Author Archives: Curtis Liles

About Curtis Liles

We are retailers of Native American Art, Western Art and Pendleton Blankets. We have enjoyed this business and the relationships with our suppliers since 1985,

Pendleton AICF Blankets

Since 1995 Pendleton has sponsored scholarships to attend tribal colleges in Washington and Montana. The Pendleton Endowment Tribal Scholars has also been founded and funded by Pendleton Woolen Mills to provide scholarships in perpetuity for Native students attending college throughout the United States. The Pendleton American Indian College Fund line of blankets was offered to help fund these endeavors.

Today the Pendleton AICF line incorporates 12 blankets with a part of each sale going to fund scholarships and other needs of Native American students. Below you will find a little information about the most popular of these blankets.

Pendleton Water Blanket AKA Navajo Water Blanket

The Water Blanket is loosely based upon a photograph taken by the famous western photographer Edward Curtis. The saw tooth design elements come from the eye dazzler weavings of the Navajos and they have incorporated the dragon fly which is a symbol of water. People of the southwest have a very deep connection to water as it can be difficult to find.

Pendleton AICF Navajo Water Blanket

Pendleton AICF Navajo Water Blanket

Pendleton Hidatsa Earth Blanket

The Hidatsa Earth blanket also is loosely based upon a photograph taken by Edward Curtis. The blanket contains four crosses which represent the four cardinal directions present in the folklore of many Native Americans. Geometric elements represent the earth, sky and mountains while other geometric elements represent wheat, grass and seeds.

The Pendleton Hidatsa Earth Blanket

The Pendleton Hidatsa Earth Blanket

The Nike N7 Blanket

The Nike N7 blanket was the inspiration of Nike designer Derrick Roberts. Starting with design elements in Native clothing he first started at the corners of the blanket and worked inward. In the middle you will find three sets of arrows. The first set points to the left representing those that came before us, the next points to the right representing future generations and finally the middle set which points up and represents the current generation. Done in monochromatic black and white the reverse side is an exact negative of the front.

Nike Front

Pendleton Nike N7 Blanket

Pendleton AICF Ribbon Dance

The Pendleton Ribbon Dance blanket celebrates the opening ritual of the Seminole tribe’s Green Corn Festival. The women of the tribe dance around the sacred fire while clad in patchwork clothing and swinging ribbons in an effort to assure the sacred fire will burn into the coming year. This ritual is known as the Ribbon Dance.

Pendleton AICF Ribbon Dance

Pendleton AICF Ribbon Dance

All Pendleton Blankets

Pendleton Heritage Blankets

Pendleton has a line of blankets that they refer to as their Heritage Collection, the Pendleton blankets are old blanket designs which Pendleton brings back from it’s history. Occasionally one of these blankets are retired and another is issued, the lineup as it exists today is 6 blankets as indicated below.

Pendleton Silver Bark Blanket

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The Silver Bark is one of the most popular of the Heritage blankets. This blanket comes in twin-full, queen size and king size. Originally called the Aspen blanket and later renamed the Silver Bark this Pendleton blanket was inspired by  the silver and grey bark of the Aspen tree.

Pendleton Gatekeeper Blanket

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The  Gatekeeper blanket is an original Pendleton design harking from 1935. The blanket contains a central design element falling within a band through the center of the blanket which  is an example of a Center Point pattern. The central figure is an eight pointed star which is a common design of the various Sioux peoples. Representing a morning star, the design indicates a new beginning with the break of dawn. The Gatekeeper of the morning shows the way to the new light and knowledge of the dawning day.

Pendleton Iroquois Turtle Blanket

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The Iroquois  Turtle Blanket is a reincarnation  of an early 1900s Pendleton design. The Turtle blanket pays tribute to the Iroquois Confederacy, one of the oldest  democracies on earth, consisting of the Oneida, Seneca, Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga (and later the Tuscarora) Nations. The Turtle design was inspired by Iroquois, primarily Mohawk, legend. Long ago, the earth was covered with deep water and there were no people. According to stories, the birds saw Skywoman fall from the sky. As she fell, she grabbed the roots of a tree from heaven. The birds spread their wings together to save her. Only the Turtle was strong enough to hold her, so they placed her on the turtle’s back. There she planted the root; and as her garden grew, Turtle grew in size first becoming a large island, then finally North America, known as Turtle Island.

