The Eagle Has Landed – Inlay Repair by My Favorite Silversmith

Carlene Leekity Inlay Eagle Necklace – do you see the missing inlay?

When this Carlene Leekity eagle inlay necklace came into the store in an estate lot, I didn’t even notice there was a piece of inlay missing because the backing material was black just like the shell inlay.

Henry and Diane to the rescue !

I’ve been working with Diane Radeke and Henry Yazzie for at least 6 years. Their team has done repairs on many vintage items that have arrived as part of estate lots but needed TLC before we could offer them in our Vintage Shop. Diane is the point person but I think of her more as a shepherdess who guides the project masterfully from start to finish. She determines what needs to be done, what the customer wants, and then confers with her partner, Henry Yazzie, to determine what supplies are needed and what the cost will be. Henry creates wonderful custom jewelry and also does careful, creative, excellent repairs. You can read about other projects we have worked on over the years by simply searching “Repairs” in the search box on this blog. Contact information for Diane and Henry is at the end of this article and at My Favorite Silversmith.

Henry graciously supplied us with some photos and explained the steps he follows to repair missing inlaid shell or stone pieces in jewelry:

He first examines the missing stone area.  There may be material in the opening that raised the stone or shell to the correct height.  This material may be clear epoxy, which turns brown or yellow over time, Dev-con, which is generally gray, or JB Weld, which is often black.  The base material can stay in place if it is still tight and in good shape. Otherwise it will need to be removed and replaced.

Henry then selects a stone or shell that will be the correct height and size for the opening.  The pen shell for this repair (see photos below) was procured for me by a good friend D. Robert Smith who is an excellent lapidarist at his Dancing Raven Stoneworks LLC.

Pen shell for inlay repair

Some shells and stones cannot be ground down from the face side, so careful sizing is important. Henry cuts a piece of replacement material that is a bit larger than the opening.

Henry then moves to the grinder, which is typical lapidary equipment that uses a water drip feed to keep the stone cool and reduce dust,. There he shapes the first edge of the replacement piece.

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He then checks the fit to the missing inlay opening. Working back and forth, he continues to grind bit by bit until the replacement piece is a perfect fit for the opening (see the slide show below).

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Jewelers glue is used to secure the new shell piece in place.

With Zuni inlay, there is no bezel adjustment as found in traditional Navajo jewelry.  The piece must fit perfectly. If it does, it will maintain its fit for many years.

Henry reminds us ! “As with any bezel set jewelry, it is important to not let inlaid jewelry stay wet for any length of time – this could allow backing materials to swell and/or pop the inlay.  And it is particularly important to not bend the jewelry, as that would change the size of the opening and cause stone loss.”

and I add “That’s why we always caution our customers to not try and resize an inlay bracelet! If you do, when bending, the stones could go pop, pop, pop !”

For this eagle necklace, Henry also matched the feather etching on the wings using a Dremel tool.  A final polish removes any rough spots or bits of glue.

What a wonderful repair job !

Repair completed and necklace ready to enjoy for many years to come !

To contact Diane and Henry at My Favorite Silversmith for your repairs:

Diane Radeke
602-354-5028
P. O. Box 55935
Phoenix, AZ  85078
                                                                   Thank you Diane and Henry !
                                                                                                                         Paula

Book Look: Who’s Who in Zuni Jewelry by Gordon Levy

This 1980 hard bound book is full color, 64 pages and 11 3/4″ x 8 3/4″

My copy of this book had no author on the binding, no title page, no copyright page, nothing to indicate who wrote this book and when it was published. But with a little digging, I found it was written by Gordon Levy and published in 1980 by Western Arts Publishing Co.

It doesn’t have an ISBN but it does have an ASIN –  B001LQQM8Q

There are ample quantities available new and used if you search by the title.

Now to the book itself. Here is the the copyright page that was not in my book but I found on line.

Copyright page from “Who’s Who in Zuni Jewelry”

On the copyright page (above) and in the Introduction (below), there is mention of future volumes but I am only aware of this one volume. If anyone knows of subsequent volumes, please leave a comment at the end of the article.

Introduction from “Who’s Who in Zuni Jewelry”

The front matter contains:

ZUNI JEWELRY THE ART AND THE ARTISAN

  • Jewelry Designs
  • Jewelry Pricing
  • The Stamping or Signing of a Piece of Jewelry
  • Availability
  • The Meaning Behind the Making of Zuni Jewelry

CULTURAL BACKGROUND

  • Sociocultural
  • Political System
  • Economic Base
  • The Art and Craft of Silversmithing
  • Tribal Heritage and Goals

GLOSSARY

TURQUOISE FACTS

  • Natural Turquoise and How to Care for It
  • Stabilized Turquoise
  • Reconstitute Turquoise

Following the front matter are full color pages about the artists. Here are the artists that are covered in this book.

