They are the masters. As a poet plays with words, the Filigree craftsman is the absolute alchemist of his art.
the protagonists of our history
At Joalharia do Carmo, the artisans who believe in, and continue to work in, the increasingly rare craft of handmade Filigree
using ancestral techniques and utensils take centre stage.
The magic happens through their hands. It is by their hands that gold becomes art: authentic Portuguese Certified Filigree.
Executing the structure that makes up the pieces for adornment or personal use is the craft of the goldsmith. His art begins with preparing the metal alloy, melting it. After the metal has been melted, the goldsmith pours it into an ingot mold, then forces the metal through successive drawing channels in a rolling mill, while lubricating the surface with wax and pulling the wire through a row of increasingly fine holes. Then comes the structure.
The goldsmith shapes the wire to create the wall of the frame, defining the external and internal contours of the piece, executing the reinforcing spokes by arranging them in a visually appealing way. He returns to the stage at the end of the show. Once filled by the “enchedeiras”, the goldsmith sprinkles the pieces with silver or gold solder, then burnishes the metal with fire until the solder reaches its melting point.
Tweezers, scissors, and gold or silver wire are apparently the tools that the “enchedeiras” (literally, “the filling women”), usually women, need to fulfill their role in the art of creating a very fine mesh that fills the empty spaces left by the goldsmith in the piece’s structure.
Each strand is cut to size and meticulously laid, one by one, under pressure, in rounded models in the shape of scales, spirals, rolls, coils, and cornucopias: it is the pinnacle of decorative grammar in Portuguese Certified Filigree.
Passion, patience, and meticulousness are rare but essential virtues in this job. The “enchedeira” comes to fore; she is to filigree as essence is to perfume.