Authentic Navajo Jewelry from Shenan Begay
Just as we believe Western Shirts should be made in the west, we believe Native American jewelry should be made by Native American artists. Now available at the Mercantile, a few pieces by well-known jewelry maker, Shenan Begay.
Shenan Begay’s Work
Last summer I lost a piece of turquoise in a pendant and multiple people suggested Shenan Began make the repair. She did a beautiful job replacing the stone and showed me some of her work for future placement at the Mercantile. While we won’t carry a lot of jewelry, the pieces we do carry will be special–pieces like what Shenan crafts.
In her own words:
My name is Shenan Begay. I am 43 yrs old from White Cone, Az. I am full blooded Dine’ aka Navajo (Native American.) I started filing as a high schooler and always had a passion for art. My mother always made me work on my penmanship as a kid so that was important. In 2008, I met Nancy Woody who has been making jewelry for over 30 yrs. We both work together on our jewelries. The work I do is called overlay. I mainly work with silver, but can work with other metals as well. I’m learning how to cut stone which is another art within itself. It’s tough to remember all the rocks that I use. I try to use mostly Arizona turquoise, but love all turquoise colors.
I’ve been using a saw to hand cut all my drawings or designs and solder them onto sheets of silver to make my pieces. Then it’s like a blank canvas in which I use my stamps to bring my pieces to life. I have over 200 stamps and once I’m done detailing, I shaped the piece and file excess silver off and then shine it. I then clean the piece and blackened where needed and shine it up for bagging. I’m also learning the art of sand casting which is melting the silver and using a mold and sand to bring a piece to life.
We have a few small pieces to start. A copper bracelet with the Kokopelli design in sterling. A pair of stamped sterling silver post earrings with Sleeping Beauty Turquoise. A brown leather bracelet with Carico Green Turquoise set in sterling silver. A sterling silver bracelet with horses and Kingman Turquoise. A bear pendant with coral and Kingman Turquoise.
To see Shenan’s work…
Visit the Motor Palace Mercantile at 213 N. Kinsley Ave, Winslow AZ or check them out on the online store.
Down the road we hope to do some custom pieces specifically for the Mercantile, so stay tuned.
Until next time…