Category: Featured Artisans

Featuring Ceramics Artisan: Alberto Segura

This season, we celebrate one of EPC’s favorite artisans, Alberto Segura whose award-winning ceramics are sold through only a handful of galleries and shops. Mr. Segura lives and works in Nasca (or Nazca), Peru in the desert about eight hours southeast of Lima.

Using the same techniques as the ancient Nasca ceramists (200 BC thru 700 AD) Segura carries on Nasca’s culture–famous for its pottery, textiles, and architecture (including aquaducts that are still used today).

The Process

Sr. Segura collects the ingredients for his clay in the desert. After mixing the clay by hand, he dries it in antique clay pots (formally used to store Pisco), and then forms each piece (by hand) using very small coils. Using tools that he has made, at leather-hard stage, he paints a “slip” on the clay and let’s it dry. Once dried,he then paints over the slip using minerals that have been ground in an antique mortar and pestle. Finally, the pot is burnished with a stone, then fired in wood burning kiln.

Sr. Segura shares his studio with a variety of birds, including an owl. When I worked in his studio he would rise at 5 every morning to collect water for the day (Nasca only has water for a couple hours a day, he fills all available containers for use in the studio and for family use). Outside the city limits, water is delivered once a week by truck, each household has a barrel that gets refilled).

Alberto is an authority on the Nasca Culture and we are endlessly proud to share his work with you!

How We Got Access to Hidden Treasures: The Cachi Sisters

peruvian silver cuff

Had it not been for the approval of a shaman, who just happened to be doing a cleansing of the artists’ studio that day, we might have never been able to bring you the exquisite jewelry of the Cachi sisters.

Peruvian artisans - Cachi sisters

In their small and humble taller (the Peruvian term for studio), tucked into the busy streets of Cusco, Peru, sisters Hilda and Sonia Cachi work with quiet intensity, seemingly unaware of the hustle and bustle outside. They’re carrying out an uncompromised family tradition of making some of Peru’s finest silver jewelry.

silver smith peru

At the recommendation of a dear friend, I went to visit Hilda and Sonia, who are famously reclusive, working only with buyers and clients that meet their standards-standards known only to them. With great hope and excitement, I trekked to their unassuming space and thanks to that shaman who advised Hilda that my aura was a radiant blue, I was admitted access to their magical world.

silver heart earrings - cache sisters

Hilda and Sonia are just two of Gregorio Cachi’s five daughters, all of whom are metal-smiths. Continuing in the footsteps of their award-winning father, the sisters practice time-honored and highly laborious techniques to make silver jewelry that is so highly crafted that their clients travel from all of the world-Mexico, Ecuador, Argentina-to view and purchase their work. Hilda’s work tends to be more Pre-Columbia and rustic, while Sonja’s work can be identified by contemporary variations on traditional designs.

making colonial silver jewelry

Sitting on wooden benches, amidst a clutter of hammers and other tools, they work tirelessly at every detail. They pour silver into antique molds and through careful hammering and refining, create one-of-a-kind colonial pieces that are of such quality and detail that associations, such as UNESCO, seek them out. Hilda has been honored with awards from UNESCO and the Peruvian government as has her father.

At El Pequeno Colibri, we are dedicated to honoring artists whose work honors Peruvian heritage and culture. And so I am delighted (and grateful!) to be able to present you with the work of Hilda and Sonia Cachi.