What is a Shadowbox?

Recently a customer ordered a shadowbox item from our store and when she received it, she was shocked saying “but it is hollow, it is not solid !!” We used the term shadowbox in the description and showed all kinds of views revealing the construction but perhaps if  a person has never seen a shadowbox, he or she might not know what they are looking at and what to expect.

Shadowbox Belt Buckle - Wilbur Musket, Navajo

Shadowbox Belt Buckle – Wilbur Musket, Navajo

A common jewelry technique used by Navajo and other Native American silversmiths to add interest and layering to a piece is a shadowbox.

The shadowbox technique consists of a cutout top layer that is usually domed and that is soldered to a solid bottom layer.

Vintage Shadowbox Ring

Vintage Shadowbox Ring

The cutout design on the top can vary from paw prints to kokopelli to blanket designs – limited only by the designer’s imagination.

Shadowbox Bolo Tie with Paw Prints

Shadowbox Bolo Tie with Paw Print Cutouts

The bottom layer might be left bright silver or oxidized to give a dark contrast to the cutout design.

Shadowbox Bracelet by Pauline Benally, Navajo

Shadowbox Bracelet by Pauline Benally, Navajo —-the underlayer has a darkened (oxidized) background for a contrasting accent.

Stones are often set into the shadowbox – some artists let the stones protrude somewhat out of the top of the shadowbox and others use stones that when set are flush with the cutout layer.

Shadowbox ring showing one flush (turquoise) and one protruding (coral) piece

Shadowbox ring showing one flush (turquoise) and one protruding (coral) piece

Paula

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

What can you tell me about the artist and significance of the two twist bracelets I just purchased?

Hello Paula

Just received my 2 twist bracelets in the mail and they are amazing. They far exceeded my expectations and I am one happy customer. Is there anything you can tell me about the artist and area the bracelet is made? Also is there any special significance to the design of the bracelet. I am giving one to my wife for our anniversary and would like to dazzle her with some information about. Thanks again and please pass on my thanks to all involved.

Regards

Matt

half inch heavy classic twist bracelet

Hi Matt,
The two bracelets you purchased were made by the Tahe family, a Navajo family noted for years for their sterling silver bracelets and notably the twists. We’ve purchased twist bracelets made by husband and wife teams Verna and Franklin Tahe and by Benny and Elaine Tahe. They live in New Mexico.
As far as significance to the design, they have been a traditional bracelet for many years and as far as we know, just an entwining of two different sterling silver pieces into one, so a nice choice for an anniversary.
They also have had a resurgence in popularity as Robert Redford wore one in the movie “The Horse Whisperer”.
Paula

Happy Cyber Monday from Native American Jewerly Tips

Good morning and Happy Cyber Shopping today and every day at Horsekeeping, the webstore of Native American Jewelry Tips.

Today’s special is the same as every day:

Excellent customer service

Authentic Native American made jewelry and artifacts

Unique items – 95% of our items are one of a kind – ONE ONLY – items

The best internet source for Navajo Pearls

Medicine Bag Central

An ever changing Pawn Shop

 

Fabulous Turquoise and Stone Bracelets

New items listed daily – see our New Page

Entry level items from $10 to Collector’s Pieces up to $3000

Stocking stuffers to Special Gifts.

Let me know if I can help !

Share

Native American Jewelry Shopping Advice Please

Dear Paula,

I just read your article on Navajo Pearls while viewing your website.  I would like to have some guidance in purchasing a pair from you. I know that I would like the seed beads by Lily Yazzie after viewing the web site, but as to length I’m not sure.  I already own a plain pair of 15 1/4 inch that I wear with a beautiful 2 inch x 1 1/4 in turq. pendant.  I also recently purchased a 17 inch sleeping beauty chunky nugget necklace (pendant won’t fit on this 😦 ).  I would like the pearls to be a little longer so that I can wear all 3 necklaces together and have the option of wearing the pendant on the “new” ones as well.  The pendant opening allows for my 15 inch 8mm pearls to slide through easily.  Soooo I’m thinking maybe an 8 or 9mm (I think the 9mm will be ok with pendant opening) set of pearls in the stamped seed beads.  My question for you is what length so that I can wear them and mix and match them with what I already own? I am 5’2” and petite.  Choker length has always been a good length for me. But I am open to any suggestions from you. Please advise.  Many thanks!  Mary Ann

PS I have a small wrist.  What size is the sandcast bracelet in the photo featuring new items.  I love the bracelet and am looking for one preferably in silver only.  More thanks!

Note from Paula: Reference Photos below of items mentioned in above email question.

