I have always been a great admirer of the art of the Native People of the American Southwest. I love the power of their designs, the natural colors they employ, and the textures that thrill to the touch. In 1984 I was shopping in the Trumbull Mall (CT) when a belt buckle in a shop window caught my eye. It is that beauty that I share with you here. It was made by the Zuni artists Jose Massie and was the first "Indian" buckle added to the collection of belt buckles I had started years earlier. This style of jewelry is known as channel inlay because the pieces of onyx, turquoise, coral, and shell are framed by silver.
In August of 1986 my wife and I traveled to Sante Fe for Indian Market. The sight of 1200 native artists selling their wares in the streets and squares of this charming old city was totally intoxicating. I was especially drawn to the exquisite pottery and, in one long, hot afternoon, acquired a small by significant collection that was shipped back to Connecticut. Along the way I also encountered some vendors of belt buckles and bought the pieces you see here. Over the years my interest in this art form has increased and so I shall share with you some of the treasures I have accumulated as time goes by. Here is a Corn Dancer by Fred & Lolita Natachu (Zuni).
Here is a geometric design by Leander & Lisa Othole (Zuni) that has been a favorite for a long time. This kind of detail work takes a great deal of patience -- something I didn't have for much of my adulthood.
Michael Kirk, from the Isleta Pueblo, creates very unique feather-like textures to complement the inlaid sugalite and turquoise stones.
As we dragged our exhausted bodies back to our hotel room at the end of Market I spied a special buckle in the window of a pawn shop, the repository of much Indian treasure due to their need to get cash when jobs are scarce. This treasure is by Tommy Singer who is now a very well known Navajo jeweler. Sadly, I picked this one up for a song.
Like millions of other people I have found that eBay is a wonderful place for the knowledgeable and lucky collector to acquire treasures while others are asleep at the wheel. Here is a treasure I picked up for a song. It is by Billy Rae Hawee, a Hopi silversmith who died in 1980.
This amazing piece is the only one I know of that has stones set around the edge. The workmanship is so terrific I could never afford to buy it from a retail store. It is by James Mason, not the actor.
This anonymous piece has some of the most beautiful cobblestone work I have ever seen.
There is a funny story connected with this wonderful ironwood piece. I only paid $55 for it on eBay and I told the seller that I was embarrassed because the price was so low. She told me not to feel bad because she bought it at a tag sale for $5.
My most recent acquisition is by Herbert & Veronica Thompson. Their energy and genius graces my bedroom wall along with all my other treasures. Each morning when I shave I gaze upon these beauties and fill me eyes with the product of golden hands. This piece features turquoise and spiny oyster shell in different colors.