Zuni Artist Don Dewa

Zuni artist Don Dewa has been actively making his spectacular inlay jewelry since the 1970s.

He has used several hallmarks:
DON C DEWA
DON DEWA ZUNI NM
DON DEWA CUSTOM MADE JEWELRY ZUNI NM STERLING with a sunface (see example below)

 

When he he collaborates with his wife, Velma E. Dewa, they sign D & V DEWA

He is noted for his beautiful inlay and most notably his spinner bracelets. A spinner, in this case, is a rotating sunface that has different inlay on each side.  See the photos.

Don Dewa spinner pendant

Don Dewa spinner bracelet

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Click to see a spinner bracelet by Don Dewa

 

From American Indian Jewelry by Gregory Schaaf

Paula

What is a Ketoh, Bowguard (Bow Guard) or Wrist Guard?

 

When shooting a bow, depending on the bow but more importantly, the anatomy, musculature and skill of the archer, it is possible for the bow string to contact the inside of the arm that is holding the bow.

Examples of various archers to illustrate the above point.

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When the bow string contacts the inside of the arm, it results in “string slap”. Here are some examples of the after effects of “string slap”. The location of the injury will vary depending on the person and the bow.

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To protect the inner arm from string slap, arms guards can be used. They can be full length or partial. Partial arm guards are usually centered on the inner forearm (bow guard) or at the wrist (wrist guard).

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Native Americans were skilled with their bows but with the frequent use for hunting and protection, in all types of weather, in variety of positions and when fatigued, it is easy to see why bow guards and wrist guards were used. At first they were just wide strips of the heaviest hide leather. Later other stiff materials such as metal were added.

Navajo began making bowguards are early as 1895; some say earlier.  The Navajo bowguard is called a ketoh. It consists of a metal plate affixed to a leather wrist or arm piece.

The metal plate is either wrought or cast.

A wrought piece is one that has been made from metal either cold (no heat) or using a fire (forge) and hand tools. The term wought is most often used to describe the shaping, altering and molding of various metals using a hammer. In the case of Navajo silver work, this often includes stamping and repousse work. (Repousse is a method of forming a pattern on metal by stamping, hammering or pressing a design from the back to produce a three-dimensional bas-relief surface on the front.)

Indian Silverwork of the Southwest, Illustrated Volume One Harry P. Mera

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See the slide show below for examples of modern wrought pieces.

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A cast piece is one that has been made using a mold and molten metal. Early cast pieces were sand cast. Today they are usually tufa cast. Read more about casting in my previous post Native American Cast Jewelry.

Indian Silverwork of the Southwest, Illustrated Volume One Harry P. Mera

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See the slide show below for examples of modern cast pieces.

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Following are some more historical examples of bow guards from this book.

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Today decorated ketohs and Plains beaded wrist guards are mainly worn for ceremonial and social occasions, including dancing at pow wows. See the slide show below for examples of modern beaded Lakota wrist guards.

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There has been a recent surge in popularity of bow guards as a jewelry item including smaller ketohs for women. See the photo group below for examples of womens’ ketohs.

Following is a slide show that that show the various ways ketohs can be worn. The sky is the limit as to where you position your ketoh and how you tie it on.

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Paula

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

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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 !

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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 !

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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 !

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