Carving Mexican Amber with Joaquin Lopez Lopez

Carving Mexican Amber From Start to Finish

Let us introduce you to one of our favorite artists that we work with here in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Joaquin Lopez Lopez.  Though Joaquin apprenticed with world renown sculptor Pedro Pica Piedra, for the most part he is a self taught artist and sculptor. He is very dedicated to his art form, as well as the material he creates his incredible sculptures with.  In fact, he only carves Mexican amber. He’s from Simojovel, Chiapas, born and raised close to the amber mines so he’s got amber running through his veins.

Two of Joaquin’s pieces won in last years Expo Ambar de Chiapas.  This annual event is the premiere amber exhibition in Mexico, where amber artists- mainly from Chiapas- compete in different categories.  In 2016 Joaquin won 1st place for Best Relief Carving, and 2nd place for Best Sculpture.

We’ve been commissioning sculptures and carvings from Joaquin for over 4 years.  Most of the time he takes the hunk of amber we give him and the specimen itself tells him what to carve it into.  He then comes back with a gorgeous finished sculpture, often inspired by the natural world.  He has the incredible creative ability to take a 24+ million year old fossil and carve it into a truly beautiful work of art, essentially bringing it back to Life by transforming into something new.

For this month’s post we are highlighting one of his most recent works from start to finish.  We commissioned him to do a Day of the Dead skull and gave him a nice chunk of Mexican amber to take home asking him to photograph some of the process.  Of course, he has full artistic license when creating commissioned pieces.  Consequently, this is a sneak peak into his process of making this truly amazing piece…


The chunk of Mexican amber he went home with….


First cuts and basic shape


Working out the design




The third eye keyhole comes out


Design complete and ready for final polish


The gorgeous Mexican amber skull carving he came back with…


A great example of the blue green fluorescence Mexican amber is known for


Thanks Joaquin! You rock and we enjoy working with you xo

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