“Seahorse Gauntlet” 4″ tall sterling silver chased cuff – $3,000
When I was little I wanted to be a marine biologist, Miss Piggy, or Teela from the He-Man cartoons. However, I didn’t think the latter two options were very realistic so I collected shells and scoured the library for sea life books. Although I was raised to be very meek, submissive, and usually felt like I was walking on broken glass, I still managed to convince our parents to take us to the beach now and then. My brother Jeremy and I loved the ocean! I still have shells I collected when I was small. He wanted to be a marine biologist, too. Neither of us went that route as adults, but our little sister is interested in that now. Sometimes when we went to the fair we’d win goldfish in a bag and put them in our little fish tank, where they lasted a few months. I really wanted a saltwater tank so we could have live seahorses, but that was too expensive and too much work. So now I put them in my jewelry. A client wanted a tall cuff, but her wrist was much smaller and it didn’t fit. It took thousands of hammer hits to make this, and it’s all one piece of silver. I drew on the sea horses, chased around them, chased the skin, chased the background, hammered from the back, and kept working like that for a month until I liked it and it was ready to bend. Initially it was really huge and could almost fit on my upper arm.
I ended up trimming it down on the edges but lost some of the seaweed design underneath, which bummed me out a bit. I showed it to Frank Turley, and he said it was a Spirit Line, which is a deliberate imperfection many Navajo artists put into their work to release their spirit from the piece. It’s also considered arrogant by some to think humans can attain perfection, as only the deities can do that. Hey, that sounds good to me, even if Frank is a Non Native. Why didn’t I think of it? Everyone loves this cuff, but when I say “$3,000,” they exclaim, “Why is it so much?!” So I say, “This ain’t no Made in China bullshit! It’s $1 for each hammer hit and the silver is free.”