Ashland couple’s ornament picked for governor’s tree

Ashland couple’s ornament picked for governor’s tree

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By Meredith Rigsby News Editor ASHLAND — After impending hurricane Joaquin caused Alvaro and Caroline Coronado to cancel their travel plans, they decided, 48 hours before the deadline, to design and create a Christmas ornament that represents the Town of Ashland and would compete with other entries for a coveted spot on the governor’s holiday tree.The Town of Ashland was previously informed by the Virginia Municipal League (VML) that the theme for ornaments to be placed on the 2015 governor’s holiday tree was “Localities of the Commonwealth.”  The Ashland Main Street Association (AMSA) then took over as facilitator of the selection process, set up guidelines for the ornament according to those provided by the VML, and launched the competition.Artists and residents who wanted to participate in the competition were asked to make a Christmas ornament that represented the Ashland community and its spirit.Submissions were due by Oct. 4 and a decision was made by a panel of judges by Oct. 7, according to Caroline Coronado. After the judges had made their decision, Nancy Cozart, who acted as the point person for the process, contacted the Coronados to let them know the ornament they created, a sterling silver and Austrian Swarovski crystal replica of the Ashland Theater, had been selected to represent Ashland on the governor’s holiday tree. “I probably would have said work quickly in a base metal, but, for Alvaro, it was the Governor’s Mansion, sterling silver and that’s it,” said Caroline Coronado. “It was, you know, the elevation, in any design we match use with materials. … The elements and quality were as important as the aesthetics. It wasn’t about creating an illusion; it was about quality, just like Ashland.” Because their decision to create an ornament was last minute, the Coronados worked literally around the clock, sleeping for only about two hours during the two days it took to design and construct the piece.   Alvaro made the ornament entirely from scratch, melting bars of silver, cutting out metal pieces by hand, and putting together wires to secure it. Caroline and Alvaro Coronado made it to Gallery Flux, where ornaments were submitted, a mere 10 minutes before the deadline cutoff. “We ran out of here literally … we grabbed the umbrella, it was pouring, it was windy and we actually thought it would be faster if we just ran down to Gallery Flux,” Caroline Coronado said. … “It was kind of funny because we were running down the street and we both took the umbrella and turned face on to the theater, looked up on it and we go ‘Yeah, let’s go.’ We turned around and ran the rest of the way.” When the Coronados learned that their ornament design has been selected to represent Ashland on the governor’s holiday tree they were both surprised and honored. “We know almost every artist in Ashland and Hanover...

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Ashland Ornament Designed by Alvaro & Caroline Coronado

Ashland Ornament Designed by Alvaro & Caroline Coronado

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Ashland is most grateful for the artistic talent of Alvaro and Caroline Coronado.  In December 2015 they were recognized for creating a beautiful holiday ornament that was chosen to represent Ashland and was placed on the Governor’s tree.  Read below for details in the Dec 1, 2015 Richmond Times-Dispatch article.  In addition – take a look at the video created by WulfTeam Productions that describes their inspiration – The Ashland Theater.   The couple made models of their original ornament to sell to the community and gave a portion of the proceeds back to the Ashland Theater Foundation to use for renovation purposes.   Ashland is lucky to have such generous artists. Ashland Main Street Association...

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How Old World Artisans Put the Ashland Theater on the Governor’s Christmas Tree

How Old World Artisans Put the Ashland Theater on the Governor’s Christmas Tree

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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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Ashland business owners are custodians of sentimentality

Ashland business owners are custodians of sentimentality

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California resident Lori Lang traced her family lineage to the 18th century North Carolina Gov. William Tryon. Then she used the Internet to find an Ashland jewelry maker to reproduce a ring from the Tryon family. Lang said she wanted something tangible to remind her where she came from. “I wanted something to remind me continuously of my family and how I was raised,” said Lang, who received the finished replica ring from Ashland jewelry maker Alvaro Coronado this fall. She said she fell in love with the mourning ring that belonged to Margaret Wake Tryon, William Tryon’s wife, when she toured the Tryon Palace in New Bern, N.C., a modern reconstruction of the state’s Colonial royal governors’ palace. William Tryon was governor from 1765 to 1771. After getting permission from the museum to have a copy made, Lang shopped around for local jewelers to do the job. She came across Coronado’s jewelry work during an Internet search for more information on Margaret Wake Tryon because Coronado had done some work with the Tryon Palace. She said she was impressed with the level of detail in his work and asked him to create a copy of the ring, which has a row of diamonds embedded in deep blue enamel, with pearls and gold on the edge. Coronado put together 60 individual pieces of the ring, straying from the popular method of using a pre-made mold. “People in the United States like things handmade because it makes it unique,” Coronado said. On Lang’s replica, her family lineage is engraved on the inner band, which reads “Tryon, Webb, Fry, Lang.” She said each time she traced her family to a previous generation, she’d find new stories about her family. But the same family values were embedded in every generation. “It was interesting because family values had been passed on so cleanly, so succinctly, in terms of beliefs in country, hard work, family togetherness and church,” Lang said. Without children of her own, Lang plans to pass the ring on to her nieces or nephews. *** Lang said she was first struck by Coronado’s work when she saw a silver ring with a castle at its center on his website. Coronado said he made the Jewish wedding ring, a silver ring with a castle as its centerpiece, more than 10 years ago. His wife, Caroline Coronado, explained she saw a picture of this ring in a book and fell in love with it. And New Jersey resident Jeff Haveson saw the copy Alvaro Coronado made when he was searching for a Jewish wedding ring to use for his wedding to Rita Hindin. In 2009, Haveson reached out to Coronado and asked to rent the ring for the day. But Coronado has an agreement with the Victoria and Albert Museum, where the original ring was, that prevents him from making profit from the...

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