As a Native American artist and registered member of the Oklahoma Choctaw nation my
goal is to create contemporary porcelain jewelry that reflects my Native American heritage.
The components of my Jewelry fall into several general categories. Hand Sculpted and carved One of a Kind focal pieces, Hand sculpted pieces that are cast and then hand painted with china paint, cast beads, and stamped pieces. Most of my jewelry will have more than one of these components. Many times a one of a kind focal piece will have cast beads used in the final design to complement and finish it off. Just because a component has been cast does not make it any less hand made or any less original art. I make all of my molds and except for some spacer beads all are from original sculpture. I do not use commercial molds.
For One of a Kind components the piece is sculpted in either porcelain or native clay depending on the design desired. Then they are decorated either with incising, stamps, hand carving, and in some cases also painted with china paints or underglazes..
For the Cast components the following procedure is generally followed. Each piece is originally sculpted from either clay or wax. Then a mold is made so that the shapes can be reproduced. Many of these components are in the forms of traditional Native American icons such as the arrowhead and feathers. They are then slip cast in fine porcelain creating the unique canvas for the original miniature paintings that will adorn them. In this way the weight of the jewelry is minimized and unique designs are available for a canvas to hand paint the miniature paintings on.
Each component is then carefully painted using china paints. I utilize two methods of getting the basic design on the piece. On the more expensive pieces the design is drawn directly on the piece freehand and colored and shaded over multiple firings. In order to also provide some more economical pieces I will sometimes transfer the basic design onto the piece mechanically and then hand paint and color it with the china paints. This method saves considerable time because the free hand drawing can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours depending on the complexity of the design. Because china paint is translucent each unique painting will require from 4 to 6 or 8 firings to achieve the depth and detail. This also allows for fine detail and shading of the subjects resulting in very detailed artwork. I utilize animals that are traditionally believed to be powerful, such as the wolf and eagle as the subject matter for the miniature paintings on these pieces as well as stylized designs, ancient designs and in some cases floral designs. The combination of an unusual and unique shape with the original hand painted design results in each piece being a one of a kind original piece of art work which is lightweight and will be a joy to wear.
In addition to the pieces which are designed as a canvas for a miniature painting I also do many pieces which are formed in the shape of birds or animals. These pieces are then hand painted in a similar manner to resemble the bird or animal. Some of these are fantasy animals some are realistic.
Each of these components come together with silver or copper in some cases to create a piece of wearable art that is truly unique.
As Choctaw we are decended from the ancient mound builders. The mound building culture of the Mississipian and Woodland periods, is one with a rich artistic and cultural background. Many lovely and interesting designs have been found in the archaeological discoveries from this period. I also include these ancient designs on many of my pieces.
Beads cast from porcelain are also used both in simple beaded necklaces and in combination with more complex deigns. Most beads are simply glazed at this time, but I plan to do some painting on beads in the future as well.
The marriage of ancient designs, legends, and beliefs with modern forms and methods results in a truly unique and varied but authentic Native American Art Form.