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Harrison Jim

Perry Null Trading:
Lets start with the basics, are you from Gallup?
Harrison Jim
I graduated from Gallup High School in 1988 and was born and raised here.
Perry Null
Did you go to college after graduation?
Harrison
I went to the Gallup Branch and studied Criminal Justice. I wanted to be a Police Officer, but I started doing jewelry fulltime and did not complete my studies.
Perry Null
So, how did you get involved with jewelry making?
Harrison
I was always interested in jewelry. My Aunt and Grandma who raised me always had very nice traditional jewelry. They also would weave rugs in the home, so I was always around art.
Perry Null
Would you help with the rugs?
Harrison
Yes, I was young when I first helped with carding the wool and dying. Also, we had sheep and I would have to heard them. Those experiences introduced me to being creative with my hands, and also influenced the pieces I make with rug designs.
Perry Null
When did you start making your own pieces of silver?
Harrison
When I was a Freshman I had a jewelry class with John Hall. That is what started my passion for jewelry making. I would have to be dropped off for school early and Mr. Hall would be there at 6:30, so I would go into his shop. That would allow me to finish projects early and then he would show me how to do other things not taught in class. He taught me electro plating, tufa casting, cutting cabs, just about anything you can think of.
Perry Null
Was everything easy for you?
Harrison
My Grandma had a very technical approach to weaving rugs. I took that training and applied it to jewelry making, I am very technical about measuring everything out before I begin my project.
Perry Null
Besides Mr. Hall, did you have any teachers for jewelry making?
Harrison
My jewelry making allowed me to meet people that would influence my styles and techniques. When I was in school we had an art show at the local mall and Mr. Hall introduced me to McKee Platero, who I would meet again. Sold my first piece at that show, a pin for $14.
Perry Null
Now, you are finished with high school, do you start selling jewelry for a living?
Harrison
I got a job working for First American Traders as a buffer, and was also doing the criminal justice courses at the Gallup Branch.
Perry Null
You are not a Police Officer, so when did you go fulltime artist?
Harrison
It was a process. One evening I went with some buddies to Navajo silversmith’s Tommy Jackson’s workshop. He asked me what I did and then told me he always need good buffers.
Perry Null
Sounds like you did a lot of silver buffing in the beginning?
Harrison
(smiles) There is a real art to buffing and I was very good at it. I didn’t have anything else going on so I would be at Tommy’s workshop all the time buffing and he eventually gave me other stuff to do. He would have me cutout his rug designs and before I knew it I was making entire pieces for him.
Perry Null
Is that where you learned how to do inlay?
Harrison
Mr. Hall had showed me how to inlay, but working for Tommy definitely had an influence on my early inlay pieces. Tommy was getting ready for a show and had some Number Eight cabs and I asked him what he was going to make. He was running out of tie and probably would not get to them. I asked if I could make something and worked non-stop until I was finished. It was a revival style piece that he sold to Michael Martin Murphy’s mother at the Indian Market.
Perry Null
You had mentioned earlier that McKee Platero had an influence on your work, how did that happen?
Harrison
McKee came by Tommy’s workshop and bought some stamps. After that I started to hang out with him and would stay down at his place and watch him make his silver.
Perry Null
Did you talk about techniques and design?
Harrison
McKee comes from a long line of silversmiths like I do. We would talk about lots of stuff related to Navajo silver.
Perry Null
Who was the first to start making jewelry in your family?
Harrison
My Great Grandpa made jewelry who dates back to Fort Sumner. His original name was Shin, which means dark in Navajo. The whites changed that to Navajo Jim, that is where my last name comes from.
Perry Null
You are one of the most talented artists we have come in the Trading Post, but for the most part you remain an unknown, why?
Harrison
I make jewelry for a living, I am passionate about it and do it the old ways. However, I make pieces daily and never make that piece that takes a long time to make, or do shows to promote myself. Hopefully, I will begin to do more of that, get ahead and make some incredible art.
Perry Null
Is jewelry your only medium?
Harrison
I would like to expand into larger sculptor pieces, maybe some furniture.
Perry Null
You talked about the old way, what do you mean?
Harrison
I do not buy fabricated sheet, and I make my own tools.

