand made one-of-a-kind items they create. “We stick to being bold and unique,” Dante says, shunning the mass production mentality. “We are artists and creators.” And much like the name of their studio, copper helps reconfigure a ring or necklace into satisfying adornment.

Resources:

Mocahete, Quitman, GA

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