Lily Yazzie Sterling Silver Stamped Seed Beads

Sandcast Turquoise Bracelet by Harrison Bitsui

Hi MaryAnn,

Thanks for the visit !

That sounds like a lovely plan, the layering.
If you want this new set to hang just below the turquoise, then it looks
like it should be an 18″ long set and if you want seed bead style in stamped
beads, the ones that are most like seed beads are the ones I showed in the photo above.

The ones in that length that are a little rounder, more like “pearls” are these:

Rounder Stamped Sterling Silver Navajo Pearls

So either one would hang just below your turquoise necklace.

As far as a small sand-cast bracelet, plain sterling silver, no stone, you could
consider these

Once you’ve had a chance to take a peek at these items, please let me know

if I can answer any questions.

Until then, happy holiday shopping !

Share

Wanted – Carson Blackgoat Horse Cuff Bracelet

Paula, please I need a Horse Cuff bracelet made by Carson, I already have the wolves one, so I need the horse now to match it, but I need it to be specifically made on the same exactly shape as the photo I am about to attach with this email. cs I bought one from someone else and it wasn’t exactly the way it showed in the photo.
Do you send it to Australia?? Can I pay via paypal?? Can he make it for me??? I do not mind how long it will take?? How much it will cost??
So Paula i want the 4 horses to be put on this same shape bracelet on the attach, cs this one 1 here is more rounded design and I like it better, and also the engravings to be exactly the same.
Thanks and I hope you can help me.
Leandro
Hi Leandro,
The bracelet you have was probably stamped “CARSON B.” which is the hallmark for Navajo artist Carson Blackgoat.
Although we have never carried that bracelet by Carson Blackgoat, I have seen them. The wolf group is a cast piece which is attached to the front of the wide cuff bracelet. The stamping on the edges of the bracelet differs between the bracelets but the wolf group is always exactly the same since it is a cast element.
Now as far as the horse group, there is a cast piece that Navajo artists use of four horses galloping. Below are some examples of that horse herd as used by two different artists. Is this the group of four horses you were thinking of?
Running Horse piece on belt buckle
Running Horse piece on wire bracelet
So since you say you want the horse bracelet to be exactly like the wolf one you have and since these groups of animals are quite different, I wanted to make sure you have seen the horse group to see if that is what you are looking for.
When you say you want it made on the same exact shape as the wolf bracelet, are you referring to the scalloped edges of the cuff? And you want the same exact stamping on the scallops?
Since Navajo jewelry is hand-made, no two pieces are exactly alike so the stamping is different on every Carson bracelet I’ve seen. But the central portion with the cast piece (animal group) is always exactly the same.
Finally, bracelet fit is very important for a wide cuff like this. Since you already have one that fits, measure those dimensions in inches and have that on hand as you shop. I’d suggest using a soft cloth tape measure and measure the inside circumference from end to end and the length of the gap. Have these two measurements as separate figures and also added together as total circumference as some sellers list them that way. Also measure the width.
We don’t take custom orders. Here’s why. We make several buying trips each year and we choose items we feel would be good for our web store. The Native American artists seem to prefer to deal in person, not through the mail or by phone. They purchase their materials (silver, stone), then make their beautiful creations, then take them to a market somewhere to sell. They hope for a quick turnaround for their investment so they are not really set up to take a single order for a specific item and then ship it through the mail.
So your best bet is to keep an eye on our NEW page and maybe on one of our next shopping trips, I’ll see a bracelet like you want.
Best of luck on  your search !

Share

Native American Jewelry – Putting on a Cuff Bracelet

Hi Paula,
I have a question about the bracelets…
When putting a cuff bracelet on and off it has to be big enough to fit over your hand or the gap wide enough to fit on the narrowest/smallest part of your wrist.   That being said, how could a person wear a cuff bracelet above the wrist bone when it will naturally fall towards the hand when your arm is down and flop around when you move …  unless, you squeeze it tight (bend it) once on, and bend it open again to take it off.. ?  Is a cuff bracelet suppose to fit like a bangle bracelet and be loose (fall to the hand) or is it suppose to stay still (fitted) when you wear it?
I have a couple bracelets (western style) that I received as gifts.  I’ve been bending them to get them on and off so they don’t flop around so much but never bend them to a point where the gap is closed and it is fitted (stays between my hand and wrist bone)….  My wrist is 6 1/4″, bracelets are 6 3/4″ including gap.
Appreciate your reply.
Kindest regards,
Carolyn
Good questions Carolyn,
I’ll answer your queries specifically, but in the meantime, please read these two articles……..
After you’ve read them, let me know if some of your questions have been answered and if not, what the new ones are !
Paula

Hi again Carolyn,
First of all, a cuff bracelet is never put over the hand. If it would fit over the hand, it would be too big. Cuff bracelets are put on by utilizing the gap as described in the above referenced article.