Pendleton Evening Star Blanket

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The Pendleton Evening Star features and traditional star symbol set upon the colors of the sunset. The blanket has been inspired by the Venus symbols that have been found on rock art throughout North and South America. These Venus symbols represent both the morning and evening stars and are found in many Native American myths. In northern Montana the Assiniboine people tell the tale of two brothers who became the morning and evening star in order to assist their tribe. The Pawnee tell of how Tirawa Atius, the high god gave duties to the sun, the moon and the stars. Female Evening Star created a celestial garden to the west while Morning Star sent rain to her garden and there Mother Maize grew food to feed the people. Zuni stories tell of a competition to win the heart of Evening Star and when Morning Star won her interest the world was born.

Pendleton Canyon Diablo Blanket

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The Canyon Diablo blanket includes diamonds, arrows, mountains and other graphics inspired by Native Americans. The blanket pays homage to the Canyon Diablo meteorite and impact upon the Arizona landscape. Landing in Northern Arizona upon what is now the Navajo reservation 50,000 years ago it predates human presence upon the land. Evidence suggests that the Anasazi people used fragments found along the rim for trade. In many Southwestern cultures Canyon Diablo Crater is considered a sacred spot. Myth suggests that the fragments of the meteorite contain magic powers and other special energy which probably is because of their magnetic properties.

Pendleton Dwelling Blanket

ZD435-52900aFirst made in Pendleton Woolen Mills in 1923 this blanket harkens from the heyday of trade blanket production. The pattern features stars centered in squares referencing the Morning Star while arrows provide the path to life and power. This is the latest addition to Pendleton’s Heritage Collection of blankets.

 

Pendleton Chief Joseph Blanket

The Chief Joseph blanket is the most enduring of the Pendleton blankets today.  The Chief Joseph blankets were introduced in the 1920’s and is still being woven today.  The blanket pays homage to one of the Northwest’s Nez Perce most famous warriors Chief Joseph.

Pendleton Chief Joseph Blanket

Pendleton Chief Joseph Blanket

The Nez Perce occupied 7.7 million acres of US reservation land which spread across the states of Oregon, Washington and Idaho. These lands were granted to the Nez Perce by the US government in 1855 and encompassed much of their traditional land including Chief Joseph’s Wallowa Valley.

By 1863 an influx of minors and settlers caused by the gold rush prompted the government to call a new council with the Nez Perce chiefs. At this council  the government offered the Nez Perce a much smaller reservation (760,000) acres situated near Lapwi a village in Idaho. In exchange the government would provide schools, hospitals and other necessities. Two of the chiefs accepted these new terms but Chief Joseph and a couple of other chiefs refused to sign the agreement.

The signers of the treaty moved all of their people to the new reservation in Idaho while those that did not sign remained on their traditional lands. A new tension existed between the two groups of Nez Perce, the signers and the non signers.

By 1873 Chief Joseph had negotiated a settlement with the government which granted him and his people the right to stay in Wallowa Valley. Four years later the government rescinded this agreement and sent General Howard to remove Chief Joseph and his people from their homeland. After meeting at Fort Lapwi General Howard gave the Wallowa band 30 days to move to Idaho. Chief Joseph plead for more time but Howard would not budge on his demands.

While his people were preparing to move Chief Joseph held council with the chiefs of the various bands of Nez Perce. Chief Joseph pushed for peace during these councils but many of the chiefs urged for war. During one council it was discovered that four young warriors had killed a group of white settlers and now the future had been cast.

Chief Joseph led his band to the Crow Indians in Montana hoping to find rescue there but the Crow people did not oblige. With General Howard in pursuit he led his people north hoping to find sanctuary with Chief Sitting Bull and his people who had moved to Canada in 1876.

He led Howard on a trek of 1170 miles utilizing tactics which commanded even Howard’s respect. After 3 months and only 40 miles from the Canadian border Chief Joseph surrendered to General Miles but this was only after a 5 day battle. Out of food, blankets and with the major war leaders dead Chief Joseph had no other choice.

