Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Santo Domingo Pueblo and Handwrought by Henry

Handmade Turquoise and Multi-stone Necklace With Removable Pendant by Henry Rosetta
I know for certain, after visiting Henry Rosetta in his home workshop, that he does not use a hand operated bellows directed at a bowl of lump charcoal as the heat source for casting and shaping silver nor does he resort to muscle alone in cutting, grinding, drilling, and polishing his stones.   Instead, he uses electricity and compressed hydrocarbon based fuel as energy sources in creating his masterworks, but the rest of his craft technique remains true to his great ancestral heritage.   I am always in search of individual great artists like Henry who create from scratch.

The insatiable appetite for Native American jewelry is, unknown to most consumers, in large part feed by prefabricated metal and stone products which can be purchased at our area Indian jewelry supply houses.  In Henry's case, he could have bought pre-strung graduated turquoise buttons and heishi shell beads.  In contrast, the individually cut multi-stones inlaid on the three cylinders are not the type of product that can be found at a supply house and must be made by hand.    Nonetheless, Henry had the option of taking short cuts with commercial products, but he does not and thus imbues his jewelry with exceptional worth and enduring legacy.

Native American Silversmiths with Bellows over Pan of Charcoal, circa 1920's
Source: Library of Congress