A post by Delia Wauneka, Emerging Artisan
Hello to all you NCAP Blog Followers! My name is Delia Wauneka. I am the Coyote-Pass Jemez People (Ma’iideeshgiizhinii) and my father’s clan is the Big Water People (Totsohnii). My home is in Lukachukai, AZ, where my family and I continue to live. When I am not cruising around with my family, you can find me at Diné College where I work full time as the Residence Life Assistant. I plan activities and events for residents at the dorms throughout the year. (Your welcome, to countless DC Residents, for making your dorm stay awesome!)
This year is a bit different from before because in addition to working at the College, I am also part of the Navajo Cultural Arts Certificate Cohort. You may have even been one of my lucky stamping workshop attendees during the Navajo Cultural Arts week a bit back.
In addition to the small class size that provides tons of individualized attention, another program benefit is the opportunity to travel to local and regional cultural arts museums, events, and other cultural art studios. Last weekend we traveled to Santa Fe and Albuquerque to partake in workshops that could broaden and expand our skills in our particular trade. For example, I am Silversmith with my parents but my whole family knows that there is room for improving ourselves at any level – so workshops with new people, new equipment, and new techniques was not a trip I was going to miss
Our weekend started at the Wheelwright Museum. We had a guided tour of the Silversmithing exhibit and we learned how this private museum created its collection. It was very exciting to see the structure of both the building and content that the Wheelwright supports. The building is faced towards the east and entrance is the exact same layout of the traditional Hoghan; such respect and acknowledgment to the Navajo culture astounded me while visiting.
Meltdown Studio hosted our small group of 5 on Saturday and Sunday. We entered into this deceivingly small corner house and we were immediately greeted with a silversmith’s paradise. We learned an array of techniques throughout those two days: two types of Etching (Chemical & Electric), Enameling, and the Basics of Soldering with Bezeling emphasis. Two days may seem like a short time period, but within that period, we experienced a unique crash course that I will never forget. Perhaps it was the different approaches introduced to us by our compassionate instructor, Lauren Tobey; but the experience I had there made me want to never leave. In every area she gave us the motivation to finish each project within the time frame we were given. It inspired me to build my own work studio similar to Lauren’s.
Most of us lost all sense of time and we even forgot about lunch. Each day we rushed through lunch to get back to our developing projects. I challenge myself to make my very own handmade beads. I watched as Lauren did her demonstration, yet I struggled with this project and I decided to put it aside. Later on the day, I confronted my own self-doubts and challenged myself to finish one bead. You know what… I did it! I am so proud that now I can say, “I made my own bead”. After our first day at Meltdown Studio, back at our rooms, we were amazed at what we accomplished with our projects.
The rolling mill was another tool that Lauren introduced us to. I made bracelets and combined the rolled pattern with overlay soldering on top. I waited till I got home to finish this project because I didn’t have a stone with me. At home, I went straight to my leftover stone pile and found a perfect match. Grinding, shaping, and setting this stone were a piece of cake and finished my bracelet within 30 minutes.
I was so inspired and motivated by this visit that I presented Lauren with a small token: a pair of beaded earrings. I was taught that if you learn something from someone in this fashion, it is always good to leave him or her a gift of your own. Totally worth the trip!