This impressive bracelet is true tufa cast silver, with a wonderful sense of movement, accents of vivid color, and exquisite mastery of the technique.
Not surprising, since Monty Claw is a much-awarded artist in fine beadwork, painting, and jewelry, as well!
He has beadwork in nine different museum collections and is featured in Native Peoples, the official magazine for the 2019 Santa Fe Indian Market, with his jewelry.
This cuff features dragonflies, beloved as a good-luck symbol since they flit and dip above and around water – especially precious in the high desert of Navajo country.
The substantial silver has been cast from tufa, a naturally occurring, compressed sand of volcanic origin.
It is very crumbly, so it is very difficult to create delicate designs.
The design is carved into a slab of tufa; molten silver is then poured in the design, and covered with the top half of the slab.
When cool, the rough silver design is pried out, leaving the friable tufa material only good for possibly one further casting. More often, not.
Then the artist must refine, shape, and finish the piece.
In this splendid cuff, the grainy tufa texture is astonishingly compact and minimal. Slightly darkened to a medium grey, it is a handsome foil for the raised dragonflies and the colorful stones which accent them.
Polished silver at the edges of the cuff, and on the perpendicular bodies of the dragonflies, adds gleaming contrast to the moody grey of the base.
Incredibly delicate, the carved wings form a lacy web of awesomely fragile lines. They even overlap on one side of the bracelet, for a three-dimensional effect.
This waffle-like texture is an important decoration on the restrained surface of the piece.
Natural red coral and natural Sleeping Beauty turquoise form the heads and part of the bodies, adding accents of vibrant color.
The high-quality stones are round for the heads and oval for the bodies, a subtle bit of artistry that adds to the beauty of the design, subliminally.
There is a strong sense of grace and motion in this stunning bracelet, as well as admirable creativity, and amazing skill in execution.
A definite conversation piece and statement of quality, for the fortunate man or woman whom it fits.