How one wears a bracelet is entirely a matter of personal preference and taste. When I wear a group of bangle bracelets, I want them to be very loose and move up and down my wrist and lower arm as I move my arm and hands. Bangles are for days when metal clinking is not only good, but desired !
 

Sterling Silver Navajo Silverdust Bangle Bracelets


I also like to wear my link bracelets and link watches loose, that is so that they slide up and down my wrist.
 

Sterling Silver and 12K Gold Navajo Link Bracelet by Alonzo Mariano


As far as cuff bracelets, if they are narrow bracelets, I prefer to wear them low on my wrist – below the prominent wrist bone. If they are wider, then I like them over the top of the prominent wrist bone.
 

Example of Narrow Cuff - Sterling Silver and 14K Gold Continuous Water Bracelet by Bruce Morgan

Example of a Wide Cuff - Sterling Silver Sandcast and Kingman Turquoise Bracelet by Harrison Bitsui


There is a “sweet spot” in terms of bracelet size, gap and the person’s wrist size as to where a bracelet will “work”. If a bracelet is the right size, you can wear a cuff above your wrist and it will stay there. If it is too big, then, as you say, it will slip down.

From the dimensions you mention in your e-mail, it would seem almost impossible to keep that bracelet up above your wrist UNLESS you open it up to put it on, then squeeze the gap closed (eek!) once you get it on your wrist. Squeezing not only makes the bracelet misshapen but it can pop out inlay stones or loosen other stone settings. The bracelet below is made up of many small pieces of turquoise with sterling silver channel in between. If the bracelet below was spread open, then squeezed shut, the stone at the point of the bend would be lifted right out of their settings and popped out.

Zuni Turquoise Inlay Bracelet by Sheldon Lalio

So 6 3/4″ is too big for a 6 1/4″ wrist. You should be looking for a bracelet that is about 6 1/4″ total inside circumference which would be about 5 1/4″ from end to end inside and with a 1″ gap. That way you can put the bracelet on and off easily without opening and closing the gap.
Let me know if I can help further.

Share

Jewelry Repair – Native American Cast Bracelet

Hi Paula,

I have a split band Sterling Silver Tufacast cuff with one turquoise stone set in a bezel that is soldered to all 4 bands.  There is a fine crack almost all the way through one of the bands due to opening and closing the bracelet (which I no longer do). Should I have it repaired or leave as is?  Will the stone need to be removed?  What if I just melt silver solder over the crack as a patch to camouflage it?

Thank you, Lenora

First some definitions so all readers are on the same page here.

A split band bracelet can have 2 bands or as many as, well 20 or more. Lenora’s bracelet is a cast bracelet with 4 bands.There are also split band bracelets that are not cast.

Split band bracelets might also be referred to as a 4 Wire bracelet or sometimes a Spread Wire bracelet and yet that would not be correct as there are differences.

A split band is a bracelet made of one strip of sterling silver whose mid section has been sliced lengthwise into the desired number of bands so that the bands are open in the center (such as the plain sterling silver cast bracelet below) or can reach out and attach to the centerpiece, usually a nice turquoise stone.

Sterling Silver Split Band Bracelet

Sterling Silver Split Band Bracelet

3-Wire Navajo Bracelet with Emerald Valley Turquoise Stone

3-Wire Navajo Bracelet with Emerald Valley Turquoise Stone

8-Wire Zuni Bracelet

8-Wire Zuni Bracelet

A wire bracelet is similar in end result but is made by joining the desired number of sterling silver wires together at their ends to form the end pieces of the cuff bracelet.

3-Wire Navajo Inlay Bear Bracelet

3-Wire Navajo Inlay Bear Bracelet

Tufa Cast and Sand Cast are basically the same procedure and you can read about the Sand Cast process in a previous post.

Lenora doesn’t say where the crack is exactly but most likely it is where one of the bands is attached to the back of the stone setting.

When a repair is made to sterling silver, heat is involved. Usually the stone would have to be removed or your risk at the least, the stone losing its adhesion to its setting and at the worst, the stone cracking or otherwise being damaged.

I would not advise camouflaging the crack with silver solder unless you are an experienced silversmith but then if you were, you wouldn’t be asking me !

But you bring up an excellent point – many Native American bracelets are damaged when people repeatedly open and close the bracelets to put them on and take them off. This can not only loosen the stones, especially with inlays, but it can also crack the silver.

Read more about selection and care of sterling silver bracelets.

Choosing a Cuff Bracelet

Cuff Bracelet Fit Tips Including Putting a Bracelet On Properly

Share