Perry Null
Could you walk me through making a piece of your revival style silver?
Harrison
Step 1 – Gather up scrap silver. Step 2 – Melt scrap silver and pour into an ingot. Step 3 – Heat the ingot and hammer it into the shape you want. Step 4 – Once it is thin enough put it thru the silver roller to give it an equal thickness. Step 5 – Layout the silver, squaring it and centering the stone. Step 6 – Edge – creating by chasing tools, use the stamp and chisel creating the design. Step 7 – Clean it, making sure every thing is even. Step 8 – Give it a final border stamp. Step 9 – Clean again. Step 10 – Re-chase the edges. Step 11 – Flip it over and dome it out against logs I have cut. Step 12 – Sand it, get rid of the scriber lines used for measuring it. Step 13 – Polish, and this is very little if the prior cleaning process was good.
Perry Null
Thanks, whats next for you?
Harrison
Creating new things, getting better at the things I already make.

Robert and Bernice Leekya

Perry Null Trading:
How long have you been married?
Robert & Bernice:
We married February 15, 1953. It was during a Night Dance we met Zuni humor.
Perry Null Trading:
Who are your parents?
Robert & Bernice:
My father Robert was Leekya Deyuse. He was a fetish carver. My parents Bernice were Warren & Doris Ondelacy. I had one sister, Alice Quam, and two brothers, Andy & William.
Perry Null Trading:
What do you remember of your parents from when you were young?
Robert & Bernice:
I Robert can remember my father wanting to teach me how to carve stones. He tried to teach me but I told him I didn’t want to get dust all over me smiles. It was in the 1930s when I Bernice can remember putting turquoise on sticks for my parents. That was my first introduction to jewelry making.
Perrry Null Trading:
Do you make jewelry because of your parents?
Robert & Bernice:
They influenced us, we make it because of them. We do the work together, both of us will do silver and stone work. We began with cluster work and still do that on the side, but we found we liked to do big stone work better.

Perry Null Trading:
Who did you trade with when you first started making jewelry?
Robert & Bernice:
A trader by the name of John Kirk bought a lot of our pieces. He had a store on the North side of Gallup by the old Tobe Turpen Trading Post. He later moved to Albuquerque, but we still took him our work. He gave us a good price and was a real good person. He would give us Number Eight & Lone Mountain Turquoise to make cluster belts, we made hundreds of them.
Perry Null Trading:
Who else do you remember trading with?
Robert & Bernice:
We dealt with lots of traders, John Kennedy, Bill Burch, Tobe Turpen Sr. & Jr., Ernie Vanderwagen, and a few of the stores in the Zuni area.
Perry Null Trading:
Most of the Traders you mention are from Gallup. Why not more with Zuni dealers?
Robert & Bernice:
In the days when we first began Zuni did not get many tourists. After World War II it was very slow and did not pick up for a long time. Today the summers are busy in Zuni, but it is still better for us to sell in Gallup.
Perry Null Trading:
Both of your parents did lots of work for Zuni Trader C.G. Wallace. Do you have any of their work?
Robert & Bernice:
No, we do not have any of their work.
Perry Null Trading:
Zuni jewelry was first starting to be made in the Village around the 1900s, do you remember any training from when you were young?
Robert & Bernice:
Horace Iule use to teach silver making at the Day School. I Robert can remember people using silver dollars and silver rollers to make their sheets. My mom Bernice learned from her neighbors. She first started making simple one row turquoise bracelets. Both of us learned from our parents.
Perry Null Trading:
Carving has been around much longer than silver work. Who did your father Robert learn from?
Robert & Bernice:
He taught himself. My father was the first in his family to carve. He taught Teddy Weahkee and Leo Pablano to carve. When I was young I remember going with my father to get stone close to Zuni for him to work on. Also, C.G. Wallace always had stone for him to work on.
Perry Null Trading:
Both of you are full time silversmiths. Do you see the tradition growing with the younger generations?
Robert & Bernice:
No, today they are not as interested. You have more kids leave to work off the Reservation now then you use to have. Also, in 1953 the first Zuni Firefighters traveled to fight fires, today many men wait for the siren to go and fight fires for their income. Other things too, materials cost more, more assistance from the government, and it is not taught in the schools.
Perry Null Trading:
Do you remember your favorite piece?
Robert & Bernice:
A buckle made for Tobe Turpen Sr., it was an inlay piece with Morenci.