During his surrender he is generally credited with what is now this famous quote:

“From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”

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Pendleton blankets have become a standard throughout the world for wool blankets and fabrics. Pendleton Woolen Mills uses 100% Merino wool to fabricate it’s wide array of blankets, clothing and fabrics. When you purchase a Pendleton blanket you are acquiring an item that will last a life time.

Origin of the Pendleton Woolen Mills

Thomas Kay who was an English weaver traveled to Oregon in 1863. Kay had already spent a stint working at weaving mills on the East coast but had earlier returned to England where he further honed his weaving expertise. The newly established state of Oregon was his destination because of the plentiful water and mild climate which made it ideal for raising sheep.

Arriving in Oregon his first job was helping to organize and run a mill in Brownsville Oregon. In time Thomas Kay became the superintendent of the mill and ran it until 1889. During 1889 he established his own mill in Salem and this became the foundation for a real American success story.

Fannie Kay, Thomas’s eldest daughter, would soon help her father in the family business. As time went by she married a local merchant C.P. Bishop and his expertise in marketing and merchandising helped in the establishing what was to become Pendleton Woolen Mills.

Eventually the Bishops added three boys to their family. Fannie and her father taught them the ways of milling while C. P. on the other hand taught them about retailing. The boys were well equipped to open their first mill in Pendleton  in 1909. This began the tradition of weaving “Indian” style blankets.

Pendleton blankets today are traded to Native peoples throughout the US and Canada and are used by them for primarily ceremonial purposes. The Pendleton blanket has become an integral part of their social customs.

Today the company has a variety of lines including, men’s wear, women”s wear and a variety of non Native American blankets. Other items include furniture, towels, pillows, and even different bags.

 

Native Americans and Trade blankets

Late in the 18th century as Europeans were pushing further into North American continent they traded blankets to the Native Americans. These first “trade” blankets were woven in England and imported into the Americas by the Hudson Bay company. The only other blankets available at that time were woven by the Navajo people in the southwestern United States. While the Navajo blanket was highly prized, they were not available to  vast numbers of other Native Americans. The reservation system brought an end to Navajo blankets as the traders offered them goods for rugs which they could market back east.

In 1892 J. Capps & Sons became the first American woolen mill to offer indian trade blankets. Capps was located in Jacksonville, Illinois and offered these trade blankets under the Capps name as well as American Indian Blanket Mills. Capps was later followed by several other mills as listed below. Only one of the companies that wove trade blankets made it longer than the mid 1930’s.

J Capps & Sons – Jacksonville, Illinois – Closed 1912
Buell Manufacturing – St Joseph, Missouri – Closed 1911
Racine Woolen Mills – Racine, Wisconsin- Closed 1912
Shuler & Benninghofen Woolen Mill – Hamilton, Ohio – Closed 1911
Oregon City Woolen Mills – Oregon City, Oregon – Closed 1935
Knight Woolen Mills (Provo Woolen Mills)- Provo, Utah – Closed 1920?
Pendleton Woolen Mills – Pendleton, Oregon 1896- Present Day

Pendleton Woolen Mills began production of trade blankets in 1896 and continues to be the lone manufacture of trade blankets in the USA. Hudson Bay blankets are still made in England. Pendleton has woven indian blankets under four primary lines, Pendleton, Beaver State, Cayuse and Blackfoot. The Cayuse and Blackfoot were budget lines and used remanufactured wool to create the blankets. Beaver State is the line that has been manufactured in the modern era. Pendleton also makes, clothing, accessories and blankets other than Native American or Indian designs.

Pendleton in recent years has manufactured blankets paying tribute to their long gone competitors. The Tribute series pays homage to Oregon City, Racine, Capps and Buell mills by reintroducing paterns they made famous.

Pendleton Buell 6 Tribute blanket

Pendleton Buell 6 Tribute blanket

Native American people today consume Pendleton Blankets for many different uses. They are used as  payment to medicine men or other tribal elders, retirement gifts, burial shrouds, graduation gifts, wedding gifts and finally bedding. Companies such as ourselves also sell Pendleton Blankets to people of all races and in all parts of the world.  Pendleton blankets have become widely desired because of their history and  commitment to quality.

