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Cactus in Bloom

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Catching Up With a Good Friend....

Several years ago when Bill & I were volunteering at Sevilleta NWR (located about 60 miles south of Albuquerque on I 25), we were asked to man the Federal Junior Duck Stamp booth at the NM State Fair which was in ABQ.  Of course it was an assignment we were more than happy to do as we not only spent a few hours each of 4 days at the booth, but we were able to wander around the fairgrounds and take in the sights.  One of the attractions was the Native American pavilion....   Native dances with authentic attire, exhibits of art and crafts, and jewelry.   A silversmith was crafting some beautiful jewelry as we watched.  I had a bracelet that had belonged to Bill's grandmother and it was too big for my wrist.  We asked the silversmith if he could alter it.
That began our friendship with Greg Lewis, a Native American of the Laguna tribe.

Greg lives about 50 miles west of ABQ in Paquate where his family has lived for several generations.  He was born while his father was in the military, but he returned to the area after learning the silversmith art from his grandfather in California.  

As you turn off the highway to drive out to his place, there is a big sign giving directions to his and his son's metalsmith shop.  Yes, one of his sons has followed in his footsteps.

As you get closer to the second turnoff you'll see this older sign...
The Arrowhead is Greg's trademark.  It can be found on every piece of jewelry that he makes.

Greg wasn't expecting us and we found him at his studio, hard at work...
He had made this pendant and was making the silver beads that will go on the chain that holds it.  A man had a photo of his grandmother wearing a beautiful pendant and he asked Greg to duplicate it.

Greg has won awards for his jewelry all over the USA.  While he's very proud of his work (here he's showing us his photo album of some of his pieces).. and rightly so...  you'll see Blue Ribbons hanging from the ceiling and other awards stuck in picture frames and on the walls.  He's well known in the Native American art world, but you'd never guess it until you talk a while with him.

You can see that his studio isn't very big, but it fits Greg and his personality just fine!

Greg does all his work by "special order".   A few years ago Bill asked him to design a Bolo tie that would depict the Four Corners area of NM.  (Bill was born and raised just a few miles from there in Farmington)   Greg did a fantastic job of crafting not only a Bolo tie, but a matching belt buckle....  each state of the Four Corners had a stone or design indicative of that area.  (I'd include a picture, but right now that set is in our safe deposit box in Ohio).

Here's some of the jewelry he made for me...
At the left is a bear tooth I found in Maine.... he mounted the cap and turquoise stone to make it into a pendant.  The middle is a turtle... the turquoise is from Nevada.  At the right is a claw and turquoise stone which his son made.

In the course of our visit this time, Greg showed us various pieces of turquoise he has....  and then a bear claw from Alaska.  Lots of times he'll make a cast of a claw (like an eagle's talon) and then add the silver replica to his piece...  but sometimes he makes a piece out of the original.
This claw is from a bear on the Kenai...  and that's where Bill & I lived for 4 months in 2001.
Guess I couldn't live without it....  here he is, writing up the order for my newest acquisition.
The claw is just to the right of his hand.  He drew up a design we both liked....  he has some other work he has to complete, but I'll show y'all what the finished piece is when I get it in a month or so.

We left the studio to see his new home...
This collage shows some of the pictures and artwork there.
Greg's family is most important....  that's a painting of him holding his son at upper left; his wife's mother at upper right.  In the middle is a painting of Greg in front of his studio.  The lower right and left are pictures I took of him showing us photos of his grandparents and other members of his family.

We had a great visit...  
It may be a few years before we see him again, but Bill & I both smile just thinking of him when we wear his creations.

That's All For Today!

6 comments:

  1. I hear a wonderful friendship in this post story. Thank you for sharing.

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  2. So amazing to run into friends in your travels, makes this lifestyle so rewarding.

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  3. I just found you. What a lovely life you and your husband live. I look forward to reading more of your blog. I especially enjoyed seeing photos and learning about this artist and his work. Fun to see the inside of his studio. Thanks.

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