Off Tiradentes main square is a small plaza with thousands of local artisans work. The locals are cheerful, open and very friendly. They sell just about anything you could ever imagine and it is an absolute pleasure to meet the local artists and buy a great souvenir.
What to buy: Any of the colorful plates are beautiful
What to pay: 10$ US for a large plate or 2$ for a small Christ the Redeemer.
Fascinating little rocks!! Stunning colours! Perfect sparkle!! If you want to have a look at a good collection of minerals visit the Museu de Mineralogia. My favourite stone is Aqua Marina with that elegant blue colour.
I visited a shop to learn a little more. They told me there are a lot of different qualities that have very different prices, sometimes less than half the price. They showed me several gems and helped me memorize the names. If you are an ignorant in this field. believe me, it is impossible to tell the difference. I am not saying that these people are not honest. I am saying that the gems of high or low quality are equally beautiful to the layman's eye...
These two men were extremely polite and friendly. Prices are not low but are not absurdly high either. Negotiate hard!
The word amethyst comes from Greek and means "not drunk" probably from the colour that looks like wine :)
Aqua Marina is latin and means "sea water".
Look at the photos!
A soapstone quarry in Santa Rita de Ouro Preto, 28 km away, provides endless supplies for attractive carvings and imitations of Aleijadinho work. Handicrafts include jars, vases, ashtrays, plates, cups, boxes and many more. The colours of the objects may vary from white, grey, green to brown and orange.
There is a daily handicraft market that has a great sellection of soapstone decorative objects. You can even observe local craftsmen at work.
There is a soapstone quarry not far from Ouro Preto and provides lots of material for the souvenir markets and carving imitations of the works of Ajeijandinho.
The Largo do Coimbra, near the Igreja de Sao Francisco has a very good selection of soapstone art.
This man was carving intricate pictures from soapstone. This artisan was standing alone, but the outdoor market is not hard to find, with its white umbrellas over all the stands.
What to buy: The outdoor market full of vases, ashtrays, jewelry boxes, plates and cups made from soapstone. Gemstones are also a local speciality of Ouro Preto, and less expensive than you will find elsewhere.
Hélio Petrus sculpts in cedar in the style of the great artists of the Brazilian Baroque. His studio is located in Mariana, a beautiful town just eight miles from Ouro Preto.
This small piece occupies a place of honor in my collection of 234 Haitian paintings, 18 Brazilian paintings, two Indo-Persian miniatures, over 300 molas, and sundry other works.
What to pay: $100 up.
Valadares has a studio not far from Praça Tiradentes. This is one of two 9x12" paintings I bought. The artist is even better in larger works. (I was only one week into a five–week trip and wanted pieces I could conveniently carry around in my suitcase.)
What to buy: Like Taos, New Mexico, which it resembles in many ways, Ouro Preto is home to many artists.
Additionally, semi–precious stones are a bargain in Ouro — 1/3 to 1/2 lower than elsewhere in Brazil. That's especially true of the imperial topaz, mined nearby and nowhere else in the world.