Irene Lomayaktewa

Perry Null Trading:
How long have you been making baskets?
Irene:
My mother taught me when I was very young. The first basket I completed on my own was when I was in 6th grade.
Perry Null Trading:
Do you still have the basket?
Irene:
No, I finished it in the summer time and sold it for five dollars. That would have been in the 1960s.
Perry Null Trading:
Do you remember the basket?
Irene:
Yes, it was small and had the head of a mudhead on it.
Perry Null Trading:
So you have been making baskets ever since?
Irene:
My mother told me it was something I could always do if I didn’t have another job, and at the same time help out when I was doing something else.
Perry Null Trading:
Has basket making always been your fulltime job?
Irene:
No, after graduating from high school in the early 1970s I went to the Indian School in Albuquerque for two years and became an LPN. Then I went to work and Phoenix as a nurs.
Perry Null Trading:
So how long have you been back in Hopi?
Irene:
I returned in the 1990s and have been doing basket weaving fulltime since then.

Perry Null Trading:
Do you like being back in Hopi and doing baskets?
Irene:
Yes, I work when I want and have family around me.
Perry Null Trading:
Each Mesa does something different, which Meas do you live on?
Irene:
The Second Mesa, that is where the coil baskets come from. Polacca does pottery and the 3rd Mesa makes the wicker baskets. I am married to a man from the 3rd Mesa, but can only work on my baskets here, on the 2nd Mesa.
Perry Null Trading:
What are the traditional Hopi coil baskets made from?
Irene:
We make the coil basket from straw and yucca that we pick from areas around Hopi. Many of the colors are from the yucca plant, yellow comes from yucca being harvested in winter, the white is summer, and the green can be picked aany time of the year. Also, we will use sunflower for the black and Hopi Tea (hohocy) for the red.
Perry Null Trading:
How do you decide what figures you are going to put on the basket?
Irene:
When I dream about the baskets I will draw the visions and use that to decorate the baskets.

Calvin Martinez

Perry Null Trading:
When did you first begin making jewelry?
Calvin Martinez:
I started in 1970 when I was 14 years old. My family made jewelry so that is where I got my start. In the beginning I did lots of cast work.
Perry Null Trading:
Today do you still use those same techniques?
Calvin Martinez:
Yes, it is like I make my jewelry from scratch. Instead of buying sheet silver I will buy scrap silver and melt that down and then use my roller to get the desired thickness. My jewelry is all handmade from start to finish.
Perry Null Trading:
You do most of your work in the traditional style, is their a reason for this?
Calvin Martinez:
That is the style I like. When I go to the shops in town I always look at the pawn jewelry to get ideas. I also get lots of orders from elder Navajo people, and they always want the jewelry heavy and in the traditional style.
Perry Null Trading:
When did your work start to get recognized by collectors?
Calvin Martinez:
In 1983 I did a show in Kansas City where a woman came to my booth. She was wearing a bracelet that I liked and recognized. I asked her if I could see it, and it was a piece I had made. I told her and she was very happy to meet me. At that time I realized that my style was one people liked and buying.
Perry Null Trading:
Who are some of the artist you had an influence on?
Calvin Martinez:
I taught my brothers Terry & Rick, and also my brother in-law Ernest Begay. I have also worked with non-indian artist, teaching a person from North Carolina and another from San Antonio, Texas.
Perry Null Trading:
You can not find your work at many of the trading post in Gallup, why?
Calvin Martinez:
I will only sell my work to people I know. Buyers that appreciate the work and the ones I can talk about jewelry with, many buyers do not know good jewelry and are always trying to beat down your price.
Perry Null Trading:
Do you know where some of your best pieces have gone to?
Calvin Martinez:
I have a collector who contacts me for piece work. He has over 200 of my pieces, some work I have never duplicated. In the home he has it in a showcase, and some of them have very collectable pieces of turquoise. It would be nice to have some of those back.

