In the mid 1800s, Navajo silversmiths started to use sand casting as one of their silversmithing techniques. Today, silversmiths still use this technique by carving a design in tufa stone (a porous limestone) and then placing another stone against it. The two pieces are fastened together and molten silver is poured in. Once it has cooled, the artist takes the piece out and finishes it. Gary Custer hand made this magnificent sterling silver bolo in this manner. Sterling silver with a turquoise stone. Signed. Weighs 72 grams
2 1/8” wide x 2 3/4” long
47″ long with bolo strap & sterling silver tips
The Navajos began working with silver in the 19th century, and began making things like buckles, bridles, buttons, rings, canteens, hollow beads, earrings, crescent-shaped pendants (called “najas”), bracelets, crosses, powder chargers, tobacco canteens, and conchos (for belts). Their silversmithing skills has evolved and changed throughout the years, and in about 1880 Navajo silversmiths started to set turquoise in their silver work. Traditionally, Navajo artists worked with jewelry techniques like repousee and stamp work, but today they explored in other Native American jewelry making techniques like Zuni inlay work and Hopi overlay work.