Native American Jewelry – Navajo Phase 2

Phase 2 or the second period of Navajo silversmithing is generally thought of as being between 1910 -1940. This period is characterized by the exertion of outside forces such as commercialization, exploitation and economics almost dealing a death blow to the Navajo traditions.

The second period is when the economy out side of the reservation became increasingly relevant to the Navajo people. When prices for the products they sold, wool, sheep and jewelry declined in the outside economy it resulted in a lower price being offered to them.

This period was also the beginning of a growing tourism industry. By 1915 Fred Harvey would open hotels in Gallup, Flagstaff, Albuquerque and other cities along the Santa Fe railroad. The growing mass of tourists demanded inexpensive Indian-made curios. New businesses opened in these cities to fulfill the demand and needs of the tourists. These new businesses also provided the Navajo people with new tools, materials and techniques. In the past this access to new tools and materials would have inspired the Navajo smiths to create new designs and techniques but in this period the demands of commercialization and exploitation squashed the expression of authentic designs.

Needing to provide for their families many Navajo silversmiths were forced to go to work in commercial shops. Inside of these shops the Navajo’s were forced to make forms that were outside their norm. Items like boxes, letter openers, ashtrays, combs and more were being made. The benchwork made during this time can be characterized by their redundant forms, repetitive design and substantial decoration.  This jewelry was adorned with non-authentic designs such as bows and arrows, swastikas, thunderbirds and other. The Navajo tradition of simplicity of design and proportion would give way to commercialization and it’s result was technical and artistically inferior silverwork.

Match book cover representing nontraditional items

Match book cover representing nontraditional items

Perhaps the most significant development of this “railroad curio” phase is the misrepresentations that were purposely promoted by the curio industry. False stereotypes were propagated because of the lack of quality and artistic style of the jewelry they were coerced to make. The majority of traditional pieces created during this time period were made by Navajos who lived far away from these commercial centers. These items of jewelry reflect the Navajo’s traditional sense of harmony and order. The number of these traditional pieces made were few as there existed no market for them among the tourists. As the nation entered the depression the market for tourist curios began to dry up and silver production began to diminish. The metalworking tradition among the Navajo was about to face it’s most dire threat to it’s continuity.

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Non Native Symbols such as Cactus and Stick Figure

Silversmithing was not the only part of Navajo life to be affected by the depression. A lack of employment opportunities along with the governments forced reduction of sheep herds threatened the very nature of Navajo economic tradition and culture. During these hard times Navajo people began to pawn their jewelry more and more frequently than before. As the depression drug on many of the items of jewelry pawned were not redeemed. With an ever growing inventory of dead pawn jewelry the traders began to find a market with tourists, collectors and museums.

The condition of the Navajo economy did not improve until Congress passed the indian Reorganization Act in 1934. This legislation enabled the tribal nations to incorporate, self-govern and to hold their tribal lands as their own. Equally important was the fact that this act essentially ended the acculturation of tribal peoples. A year later in 1935 the Indian Arts and Crafts Board was established to open new markets and to improve the condition of tribal artists in general. Shortly after guilds were established to teach apprentices the traditional designs and techniques of Navajo metal working. Silversmiths also benefited from financial support from public institutions and museums which provided economic feasibility to their chosen career.

 

Pendleton Blankets – 2015

April of each year Pendleton Woolen Mills release their new blanket patterns, this year is no different. Below you will see a few of  the new patterns of Pendleton blankets that we will be carrying .

Pendleton New West by Levi’s Made and Crafted

This blanket is a collaboration between Levi and Pendleton Woolen Mills. The pattern reflects the tension between the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and the modern cities located there.

Pendleton Levi Blanket

Pendleton Levi Blanket

Pendleton Full Moon Lodge Blanket

The Pendleton Full Moon Lodge blanket highlights the relationship between Mother Nature, mankind and the creator of the universe whose medicine is love. Based on a painting by Starr Hardridge, the design acknowledges our place between the sun and the full moon. Starr is a Muscogee Creek artist.

