Saturday, March 1, 2008

Hummingbirds by Ella Gia

I am committed to promoting our local Native American artists, big names and small, so I was very happy when I ran across the pictured hummingbird bracelet by Ella Gia a few days ago at one of my favorite wholesale dealers who works the middle to the lower end of the market. I was impressed that her very worthy work was marked at such a low price especially given that her inlay, in my judgement is equivalent in quality to that of the big names such as the Edaakie and Lanconsellos of Zuni. Sadly enough, the dealer even gave me the wrong name of the artist when he sold me the work. Fortunately, I could read her engraved signature without difficulty so I began my usual research. She is in none of the most commonly cited reference works which I keep at hand. A Google search led me to one web reference only which also included her jewelry making daughter, Lenora. The two lines on Ms. Gia read, "Ella is an excellent maker of inlaid jewelry! She like many Zuni crafts people, has another job. She works at the Zuni Head Start during the day, while following the making of jewelry at night." Her story is so familiar; nearly all of the independent Native American jewelry artists need to have a primary job as their mainstay of making a living. Now that the cost of silver is again skyrocketing, the cost of buying supplies and selling in a very competitive market which includes cheap "Native American Style" jewelry from foreign sources is constantly eroding incentives to continue the good work.

Now that Ella Gia has entered my blog and I've put her bracelet on EBay, she will have at least 3 Google hits by tomorrow. I love her work, and I'll certainly be on the search for more.