I recently acquired this fabulous Mexican Tin Art figure and did a little research on the art form. I discovered that in Mexico, tin work goes back to the 16th century. Whereas, the rich and elite use silver and other precious metals for jewelry and decorative objects, tin is used by poorer people to create the same objects as those elaborated in silver, but at a much lower cost. Tin has wonderful properties that are friendly to artisans. Tin is inexpensive, readily available, soft, pliable and paintable. Tin artists produce candelabras, frames, ornaments, jewelry boxes, figures, lanterns, bowls, and even nativities. Often glass, mirror, talavera tiles and other materials are used to accent the tin work. Tin is also used in religious remembrances in nichos, votives and ex votos. On holidays, such as Day of the Dead and Christmas special tin objects are created to adorn the home.
Tin art styles vary throughout Mexico. Tin artists from Oaxaca prefer to leave their pieces natural and shiny, or go to the other extreme, painting the objects with bright vibrant colors. The tin from San Miguel de Allende is put through a process to age or oxidize the tin before shaping it into the desired result.