Saturday, March 1, 2008

Parrot by Little Known Artist

I regularly receive email communications from folks telling me how much they enjoy going through my Ebay store and this blog. A few go on to tell me they would love to buy but cannot afford pieces from what has been my showcase tilted toward the higher end, brand named items like those of the late great Navajo silversmith Harry Morgan and the Zuni master Don Dewa. So in recent weeks I've been concentrating on finding works of excellence that fall within a more affordable range and that means leaving the famous names behind for awhile. The parrot pin/pendant represented here is by a little known Zuni artist. I had never heard or seen his name prior to picking up his excellent creation and reading his name inscribed on the back. My search for information on him yielded nothing. The wholesaler who I originally bought the parrot from him told me his first name was "Kordell." Many buyers on lower end items don't even bother with asking an artisan's name or checking to see if the piece is signed. Kendell Shebola is obviously an accomplished artist. One of the first things I note (which is common to all good Zuni work) is the tightness of fit of the stones. Zuni jewelry is made with sterling silver which is very much of secondary importance unlike that seen in Hopi work where the artistry comes alive in the exquisite pure sterling silver creations. The beauty of Zuni art emerges through the use of stones and shells complimented or merely held in place by a sterling silver base. In some pieces the silver is even invisible in the dominant front view in which case the final product with its meticulously cut, almost invisible stone boundaries may look like a champleve' product (jewelry finished by a smooth enameling surface process. Zuni artisan Harlan Coonsis often produces champleve' looking stone jewelry. The parrot above has tiny silver strips separating the stone which include mother of pearl, jet, pink mussel, abalone, and turquoise. At this point I know Master Kendell only through this one piece of art, but his name has gone into my little book and I'll be inquiring about him and his work as I merily go about my jewelry study, exploration, and acquisiton.