Spencer and Emi MacCallum live in Casas Grandes and have been instrumental in the promotion of Mata Ortiz pottery as well as providing vision and direction for the preservation and restoration of numerous old building in town. Our Copper Canyon Tours regularly stop here in this tiny and historic village.
Near the plaza in Casas Grandes, the MacCallums have several historic adobes they’ve restored and furnished with local antiques as part of a conservation effort to preserve some of the old aspect of the town. To help carry the project, they offer extended-stay rentals and sometimes can accommodate shorter-term guests. This place is perfect for our small group trips as they emerge from Copper Canyon and the Sierra Madres.
One house, La Casa del Nopal, resembles a small hacienda. With wireless Internet, library/lecture room, and overflow space nearby, it lends itself to small business retreats, academic conferences, and workshops. Another houses has a large, semi-subterranean, secret room from the mid-nineteenth century, built to hide women and children when the Apaches attacked. Each of these old adobes gives the feeling of walking into the nineteenth century, and someone is usually on hand to give a free, informal tour.
Several of the rooms feature woodwork by Roberto Hernandez. Here is what the Mata Ortiz Calendar says about his work:
A tradition of fine woodworking runs back four generations in the Hernández family from great-grandfather José, to grandfather Pablo, to father José, and lastly to Roberto Hernandez, who has raised his legacy of fine craftsmanship to the level of contemporary fine art. Roberto gives us unique pieces made with techniques developed over years of experience. His method calls for 15 separate sandings, each with a different grit, followed by polishing with steel wool, suede and deer horn, and finally six applications of the finest natural oils. Without harming living trees, he hand-selects aged wood, especially aspen and the root woods of cottonwood and black walnut, in the Sierra Madres of Chihuahua. Each work is a collector’s piece. Roberto finds his inspiration not only in the natural forms of branches, roots, and fallen logs that he collects, but in the work of such artistic late greats as George Nakashima and Sam Maloof. His works have won prizes at the Chihuahua state level and are sold and exhibited in galleries in the United States.
Col. Cuauhtemoc, Chihuahua
The video above features some of his pieces in Casa de Nopal.