indian jewelry


                Native Jewelry Maker- Yazzie Johnson and Gail Bird Santo Domingo/Laguna>



















                Their thematic belts are derived from experiences or
                reflect designs that have had an impact on them. In 1981,
                Bird and Johnson won Best of Show for such a belt at the
                Santa Fe Indian Market held annually in August. In 1988,
                they honored scholar Kate Peck Kent's research of Pueblo
                textile designs by creating a belt inspired by the textiles;
                in 1992, for an auction benefiting the Santa Fe Children's
                Museum, they created a child's belt with designs derived
                from animal crackers. Their belt for the 1996 Santa Fe
                Indian Market was based on circus animal designs observed
                on a basket.

                Bird and Johnson's 1995 belt was one they had planned for some time but had not completed. It was a Route
                66/Tourism belt, reflecting not only the tourist shops that dot the highways from Tucumcari, New Mexico, to
                Flagstaff, Arizona, but also some designs from early tourist jewelry. As with their other creations, the stones
                were essential to the overall design. A yellow and white jasper with dendrites symbolizes lightening striking a
                petroglyph figure with outstretched hands; an Owyhee jasper recalls the vast New Mexico landscape, with layers
                of brown resembling plains and mesas below a gray-green horizon, juxtaposed with intricately stamped, overlay
                automobile patterns.

                The couple's work is characterized by clean, crisp, precise execution and by the inclusion of unusual stones,
                baroque pearls, opals, jaspers, dinosaur bones and other exotic materials drawn from around the world. For their
                earrings, belts, buckles and pins, the stones are selected carefully according to color and texture and become an
                intricate part of the composition. Copyright 2012

                References
                Bassman,  T. Beauty of Hopi Jewelry. 1999.
                Dubin, L.S. North American Indian Jewelry and Adornment. 1999.
                Foxx, J.J. Turquoise Trail: Native American Jewelry and Culture of the Southwest. 1993.
                Frank, L. Indian Silver Jewelry of the Southwest, 1868-1930. 1997.
                Schaaf, G. American Indian Jewelry I: 1200 Artist Biographies. 2003.
                Schiffer, N. Jewelry by Southwest American Indians: Evolving Designs. 1991.
                Simpson, G. A Guide to Indian Jewelry of the Southwest. 1999.
                Wright, B. Hallmarks of the Southwest. 2000.
                  Santo Domingo/Laguna Gail Bird and Navajo Yazzie Johnson, have also been making jewelry for more than twenty years. Self-taught jewelers and scholars at heart, Bird and Johnson learned by experimentation and by reading John Adair's classic book on Navajo and Pueblo jewelry.

                  By examining and researching older jewelry in museum collections, they came to realize that early southwest jewelers did not exclusively use turquoise
                  but other stones as well, such as native garnets, petrified wood and agates.

                  A small scholarship from the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) allowed Bird and Johnson to travel and explore the beauty of the
                  Southwest--its landscape and centuries-old petroglyphs. Applying the knowledge gained from this research they began using a variety of materials they had observed in early jewelry, and experimenting with a range of exotic stones.
                  Yazzie Johnson and Gail Bird