I am looking at a postcard I bought probably 35 yrs. ago, while
passing through northern Az. This postcard has been tacked to the
wall of every studio I’ve worked in since I bought the post card.
It shows a Navajo silversmith in his studio in 1901. He is sitting
on a dirt floor with a rough mud-chinked log wall in the background.
He’s shirtless, sitting cross legged on the floor in front of a short
section of wood stump on which is mounted a small worn beak-horn
anvil. In one hand, he appears to have a narrow silver bracelet with
lots of detail stamped onto it, and in the other hand, a claw hammer.
You can see a piece of tufa stone leaned up against the wall with 3
simple impressions carved into it, and another small sledge hammer on
the dirt floor. What looks like an open cigar box sits near his knee
with a roll of what looks like leather resting on the wooden box.
That’s it. That’s all that appears in his studio, other than a shirt
and a pair of pants hanging on the back wall.
It’s the look on the weathered and sun baked face of this
silversmith which grabs your attention, though. It is a look of
complete concentration and peacefulness. He’s relaxed, just working
on his creation, in the midst of what most of us, without the man
sitting there working, would not remotely recognize as a workshop at
Would you like to guess what a piece of this artist’s work might be
worth in today’s market??
I remain astounded that from such primitive workshops and tools came
such beautiful silverwork, much sought after by collectors today.
This man, whose name I don’t know, has inspired me through all these