By Jill Soens
Artie Yellowhorse embodies family tradition, past and present. She is a third generation Navajo silversmith, born in Arizona, a member of the Towering House clan, and follows in the footsteps of her Grandfather and Father, both silversmiths and her Mother and Grandmother, each an excellent weaver.
In her studio, Artie is joined by her daughters Desiree and Lei Lani who are following the family tradition of pairing high quality silver and stone jewelry with modern and contemporary twists.
Consider this charm bracelet:
Flirty and fun, happy and cheerful, it is both modern and traditional in design.
A double link chain and double linked heart charms ensures each piece stays on safely and the toggle link makes it simple to put on and off. And each piece demonstrates traditional Navajo silversmithing quality with the heart shaped reversible charms: gaspeite, orange spiney oyster, denim lapis, blue turquoise, redish spiney oyster, deep blue lapis and green turquoise on one side reversing to silver. The silver side of the large hearts have a surprise: another silver heart in raised relief surrounded by a lacy design.
Early Navajo silversmiths in the 1850’s made buttons, buckles and clasps to hold garments together and turquoise was first set into silver in the mid 1880’s. We have come a long way from the utilitarian origins of silversmithing and expanded the number and color of stones used but, the high quality, the passion and creativity, ingrained traditions, remain the same.
Artie has 4 grandchildren to light her heart and life and one or more of them may become charmed with the life of a silversmith and follow the family tradition.