Pendleton Full Moon Lodge Blanket

Pendleton Full Moon Lodge Blanket

Pendleton American Treasures Blanket

The Pendleton American Treasures blanket celebrates the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the National Parks Service. The blanket’s design celebrates the majestic and historic places as well as the individuals who have been protecting them for the past century. The American Treasures blanket’s designs reflect the forests, rivers and mountains under the supervision of the dedicated men and women who are the keepers of our natural treasures. Classic geometric patterns remind us of the Native American people who were the first keepers of our land. Napped This blanket is a staff favorite!

2015 Pendleton Blankets - American Treasures Blanket

Pendleton American Treasures Blanket

Pendleton Skywalkers Blanket

The Pendleton Skywalkers blanket was inspired by Art Deco design elements of some of New York City’s iconic skyscrapers. The Chrysler building and the Empire State building are examples of this Art Deco architecture. The Pendleton Skywalker blanket is a salute to the skilled Native American steel workers who built some of the cities most beautiful and famous landmarks including George Washington Bridge and recently the new One World Trade center. Starting in the 1920s during young men from the Mohawk and other you’re a Iroquois tribes raised and riveted steel at dizzying heights above the city. More than six generations of these native steelworkers have become renowned for their courage and agility in helping to raise the New York City skyline. Unnapped

Pendleton Skywalkers Blanket

Pendleton Skywalkers Blanket

The Ribbon Dance is the first ritual that opens up the most sacred Seminole ceremony, the Green Corn Festival. The tribeswomen wear traditional patchwork skirts and tunics and swirl ribbons around the sacred fire to renew the flame for the coming year. This blanket captures the energy and vibrancy of the Ribbon Dance and serves as an homage to traditional patchwork design. This blanket is a collaboration between  and the American Indian College Fund and Pendleton Woolen Mills.

Pendleton AICF Ribbon Dance Blanket

Pendleton AICF Ribbon Dance Blanket

The History of Hopi Jewelry

It is generally believed the establishment of the art of silversmithing in the Hopi tribe began with a trader named Sikyatala. The Zuni and Hopi Pueblos had long before established a trade route whose trail covered a 100 miles. Lanyade a Zuni trader and silversmith was thought to have thought Sikyatala how to make silver in the late 1800’s. Given that the two Pueblos had regular trade relations it would not have seemed strange that the art of smithing would have been shared, especially with Sikyatala who was a member of the Mustard Clan which has Zuni associations.

Sikyatala would go on to teach many Hopi men who then would share their knowledge with others. The style of jewelry created by the Hopi smiths would resemble that being made by the Zuni and Navajo peoples. The production of this style of jewelry would continue until the late 1930’s when a new actor would emerge and initiate a new style of Hopi jewelry.

In 1926 Dr Harold Colton and his wife Mary-Russel Colton moved to Flagstaff, Az from Pennsylvania. Dr Colton was a professor of zoology and Mary was a recognized artist having studied and the Philadelphia School of Design for Women.

In 1930 the Coltons established the Hopi Craftsman Exhibit at the Museum of Northern Arizona. This exhibit was created to showcase Hopi artistry and to promote excellence in their work. Early exhibits mainly featured basketry, weaving and pottery.

In 1938, according to letters written by Mrs. Colton, they turned their attention to Hopi jewelry. In letters to the Indian Arts and Crafts Board she suggested that Hopi jewelry must be absolutely unique and in doing so a unique market could be created just for Hopi jewelry.

With this in mind Mrs. Colton had Virgil Hubert of the MNA research historic pottery and basket designs which could be incorporated in to this new style of Hopi jewelry. The designs required the use of many different smithing techniques including appliqué, cutout, filing and stamping.

Mrs. Colton then sent a letter to 18 Hopi silversmiths inviting them to make jewelry utilizing the new techniques and designs on behalf of the museum. While the new style and designs created some trouble with the smiths, the Hopi Craftsman Exhibit of 1939 did contain jewelry of the new Hopi style.

More of the new style jewelry was created between 1939 and 1941 but the advent of World War II delayed the proliferation of the new Hopi style jewelry.

After the end of World War II Fred Kabotie a Hopi silversmith and art teacher arranged an exhibit of Hop Crafts at Shungopavi. This exhibit was attended by Willard Beatty, Director of Indian Education, who knew of the previous encouragement by the MNA. The following day Beatty met with Kabotie and Paul Saufkie and arranged for the G I training programs to sponsor an 18 month silversmithing course for Hopi veterans. The program would pay for the cost of tools, training and living expenses for the veteran and his family.

