Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cut, Hammer, File

This is an impressive 1915 image by William J. Carpenter of an early Navajo Silversmith at work in his hogan. Click for an enlargement and note his tools, horse tack, hat, blanket, and the coins which were used as a smith's primary source of silver in those days. As I have stood and watched notable modern day silversmiths like Ella Kee and Calvin Begay fashion new designs from silver, I have often thought of this historic reference image and noted that not much has changed in the past 100 years. Sure they have now have good vices, a full anvil, stool and workbench, and steady music from their radios, but it's still mostly cut, hammer, and file by hand in the old fashion Navajo way.