Waning Days In Peru-Communique’

Waning Days In Peru-Communique’

The last day spent in Peru was the highlight. Our host invites us to his silver factory.   This is the culmination of years of friendship.  We have sold their silver jewelry in our store and now we are able to see where it is born! We find our way down the twisted streets of Lima and wind up at a nondescript building that is three or four stories tall. The security camera’s validate our presence and the doors electronically allow us passage to the inner sanctum. Sunlight beams into this building from the open air above. Part of the building is shielded the elements and part of the building recognizes that this part of the world is a particularly beautiful environment and lets the year around warmth into the workspace.

We are immediately welcomed by Alphonzo, the Pader Familius of the Delapina Silver Factory. His daughter Marcy gets ready to translate our interactions. Alphonzo will have nothing of it! He explains to Marcy that he wants to give the tour and she can act as the professional interpreter! Alphonzo invites us into the building and the first object that is encountered is a very large bar of silver that lies on the floor. He invites us to pick it up and take it home with us.

It is a ploy, because it weighs one thousand ounces and we can not lift it!

I reflect on my four decades as a Leathersmith at the Buffalo Billfold Company and realize that he has spent the same amount of time as a silversmith.   We both have pursued  ancient artisanship.  We have both trusted in craftsman’s way of life, command over materials, tools, processes that keep alive the pride in cottage industries of the Americas. This is precisely why we share such a common bond.

We tour the factory from floor to floor. His sons are production managers and international sales managers, daughter Marcy returns home to Peru to design new jewelry for the company. It is detailed work that all starts with professional drawings, weights, measures of each project. This assures that when she has left Peru the attention to detail will be observed by the many artisans that will create the final products.

We are introduced to life long dedicated employees, they work in the factory by smelting & drawing the silver into products unimaginable. Women are soldiering silver chain, link by link.

The small furnace roars melting silver before our eyes. His employees are also an integral part of his business, they move and work with a sense of pride. They are his extended family and friends. Working in precious metals involves trust, these craftsman have been awarded that honor.

They emboss and deboss the flat panels of silver, they draw the delicate silver wire into chain. All of this is done by simple machinery and all by the hand of man (women also). At the end of the day sweeping and dusting catches the excess silver and it is smelted back into the products that grace the showrooms throughout Lima and the world.

When the tour is nearly over we are given privilege to the exclusive showroom. This room displays many of the products that are currently in production and also many one of a kind pieces. As we enter the room we encounter a near legendary piece of work by their company.

They were commissioned by the government of Peru for the Queen of Spain (upon her specific request). The Queen had inquired if silver craftsmanship was practiced in Peru as it was in past centuries? The result was a four by eight foot panel produced by Alphonzo and Delapina Silver Factory. The Queen was overcome by the craftsmanship. Delapina Silversmithing has earned a point of pride throughout the America’s and beyond. We were beholden to have had the opportunity to tour this place of historic silversmithing, silversmithing that has endured the ages.

Our time in Lima & Peru has been well spent, our host family has tended to our every need and we feel privileged to have made this most kindred connection.

Bill Keitel

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