Classes began in February of 1947 with Paul Saufkie being hired as the technical instructor and Fred Kabotie was the design instructor. The designs suggested by the MNA were used by the trainers but there was also a slew of new designs taken for the large variety available in Hopi culture.

The techniques used to create the jewelry were varied but one particular method was developed that is now thought of as typical “Hopi” in style. Some of the designs suggested by the MNA were created by appliqué which is when a design is cut out and applied to a base of silver. The piece left over could also be used by overlaying it on another base which resulted in Hopi “overlay” jewelry.

Navajo Jewelry History- Phase One

Scholars have defined the distinct eras of Navajo Jewelry production by the techniques used and the style of jewelry created by the Navajo silversmiths. First Phase Navajo jewelry has been defined as that which was produced between 1850 and 1910.

This is a group of First Phase Navajo Conchas collected by the Smithsonian Museum. Please notice the enclosed domed concha at the upper left. This is a very rare specimen for this period.

This is a group of First Phase Navajo Conchas collected by the Smithsonian Museum. Please notice the enclosed domed concha at the upper left. This is a very rare specimen for this period.

During this period of time the Navajo smiths were trading with the Plains tribes, the Mexicans to the south and acquiring turquoise from the Pueblos of New Mexico. The Navajo’s would trade fruit, textiles and animals for iron, copper, silver and brass. This trade also exposed the silversmiths to the metal forms and designs that they would incorporate into their metal jewelry. The naja, concha, pomegranate (squash blossom), cross, canteen and bridle decorations were not invented by the Navajo, rather they observed these forms and designs while trading with the Plains and Mexican people.

First Phase Najas

A couple of relatively plain Navajo najas from the Smithsonian Collection.

Tools for working the silver were either acquired through trade or constructed by the silversmith himself. The silversmith’s ingenuity drove them to create forges from sticks and mud, crucibles from clay, and even a bellows could be created with animal skin and wood. Chisels and stamps were created out of railroad spikes or nails and an anvil might have been created from scap iron. All of these tools would allow them to master the basic techniques of embellishing their jewelry. The Navajo silversmiths also developed the tufa-casting technique during this phase. Tufa-casting enabled them to produce a much wider range of designs and shapes then was possible before.

Modern Tufa Cast Buckle

Modern Tufa Cast Buckle by Harrison Bitsui

During this first period of Navajo jewelry the smiths established their distinctive design aesthetic. Making up this aesthetic were the use of turquoise and coral, the incorporation of four decorative elements representing the cardinal directions or using double or paired elements which related to the relationship of the earth and sky. Designs also incorporated the use of six elements which such as a row of six turquoise stones which refer to the six inner forms of the sacred mountains  Jewelry created in this period is the most collectable for their simple and yet powerful design aesthetics.

New techniques and tools became available to the Navajo silversmiths early in the 1900’s and were responsible for ushering in the beginning of the Second Period of Navajo silver jewelry.

 

Native American Jewelry – Definitions

Here are a some of the most common terms that you will run into when shopping for or reading about Native American Jewelry.

Annealing: Tempering or softening metal by heating it and then rapidly cooling it. In American Indian jewelry they would use this process to soften coins enough so that they could be formed into the desired form.

Applique: A decorative item which has been soldered to the final piece of Native American jewelry.

Turquoise Bracelet

This bracelet features bossing, applique and bent wire techniques

Bent Wire: Thin silver wire which has been bent to form circles or half circles and then appliquéd or soldered to an element of jewelry.

Bezel: Thin wall of silver which surrounds a stone and anchors it in place.

Boss: A raised ornament which is either solid or possibly repoussed.

Boulder or Ribbon Turquoise: Boulder Turquoise is when turquoise is cut to include the host rock or vein rock within which it occurs naturally. The trick to this presentation is to cut in such a manner as to include just the right amount of turquoise along with the host rock. Much of Boulder turquoise comes from the Royston and Pilot Mountain mines in Northern Nevada but it can actually be found at most turquoise mines where the turquoise occurs in veins.

