Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Kachina brooch.

Before leaving on my recent trip to Arizona and the Grand Canyon, I knew that I wanted to buy Native American jewelry. I didn't want a bunch of postcards or magnets or t-shirts; I wanted just one memorable piece of jewelry, ideally made by an artist who was living. As an working artist myself, it was important to me to directly support someone who works at the metals craft and is still around to benefit from someone buying their work.  

After seeing lots of both contemporary and antique pieces, I realized that I was always drawn to the overlay technique used by Hopi artisans. A design is pierced from flat sheet silver and then soldered onto another darkened, textured sheet of silver. Zuni needle point jewelry makes my heart beat a bit faster too, but I love the clean, graphic quality of the overlay. Piercing flat sheet is my favorite technique for embellishment, so it's not much of a surprise that I love Hopi jewelry!  

In Flagstaff (awesome little town), I stopped in at the Painted Desert Trading Co. and found a darling little brooch made by the artist Ricky Coochwytewa:

This guy is a Mudhead Kachina, one of the spirits of the Hopi religion and a clown figure who interacts and plays games with audiences at Hopi ceremonies. The brooch is only 1 3/4 inches tall, so all that detail in such a small area is really impressive.

Painted Desert also had some other really nice pieces:

Eagle belt buckle by Darren Seweyestewa 
Lots of Zuni needle point brooches!
I didn't get the artist's name for this little guy.

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