Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ray Roanhorse - Nickel Silver Artisan

Early on Saturday morning a few weeks ago Sandy and I stopped for breakfast at one of Gallup's McDonalds. As we ate we noted a tall Navajo man going table to table offering bowguards (also known as Ketohs) for sale. Bowguards are an ancient leather-based invention designed to protect an archer's wrist from string slap. They are also used as a personal adornment and are frequently worn for ceremorial dress. Although everyone else had waved him on, he found a welcome reception at our table. We learned that he was Ray Roanhorse from Klagetho, Arizona who was taught the craft by his sister Flo. We saw that each bowguard was uniquely stamped and accented with a piece of turquoise from the Sleeping Beauty mine in Arizona. I bought all he had for sale at a price considerably more than he asked.

I have a particular interest in our regional nickel silversmiths. They work with nickel silver because it is much cheaper to buy than sterling, nonetheless the products are just as labor intensive. Unfortunately, there is very little demand for nickel silver jewelry which sells at a fraction of the cost of sterling based creations. Mr. Roanhorse was pleased that we appreciated his work and that I wanted to ackowledge him as a noteable artist on our internet sites.

Our discovery of Mr. Roanhorse and his work in the midst of our McMuffin feast made for a great start for us on yet another day in Indian Southwest.