Following are some sample pages

Sample interior pages

Sample interior page

Paula

Necklace Extenders

What a difference a necklace extender makes.  Each necklace has its own perfect resting spot and for each person and shirt and/or neckline, the perfect spot will be different.

First I put on this necklace with the original length provided by its chain.

Inlay pendant hallmarked JM

But this results in a distracting shirt button plus the wonderful sterling silver feathers on the side were hidden under the collar.

By adding about 2″ with a necklace extender, I was able to drop the necklace into its ideal position.

Necklace with extender

Sterling Silver Necklace Extenders

Paula

 

Nancy and Ruddell Laconsello – Zuni Inlay artists

Nancy and Ruddell Laconsello are known for their beautiful Zuni inlay jewelry predominately birds.

Nancy Haloo, born in 1952, learned jewelry making from her father Jake Haloo. She began making her own style of inlay in 1972.

Nancy Haloo

Nancy Haloo Laconsello

She married Ruddell Laconsello and they began making jewelry together in 1976.

Nancy and Ruddell Laconsello

Nancy and Ruddell Laconsello

They are a successful husband and wife team who follow the tradition of Nancy’s parents, Jake Haloo and Lola Pinto Haloo, in their division of duties. Ruddell does the stone cutting, grinding, carving and polishing while Nancy does the inlay work.

Nancy and Ruddell Laconsello

Nancy and Ruddell Laconsello

Nancy and Ruddell’s work is characterized by birds in natural settings, such as on trees or with flowers or leaves.

Blue Jay pendant necklace by Ruddell and Nancy Laconsello

Blue Jay pendant necklace by Ruddell and Nancy Laconsello

bolo

birds

They also are known for the engraving they add to their mosaics which gives rich texture and detail to the image.

Engraved detail on vintage Laconsello eagle ring

Engraved detail on vintage Laconsello eagle ring

Nancy’s family is full of noted jewelers including Dolly Banteah, Rolanda Haloo, Lolita Natachu, Jake Livingston and others.

Ruddell and Nancy use variations of their hallmark RNL ZUNI on their pieces.

RNL ZUNI hallmark of Ruddell and Nancy Laconsello

RNL ZUNI hallmark of Ruddell and Nancy Laconsello

Vintage Laconsello ring

Vintage Laconsello ring

Paula

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Inlay Tadpole Bracelets by Larry Castillo

In two separate estate lots, we received two unique Larry Castillo bracelets.

Larry Castillo Inlay Bracelet

Larry Castillo Inlay Bracelet

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Larry Castillo Bracelet

Both of them are made in what I have heard is a “Tadpole” design. That refers to the shape of the bracelet.

Tadpole Design

Tadpole Design

Tadpole

A tadpole is the tailed aquatic larva of an amphibian (frog, toad, newt, or salamander) in the stage where the legs haven’t developed yet.

A wonderful feature of the tadpole design is that the curve fits around the prominent wrist bone so is very comfortable to wear.

Tadpole bracelet fit

Tadpole bracelet fit

 

Larry Castillo is one of the top contemporary Navajo inlay artists – his designs are a combination of traditional and abstract elements. Other than that, I do not know much about him. If anyone has any other biographical information on Larry Castillo, I would appreciate knowing it.

Hallmark of Larry Castillo

Hallmark of Larry Castillo

Paula

tadpole 2

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Zuni artist Charlotte Dishta makes beautiful blanket pattern inlay

Charlotte Dishta has been making jewelry since the 1980s and is known for her mosaic rug pattern inlays.

Here is a beautiful example of a rug pattern on a vintage NOS (New Old Stock) belt buckle.

She uses the traditional four color materials of Acoma Jet, Turquoise, Mother of Pearl and Coral.

BU126-BG-inlay-dishta-1 BU126-BG-inlay-dishta-5Paula

Can I wear this inlay ring to do dishes and shower without worry?

Hi Paula,

Can I wear this ring to do dishes and shower with out worry
Thanks Daniel

NR448-AB-inlay-masonic-concho-A3-400w NR448-AB-inlay-masonic-concho-B3-400w

Dear Daniel,

What??????

PR708-WB-owl-kallestewa-1No, you would have to worry big time. Inlay items are made of many small pieces of stone and shell that are affixed to a backing and to each other. Getting inlay wet such as in a dishpan or shower would allow water to get under the inlay and loosen it. It is NOT a good idea.

Inlay, properly cared for, will last decades as shown by the many wonderful pawn and estate lot pieces we receive. But any inlay, old or new, should be treated with respect and common sense.

Paula

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NR367-75-inlay-house-1