How Is Navajo Jewelry Made In The 21st Century?
While individuals belonging to the Navajo tribe wear jewelry as a mark of respect to their ancestors as well as to retain vestiges of their culture, people around the world are embracing such art pieces because they look so beautiful. But how are these pieces made? How do the artists manage to create such unique designs every single time? If you have been wondering about this, then this article is for you.
It is widely accepted among the Navajo tribe that Atsidi Sani (Old Smith) passed on the art of silversmithing to the subsequent generations. This is what led to the unique style of Native American art jewelry making that’s alive even now. Earlier, the tribe used melted silver coins, wax and other items that could be easily found to make adornments of different kinds. During the last decades of the 19th century, the art of soldering was picked up due to which they were able to attach different metals and use different stones as centerpieces in jewelry. The overlay technique that was previously used in pottery also found its way here.
Presently, you will find Native American art jewelry adorned with gems, beads, gold, silver, and stones. The use of turquoise is very common as well as symbolic. Representing the color of the sky, it is highly honored because of its unique properties.
Here are some of the ways through which Navajo jewelry is made now:
This is one of the most common methods used to carve designs on metal. Done with the help of metal stamps that have unique designs on them, the artists might use one or many stamping tools on a single piece of jewelry for different designs.
This method is commonly used to make bracelets such as Native American beaded cuff bracelets. It involves hammering designs on to the piece of metal from the backside. The result is a raised, beautiful set of low-relief designs on the piece of jewelry.
The wax carving technique involves carving a design on a mold of wax to render a 3D effect to the design. After this is done, the artist casts the piece of wax into metal. Because it is a labor-intensive process, you are more likely to end up with one of kind pieces.
Navajo jewelry pieces are not just accessories; they have a beautiful history behind them that one has to understand to be able to admire the craftsmanship. Every unique addition to a piece has a symbolic meaning attached to it and the process of making such jewelry is also very different. So before you get one for yourself, make sure that you understand what goes into its making!
Author’s Bio: The blogger is a Navajo artist and silversmith.
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