Mary Tom, an award-winning jeweler, creates unusual pieces with a flair for design and the meticulous workmanship she is known for.
This bolo is a fine example of her artistic imagination and her technique.
The heavy-gauge silver is tufa cast, and the grainy texture of the compressed volcanic sand is incorporated as part of the appeal of the piece – except for a highly polished, stepped band of silver, across the top.
In tufa casting, the crumbly semi-hard material is sawn horizontally in half, and the desired design is carved – very carefully – into the bottom half.
Then, molten silver is poured into the mold, a bit like making a waffle, and the excess poured off, while the silver cools and hardens.
Finally, the rough piece is pried from the tufa – which may be used once more, or not, since it is so crumbly – and the artist has to file, chisel, and refine the piece.
Here, eagle feathers form the design on the body of the arrowhead, with a splendid, natural Royston turquoise in the center.
Above the polished band of rain symbols, the top edge of the arrowhead is notched and stamped into arcs that echo the semi-circles at the ends of the eagle feathers.
Eagle feathers carry prayers up to the heavens; arrowheads aim the prayers, and the stepped design indicates prayers for rain – great luck in the desert.
The spectacular turquoise adds a serene and smooth luminosity, in lovely contrast to the granular texture of the silver.
Contrasting with the body of the bolo, the handmade tips and keepers are elegantly formed and brilliantly polished.
Boxed triangular tips relate both to the form of the arrowhead, and to the polished band at the top.
Impeccable workmanship, a gorgeous, natural stone, and pleasing design that symbolizes good luck, all combine to create a stunning bolo.
Stunning, but tasteful, the bolo is a uniquely fine creation, accompanied by a hand-braided cord that is of the same high quality.