Hopi Overlay Artists

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Biography

Introduced to silversmithing by the Zuni & Navajo peoples in the late 1800's, Hopi jewelry looked very much like that of their neighbors. In the late 1930's Mary Russell Ferrell Colton, founder of the Museum of Northern Arizona, collaborated with Hopi artists Fred Kabotie & Paul Saufkie to create a style & process that would become uniquely Hopi. After World War II the GI Bill sponsored workshops for veterans & in 1949 the Hopi Cooperative Guild was established to provide tools, materials & training to all Hopi.

And so Hopi overlay technique was born. Ancient designs from Hopi basketry & pottery reflect both spiritual symbols as well as daily life. Created by cutting designs out of a piece of silver & soldering it to a second layer, the exposed underlayer is oxidized with liver of sulphur to blacken the silver. The top layer is buffed with steel wool or a buffing wheel to remove the tarnish & reveal the design in the layer beneath.
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