Going in Reverse: How Old World Artisans Put the Ashland Theater on the Governor’s Christmas Tree

Going in Reverse: How Old World Artisans Put the Ashland Theater on the Governor’s Christmas Tree

Posted by in Custom Jewelry, News

Alvaro and Caroline Coronado’s Ashland Jewelry studio is a creation frozen in time. A seemingly ancient, chaotic workbench reveals a mystifying selection of primitive, handmade tools, recycled dental picks and computer scraps, chunks of wood, cloth and metal with proprietary uses that master goldsmith and jewelry designer Alvaro closely guards. Foot-powered bellows, discarded TV stands and various railroad ephemera clutter the studio, but all serve to enhance his imaginative creations. “When I have handmade tools I can mold exactly what I need,” says the lean, cheerful and doggedly self-sufficient Colombian native, whose long fingernails attest to his love of flamenco guitar. “I am a hoarder. I keep each little piece of metal because one day it will become a tool, and when I have my hands trained and my brain trained to create that tool, it works better than anything else.” Alvaro’s remarkable tool-making abilities, with Caroline’s business acumen combined to meticulously create a sterling silver Ashland Theater Christmas ornament. In a recent Celebrating Virginia’s Localities competition, it was chosen to grace the tree of the Executive Mansion. With no formal or professional training other than an unwavering work ethic, Alvaro put 50 years of Old World craftsmanship and experience into the scant 48 hours he had to create the exquisite ornament while Hurricane Joaquin raged outside the couple’s 800-square-foot Ashland studio apartment. “We originally were planning to go North that weekend,” Caroline says. “Since we were stuck here, we decided to make it after all.” Working feverishly, almost nonstop, Alvaro completed the piece with less than 15 minutes to spare. Alvaro’s jewelry-making career began at age 9, watching over the shoulders of master jewelers in Bogota as he swept the floors. He endured brush-offs and elbows to the stomach but started learning trade secrets. “Colombia is a loving country, but jobs are extremely difficult to find,” Caroline says, which helps explain why older jewelers are reluctant to teach their young charges. “So when you have a skill, you go into survival mode and are reluctant to share.” “But poverty and hunger are great motivators,” Alvaro says. Arriving in America in 1985, and then moving to Ashland 10 years later after living in Long Island and North Carolina, the Coronados originally had a second-floor studio by the railroad tracks. Passing trains shook the building, further challenging Alvaro to perfect his rock-steady skills, honed from the adversities of working in Colombia. Successfully completing the ornament by deadline was testament to Alvaro’s discipline and half-century dedication to perfecting his craft. With the partial view of the historical theater from his studio window shrouded in torrential rain, he worked from photographs — melting, forming and then flattening finger-size silver ingots into square strips in a hand-cranked press. He then cut, molded and soldered those strips into rudimentary shape. He scratched the shapes and texture of brick into the central tower, set the...

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Jewish Marriage Ceremonial Ring

Jewish Marriage Ceremonial Ring

Posted by in Blog, Custom Jewelry

Alvaro Coronado handcrafts Jewish Marriage Ceremonial Ring and his workmanship provides joys, rewards, and some added surprises. The back story is fascinating. Alvaro Coronado received permission to recreate this piece from Victoria and Albert Museum, the original of which is part of their collection, with the understanding he would not sell it nor receive monetary compensation for it. He wanted to handcraft it as a request by his wife, Caroline, who had seen it in a book and loved it. Alvaro recreated it and used it for portfolio purposes only. Tucked away for years, it was discovered in New York by a radio producer who himself was getting married and he wanted a traditional Jewish marriage ceremonial ring for the ceremony. He called Alvaro and Caroline Coronado and requested to purchase it or rent it in the alternative if not available for sale. Alvaro and Caroline Coronado felt doing either of those two things would be a violation of their promise to Victoria and Albert Museum, and promises matter to Alvaro and Caroline. Although strangers to the Coronado’s, they did not want to disappoint the groom and his wife-to-be of an important part of their Jewish tradition for their all important wedding day and religious ceremony, so they took a leap of faith and shipped it to the groom as a loan for the couple to have their traditional Jewish ceremony with a Jewish Marriage Ceremonial Ring. They learned from the couple, that a Jewish Marriage Ring was shared for marriages within the village. The Coronado’s were also given the added honor of being invited to the ceremony. Coincidentally, Alvaro Coronado and Caroline Coronado had plans to go to New York City for the preview of a short documentary they were associate producers of, A Gift Divine about young Michelangelo, so they were given the opportunity to meet the newlyweds and make new friends. Although, Caroline admitted when she found out the groom was the producer of a New York radio show her New York skepticism kicked in, and she asked him if this was one of those media promotional tests like “how trusting will people be and responsive to someone’s needs” and she and Alvaro were the random test. The groom said, “no definitely not the case, but if it were, Alvaro and Caroline would surely have passed the test.” In the end, the Jewish Marriage Ceremonial Ring Alvaro recreated mirroring the image suspected to be that of Solomon’s temple, had a higher purpose, unknown to them at the time of creation, and its mission served. The joys, rewards, and surprises of art and craftsmanship serving a higher...

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