Sunday, January 25, 2009


By Travis M. Whitehead
SANTA CLARA DEL COBRE - The tar yielded before the onslaught of the knife, setting free the intricate flowers and leaves hibernating within the black emptiness spread over the copper plate like dark winter embracing withered landscapes. As Anita Ziranda's hands cut the delicate lines of the petals, the copper broke through like sunshine clawing its way through dead clouds, illuminating the garden erupting to across the piece.

"I started doing this because I was a widow; I had a daughter," said the 46-year-old Anita, lines like starlight radiating from the corners of her eyes as she spoke, generous wisps of hair falling across her full cheeks.

Anita has worked for Cobre el Porton for about 20 years; after the workers at Cobre El Porton pound the pieces into shape, Anita instills them with their glowing personalities, etching their faces with refined and eloquent expressions that reveal the joy she derives from the experiences while creating them.

Dressed in a blue top and white skirt, she spoke exuberantly of her trade. She has a number of designs she likes to imprint into her pieces. "I especially like the woven flowers. When I do this I'm thinking, 'How is it going to come out?' The emotion. In the moment it's done, I say, 'Wow! This is going to work!'"

She's won several awards for her work; often, Rosie Paz, the wife of owner Juan Jose Paz, creates special designs for her to create. Ziranda has a thorough understanding of the copper trade, having taken classes at a local school. "I don't have the tools to do everything, but I know how to do it. I started learning how to make jewelry. I got bored because it was just tiny pieces I had to weld together."

She's created a tranquil artistic grotto where she can cultivate the peace necessary for the liberation of her talent. Cola de borrego - sheep's tail, plants with clusters of juicy pale green pods, hung from coffee cans attached to the eaves over her back porch. Her young grandson shoveled dirt into a toy truck; clothing hung from twisted twine wound around two large poles leaning away from the house; oleander and a small avocado tree lingered near clumps of lantana adorned with burnt orange blooms. Hibiscus with delicate pink blooms, and fuschia-colored arete flowers whose fragile filaments dangled from bulbous blossoms, crowded a brick wall.

She's passed the skill on to her daughter, Maria, who took a drawing course and now approaches the decoration of copper pieces from a different direction. Departing from the more popular floral designs, she prefers adorning herpieces with abstract medievel motifs, twisting and turning lines, gently flowing waves flipping back on themselves, sharp angles and downward spirals. These are details, Anita said, that insist on great skill and concentration.

"It takes more time. You have to be very careful not to go into small parts. She just does it with a needle. It has to be a special order."

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