Thursday, May 7, 2009

Virgil & Shirley Benn

Virgil & Shirley Benn have been crafting unique channel inlay products for years. Their names shine along with a few other top notch Zuni jewelry stars. They are particularly well known for their inlays depicting animals such as coyotes, birds, bears, and pumas. They have even done a lion and last I heard were working on a tiger. Their work is accented by expert etching of the stones to give added life to the feathers, fur, and hair of their subjects.

Virgil is of Zuni and Paiute ancestry; his wife Shirley, granddaughter of famous Hopi potter Nampeyo, is Hopi/Tewa. Their collaborative work dates back to the 1950's. Even their current production work is some of the most expensive, but most collectors will agree well worth the cost.

The Tewa clown kachina head above is a brilliant example of their work. The bolo measures approximately 3 1/2 inches by 4 inches. Cost = $1650.