Daughter and niece of award-winning tufa-cast experts Gary and Ira Custer, this young lady follows beautifully in the family footsteps.
This remarkably handsome and intricate concho belt shows her artistry and skill in this difficult medium. The tufa medium results in pieces that are both rugged and delicate, as here.
Tufa is a naturally compressed form of limestone sand. It is notoriously crumbly, and has to be carefully sawn and sculpted to preserve its shape. Casting molten silver – or another metal – from tufa requires a skillful and delicate touch.
Because it crumbles so readily, only a few casts can be made, usually, from one carved-out piece. See if you can tell which conchos are identical, and which are not.
The nine graceful ovals are covered with delicate swirls and circles referring to water. Sitting above each one, is a three-dimensional dragonfly. These are good luck symbols, since they flit and dart above waterways.
Notice, as well, the subtle variations in the forms of the dragonflies, indicating which ones came from the same tufa mold. Look at the back of the buckle, and you will note tufa’s characteristic pitted surface, even though the silver has been polished.
This belt has other signs of quality besides the beauty of the design and the expertise of the execution: the silver is a thick and solid gauge; each concho is held in place with two sturdy copper keepers, so they won’t twist and turn when worn; the buckle can be unsnapped, and worn alone, with another leather belt, if you wish.
The leather belt can be cut to fit, or exchanged for a different leather altogether. (The conchos will slide off the leather, and can be attached to a different length of leather, and the buckle snaps off.)
With its curly water spirals gleaming over the darkened lower parts of the silver ovals, and the curved forms of the dragonflies, this belt is a pleasing combination of grace and substance.
Definitely one-of-a-kind, it will look chic with jeans, of course, and also with slacks, skirts, dresses, and more.