NCAC Emerging Artisan 2018/19 (Basket Maker, Moccasin Maker)
My husband, Mike and I signed up for a two-day silversmith workshop in St. Michaels on October 25thand 26th. Our instructors for these days were Chris Tom, Charles Johnson and Lester Craig. Day 1 we worked on stamping straight lines for a bracelet and then on Day 2 we worked on cutting and soldering.
I took the workshop because I wanted to learn how to make buttons for my moccasins. I want to finish a pair of moccasins that is made all by yours truly. That was my goal when I showed up. On that first day, the men asked about our goals or why we were taking the workshop and then they decided what types of projects we would be working on. I was given smaller stamps to work with, to practice repetition in my stamping and to also do some drawing with basic stamps. My husband and I had so much fun these two days. We learned so much from these gentlemen that it inspired us to really take this art seriously and purchase the supplies to get started.
Some of the tips I remember from these two days were: if you make a mistake with your stamping, just go with it and make the mistake apart of your final piece. After each hit you make with your hammer, regroup and hit the stamp again. Don’t forget to breathe. And you will smash your thumb so just let it happen, there’s no avoiding it. If you are very serious about silversmithing, practice and practice and work at it every day.
I feel that all these tips apply to all the Navajo cultural arts and to life general. Mistakes help you to learn about you strengthens and weaknesses and to learn from them. It makes your life interesting but, only if you learn from them. We will all get hurt so don’t be afraid to live your life. When you make mistakes or get hurt you must regroup and take a breath. And if you love to do something you should enjoy it, by doing it every day.