Leonard Nez

Perry Null Trading:
I know you are originally from Arizona and your wife is from New Mexico. Being from opposite ends of the Reservation how did you meet?
Leonard Nez:
We met through my sister. At first we became good friends, and then a couple of years later we married.
Perry Null Trading:
Do you have a big family?
Leonard Nez:
We have four children, two boys and two girls. The boys are the oldest, the oldest being 30 years old. They have a framing company and stay busy doing construction work. The girls the youngest, our baby is 13 years old. Our oldest daughter is a Pre-School Director for the Eastern Navajo Agency.
Perry Null Trading:
So none of the children are following your footsteps by making jewelry?

Leonard Nez:
No, they all have their careers and are happy doing what they do.
Perry Null Trading:
When did you first get into making jewelry?
Leonard Nez:
My wife introduced me to jewelry. She was the one who taught me how to silversmith. Before that I did other types of work.
Perry Null Trading:
What other types of work?
Leonard Nez:
I worked for the cable company in Albuquerque laying cable for televisions. That job I had for six years, they moved me to Phoenix. Then they wanted to move me to Oregon, but knew that I couldn’t take my children that far away. After that I operated heavy equipment for about 5 years.
Perry Null Trading:
What are the benefits of being in business for your self?
Leonard Nez:
When I was 13 years old my late Uncle, James Begay Sr., taught me how to team rope. I couldn’t do this when I was working these other jobs because I would have to work on the weekends. Now I can do my team roping and make jewelry.
Perry Null Trading:
Are you the header or healer?
Leonard Nez:
I am a healer. My fastest time is 5.3 seconds. I have a 13 year old quarter horse named Slash, and he is a good one. It also allows me to make trophy buckles for competitions, like the one I have on. I made this for a guy who never paid me, so I wear it. Traded a buckle with my cousin Gibson Nez for some stones once.
Perry Null Trading:
Where you a big athlete in high school?
Leonard Nez:
I played basketball, football, baseball, and wrestled at Holbrook High School. In wrestling I went undefeated until the last match in the state final.
Perry Null Trading:
You said that your wife taught you silversmithing. Where did your style come from?
Leonard Nez:
When I first started making jewelry I made traditional style pieces. About seven years ago I started making more contemporary pieces. I combine both traditional designs with contemporary designs, this is how I wanted to make my jewelry.
Perry Null Trading:
This design is very striking. Have your pieces done well in shows?
Leonard Nez:
Yes, I have won best of show awards and show my jewelry in correspondence with the Indian Market. I get a good response from customers and am always staying busy.

Lonn Parker

Perry Null Trading:
Where were you born at and where did you go to school at?
Lonn Parker
I was born in Denver Colorado. I went to school in Utah. My mother, my sister and brothers all still live there. After High School I enlisted in the Marines and was station in California. It is there I meet my wife Lonie we have three boys.
Perry Null Trading:
How long have you been into your motorcycles?
Lonn Parker
I was about eleven when I started out on dirt bikes. I have been a motor enthusiast since then. My wife and I enjoy attending bike rallies all over the country.
Perry Null Trading:
Your jewelry is unique. How do you come up with the design?
Lonn Parker
I am a self taught artist my inspirations goes back to a child. I started in the Indian jewelry industry when I was eleven years old. Beauty has no barriers and the visions of the jewelry are a blessing to me.

Perry Null Trading:
Are you passing the art down to any of your boys?
Lonn Parker
My boys all make jewelry but, my son Chase is designing jewelry. Chase is a graphic artist which helps him make very interesting pieces. His work can be seen in magazines already.
Perry Null Trading:
Thanks.