Hojalata (Ho-huh-la-tuh) art is a very colorful style that became popular due to the wide availability of tin in Mexico. Also called the “Poor Man’s Silver”, tin was easy to find, and the arrival of the Spanish in Mexico introduced the locals to new and unique methods of using this material as early as the 14th century.
Leftover scraps from larger projects allowed artists a new way to express themselves- because of this, Mexican tin art (aka Hojalata) is still commonly found today. It’s used in masks, mirrors, milagros (small religious amulets), ex-votos (depictions of vows, or promises), and much more. You can see plenty of Mexico’s spirit and history shining through these colorful creations.
A note to parents- Since this activity involves metal, you’ll be asked to take over for your little artist in the latter steps. Special caution should be taken when finished to ensure that all sharp edges have been covered up and hammered flat- like always, safety first!
- Aluminum Baking Dish
- Permanent Markers
Before you start:
Ask an adult to use the hammer to gently flatten any logos or designs already present on the baking dish. A good artist deserves a blank canvas!
Step 1: Indent
Using the rounded edge of a marker (or a dull pencil), indent your design onto the baking dish. Start with light pressure to “sketch out” your design.
Step 2: Complete design
When you’re happy with your design, finalize it by increasing pressure. Trace the lines over and over until you’re content with your art’s texture.
Step 3: Add color
No Hojalata is complete without some color! Using your permanent markers, trace the lines or fill in the spaces. Creativity is key! Have fun with it.
Checkpoint: To protect little hands, this next part should only be done by an adult. Gloves are advised.
Step 4: Trim
Now that your artist’s Hojalata piece is complete, trim off the sides of the baking dish over a trash can, to catch the burrs. Leave enough of a border to fold over the rough edge in the next step.
Step 5: Fold
This step is crucial, carefully fold over the border twice as shown below. This will protect your child’s hands (and yours!) from unfriendly cuts and scratches. Hammer the edge flat after each fold. When done, run a finger along each side and over each corner. Hammer down or glue over anything sharp.
Well done! Find somewhere to hang it- maybe a place where it will catch the light?
Parents, while you’re cutting, folding, and hammering, here’s some questions to ask your artists:
Why did so many Mexican artists use tin? Do we have any excess materials that we should be using for art?
How did you feel while making this? Were there any tricks you used that made it easier?
What else could we use this style for?
If you do this project, be sure to take a photo and tag us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. We love to see what our listeners can do!