Miguel Melendez

Miguel Meléndez

Miguel Meléndez (???? – ????) For several years, it may have been the only game in town, but it remains astounding how many noted silversmiths refined their art in Taxco’s Los Castillo workshop. A photograph taken in 1942 depicts the silversmiths who were with Los Castillo in the early years.

Elpidio Morales is in the back, next to him is Antonio Castillo; Leopoldo Betancourt is on the other side with a raised hammer; clockwise around the table are Jorge Castillo (front left,} Miguel Meléndez, Roberto Abilez, Enrique Urilee, Carlos Mejía (center back,) El Nito, Macedonio Martínez, Bertín Juárez, Enrique Betancourt, and Angel Rodríguez (front right.)

Miguel Meléndez first apprenticed at William Spratling’s {The Father of Mexican Silver) Taller de las Delicias and, for about three years, was trained by Antonio Castillo who taught him the art of silversmithing. Then, in 1940, Meléndez joined Los Castillo upon its opening. He worked there for fifteen years. Among his contemporaries was the inimitable, Margot de Taxco.

Meléndez was responsible for the development of enamelwork that Los Castillo introduced into their jewelry. He worked with Reveriano Castillo developing enamel on silver and both are is still considered, with Justo Castillo, masters of the art of silver repoussé.

When Margot left Los Castillo to establish her own workshop, Meléndez followed and soon enameling on silver became the hallmark of Margot’s jewelry. He eventually managed her shop, but never opened a workshop of his own.

He did, however, occasionally work on his own, finding inspiration for his silver jewelry designs in nature and in motifs taken from pre-Conquest clay seals. Meléndez’ mark is an M circled by a C. The word ‘Taxco’ also often appears.

Miguel Meléndez produced silver jewelry for many well-known Taxco designers. His independent work appears from the 1950’s through the 1970’s. His earliest independent pieces were in traditional designs that were complemented with abalone and stone chip inlay. Later designs have a more modernist influence and feature facet cut amethyst and alexandrite gemstones.

The workmanship on Meléndez pieces are often referred to by experts as amazing and fantastic.

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