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Necklace featuring Boulder Turquoise.

Butterfly: In Navajo jewelry in particular this design consists of a center element flanked by two wing shaped elements. This shape is often used on Concho or Concha belts in between the large oval or circle pieces. The reference to butterflies was started by early traders and does not have carry this meaning traditionally among the Navajos.

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Picture of a typical Native American butterfly design.

Cabochon: Usually standard size cut stones which have a flat bottom and smooth rounded top. Cabochons can be cut and polished into many different shapes and are not faceted normally. Below you will see cabochons cut into non-standard sizes.

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Free form turquoise cabochons, please note the lower right stone is overturned to reveal the backing.

Casting: Process by which molten silver is poured into a mold to create the shape desired. Tufa, a light porous stone was one of the first methods used to create jewelry and is referred to as Tufa Casting. Sandstone was oiled and also used which is called Sand Casting and now centrifuge casting machines can be used which is called spin casting. There is a limit to the number of times that a sand or tufa cast can yield.

Chalcedony: Quartz that is either bluish or greenish gray and is sometimes polished and used in Southwestern Indian jewelry.

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Channelwork or channel inlay: The setting of turquoise or another stone separated by thin strips of silver. This method requires precisely cut stones and very detailed oriented silversmithing.

Zuni Turquoise Channel Inlay bracelet

Zuni Turquoise Channel Inlay bracelet

Chasing: The use of a hammer and a chisel to decorate a silver surface.

Chased-Silver

This bracelet illustrates the chasing technique of adorning silver. The diagonal lines you see on each side of the bracelet were chased. The half moon shapes in between were stamped impressions.

Concha: Describes a round or oval shape of with a central design element with radiating designs extending to the edge. The concha shape is used primarily as a method to decorate
belts but can also be used in bolos, rings and bracelets.

Typical Navajo stamped concho with single turquoise setting

Typical Navajo stamped concho with single turquoise setting

 

Dapping: Creating a shape with silver by forcing it into the bottom of a mold usually with a punch and hammer. Dapping blocks are made in both wood and metal and help to shape sheet metal into a form such as a dome.

This is an example of a metal dapping set, wood is also used.

This is an example of a metal dapping set, wood is also used.

Heischi: Describes any shell or stone which has been fashioned into disc or tube shaped beads. These beads may graduate in dimension or all be the  size. These heisci beads are generally strung on a cord or wire and worn as a necklace. The Santa Domingo and San Felipe peoples were the first to master this technique in the southwest.

Turquoise Heishci Bracelet

Turquoise Heishci Bracelet

Hopi Silvercraft Guild: The guild is a cooperative established in 1949 which exists to promote and market Hopi art as well as provide support to emerging Hopi artists. Unfortunately through a series of bad investments the guild is not as vibrant as it once was.

Hubbell glass beads: These were imported glass beads from Italy, Bohemia and finally Czechoslovakia that were sold at trading posts in the Southwest. The color of the beads were turquoise and were meant to be a substitute for real thing. While they are called Hubbell beads there exists no information that would confirm that Hubbell ever actually imported these items. Today almost any glass bead that mimics turquoise is called a Hubbell bead. The bracelet below contains to light blue Hubbell beads.

Native American Jewelry - Hubbell Glass

Two triangular shaped Hubbell Glass beads are used in this early Navajo bracelet

 

Jacla: Originally made and worn by the Pueblo peoples it also became popular amongst the Navajo people through trade. Jacla is actually a Navajo word meaning ear wire. The Jacla are usually a 4”-6” loop consisting of turquoise heische with colored shells highlighting the center of the drop. The jacla were usually worn on or tied to the ear lobe but can also be found on the ends of turquoise necklaces.

Turquoise beads with jacla. Native American Jewelry

Turquoise beads with jacla.

Tufa Casting: The method of  pouring melted metal into a form or mold created out of tufa stone. Tufa stone is a soft rock formed out of volcanic ash. This technique is one of the earliest methods used by Navajo silversmiths and continues to be used today.

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Side view of a tufa-cast bracelet. Note the small imperfections you can still see on the back side of the bracelet. These imperfections mimic the surface of the original tufa mold.