Winner of a highly coveted SWAIA Fellowship, awarded by the sponsors of Santa Fe Indian Market, and a perennial award-winner wherever he shows, Hank comes from the far away Shonto area of the Navajo reservation. Like many artists, he wears various hats: professional welder, rodeo cowboy, tribal presidential candidate, and sublime jewelry artist. His style is always assertive, colorful, and creative. This bolo is an example of his way with color and form, as well as his flawless technique.
A tradition of Navajo jewelry is to make pieces that are large and noticeable; that, the silver motif and most of the materials, are the traditional features in this spectacular bolo. Everything else about it is original, and creative.
Firstly, the form: an irregular, asymmetrical form incorporating straight lines and rounded ones, in a compelling abstract pattern. Next, the colors: sky-blue turquoise, green, spider web variscite, red coral, warm brown mahogany obsidian, and accents of creamy fossil ivory and lapis. He ties these together with a bold, overlaid silver pattern. Everything fits into a masterful arrangement of individual hollow forms of sterling silver, that sit on a unifying, flat silver base.
Vertical rectangles of beautiful, natural blue turquoise fill the right-hand almost-half-circle, accented with slivers of ivory and lapis, and a horizontal “brick” of natural red coral. A gorgeous, pillowed oval of natural, richly webbed blue turquoise is attached to the right side. This is likely Indian Mountain turquoise, from Nevada. The radiant blues of all the turquoise attract, and hold the eye.
The other side is in two parts: at the bottom, lipstick red, natural coral is inlaid into an L-shape. Above this, a stepped pattern of overlaid silver forms angular water symbols. This section is deliberately set with a narrow space between it and the other sections, so that the darkened base silver creates a black border, emphasizing the pattern.
The third section, on the upper left, consists of a warm, reddish brown stone, with bolder accents of the fossil ivory, and turquoise, one of which is horizontal. To the left of this area, the mahogany obsidian stone is inlaid with a rectangle of inlaid blue turquoise, framed in green, webbed variscite, so it looks like a window.
Variscite is a mineral derived from aluminum ore, rather than iron or copper. It is often confused with turquoise, which it resembles, but is almost always green in hue. The brown stone, called mahogany obsidian, is derived from volcanic material, and found in the Western United States (and elsewhere, too, presumably). It can be darker and redder in hue, more like mahogany, but these pieces are a lovely, softer color.
The silver border around this section follows the form, which is a rounded step shape, turned on the side and facing outward. That hints at the traditional stepped rain symbol. With water signs and cool blues, some of the symbolism refers to water; the red coral and brown obsidian characterize the earth and warm sun. As contemporary and abstract as the shape of this bolo is, the choice of materials and patterns are symbols of the balance of nature – a very traditional Navajo ideal.
The hand-braided cord in dark brown, blends in with the colors of the stones, and teardrop dangles of natural, webbed turquoise finish off the sterling tips. The cord measures 50 inches in length, now, but can be cut to fit, if needed.
A unique, meticulously hand made bolo, with stones as exceptional as the design, by a first-rate artist. Truly an heirloom of the future, to enjoy today.