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2006/10/04

Tufa Jewelry Maker

I met Aaron Anderson at his Gallup home and got to watch an artist at work. Many of the Navajo artists, potters and jewelry makers think that he is making a mistake by sharing his secrets and letting people see how he does "it". He thinks that it is a waste to work on learning a skill and not passing it on to others.
Besides, just because he lets a person see him work does not mean that they can do what he does. I could watch footage of Evel Kneivel jumping cars a thousand times and still not have a chance of succeeding. And that it the thing - he works so quickly and makes it look so easy... but what he is really doing is showing his years of experience.
Tufa is the stone that he carves by hand to make a mold. Then he melts silver (sometimes gold)and pours it into the mold to create his art. Each piece he makes is unique. When you buy one of his creations the Tufa stone he carved for the mold is sold with it.
Once the mold cools the jewelry - in this case a bracelet - is still far from ready. It needs to be shaped, cleaned, have a stone - usually turquoise - mounted on it, then polished to a spectacular shine
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