Tufa Cast Cuff Bracelet with Blue Gem Turquoise
5 1/4" with 1" opening
Darryl Begay is rapidly establishing himself as a young Navajo silversmith worth watching. Using the ancient tufa cast method of casting silver, the bracelet’s inside and outside displays the dramatic texture. Adorned by a large piece of quality stone of stabilized Kingman turquoise, this contemporary bracelet skillfully merges old and new.
Darryl Begay - Jeweler
Darryl learned the art of Tufa casting from his uncle Bobby Begay. Through trial and error Darryl has created his own style of jewelry. Rich in Navajo culture, his hard work has brought Darryl recognition in the native art scene. Raymond C. Yazzie taught Darryl the difficult technique of corn row style inlay. Raymond has also been sharing his metal smithing techniques and has been a mentor to Darryl. The meticulous carving of thte Tufa stone has brought Darryl to new levels as his jewelry has become more three dimensional. With a recenrt trip to the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts, Darryl has learned new techniques which he will incorporate in his jewelry. For now he is making one masterpiece at a time.
In His Own Words
I would like to introduce myself by saying my Navajo clans. I am Ye'ii Dine'e Ta'chii'nii (Holy people Red streak extending into water clan) and I'm born for the Ta'neeszhanii (Tangle clan). My maternal grandfathers are the Totsohnii (Big water clan) and my paternal grandfathers are the Ashiihi (Salt clan). This is who I am as a Dineh.
I was born and raised on the Navajo Nation. I have been around my grandparents since I was young and they raised me to a certain extent. English was my second language. Knowing the Navajo language has helped me to communicate with my grandparents. My grandfather was a well known hataalii (medicine man) and my grandmother was also a medicine woman. They knew the Blessing Way ceremony. This ceremony is the backbone of the Navajo culture. It is from my grandfather's clan that I get the artistic talent. The Totsohniis are known to be artistic. My first clan, Ye'ii Dine'e Ta'chii'nii, are known as healers.
My grandfather worked across America. Working either the railroads or fighting fires. My grandmother raised their children and tended to the livestock. During her spare time my grandmother wove rugs and saddle blankets. During one season, my grandfather worked at the Morenci mine and he brought home pieces of turquoise. He grinded them on a stone slab and drilled holes in the stones making them into a pair of earrings. Also during certain healing ceremonies, my grandfather sandpainted sacred deities. Over the years I have learned a lot from my grandparents. They knew about farming and ranching from a spiritual standpoint. They are the biggest influence in my life.
I was always intrigued by the wisdom and knowledge my grandparents knew. I spent summer breaks with them at our summer sheep camp ( ranch ). It was high in the Chuska mountains, near the four corners. I, along with my cousin and older brother, would herd sheep and round up our cattle. Riding horses through the mountain and seeing wildlife was some of the most cherished moments of my life. It is from these memories I draw upon my inspirations to do my art work.
After high school, I entered college and majored in accounting. But after awhile, I decided to take a break. Then in the summer of 1997, fate called upon me. I decided to move in with my grandparents and take care of them for the time being. During this time I realized how much I had strayed from the realities of life. I had been out of harmony for awhile. I listened to every word my grandparents said and they performed ceremonies for me to bring me back into harmony. For that I am forever grateful. At that same moment in time, my uncle came into my life.
My uncle, Bobby Begay, is a Native American Church medicineman and a silversmith. During that summer we ran ceremonies for people and we tended to our cattle. He became my mentor and my friend. He asked me to help him do some silverwork. This is when I was introduced to Tufa stone casting. He told me that this casting technique is one of the oldest and hardest to learn. But it came to me so naturally, I instantly fell in love with it. I made some simple bracelets and we worked together for a couple of weeks. We were getting ready for a show in Cortez, Colorado.
That show changed my life forever. I never knew that Native American Art could reach Fine Art status. All the times I went to Pow Wow's, I thought that the arts and crafts were cool, but this Mesa Verde Art show blew my mind. From that show I wanted to learn more about the art world.
I went back to college in the fall of 1997. While attending college I met my future wife, Rebecca. We had very similar interests and she was beautiful. I eventually married her.
In the summer of 1998 I decided that I wanted to learn more about silver smithing and pursue a career in art instead of accounting. So I quit working and I quit trying to finish college. I bought the basic tools that would get me started. From there we became starving artists.
From the beginning I knew I had to be different and creative. I looked to my culture and ceremonies for guidance. My grandparents and my uncle knew that silver smithing had been in our family for generations. They were my resource. One of the first questions I asked was if I could use sacred deities in my art. They told me no. They said they are too powerful and are used in ceremonies only. This is the reason why you won't see sacred deities in my art. It was during this time that I made my commitment to become an artist. The prayers of my family created my foundation and I set out on a new adventure.
My first big show was the Pueblo Grande Indian Market. It was during this show I met other artists that helped me develop my art. I give a lot of credit to Vernon Haskie who is like a brother to me. It was during those early years that he helped me out with stones and advice that pushed me forward. I met another artist who is also like a brother to me, Lyndon Tsosie. I admired his creativity and ingenuity. They are both my older brothers and I still look up to them.
During the spring of 1999, I attended a show In Scottsdale, Arizona. It was called Rawhide Indian Market. While I was there I met this artist who invited me to his booth and showed me his jewelry. I could not believe the artistry of his stonework (lapidary). This artist has helped me through leaps and bounds. In my opinion, Raymond Yazzie is a world class lapidary artist. Raymond became my mentor and showed me how to inlay stones. He has my utmost respect for the artist he is and for being there for young, up and coming artists. His wife, Colina, has also been there for me and my family. You can see his influence in my Inlayed jewelry.
My first Santa Fe Indian Market was in 1999. When I got accepted I felt humbled as I knew it was my unique style of casting that spoke for itself. The following year I got into the Heard Museum Indian Market. These shows are world renowned and to be included in them is an honor.
In 2001 I was at a show, the Eight Northern Indian Art show, when I met a gentleman who became a good friend of mine, Robb Lucas. He is the manager of Case Trading Post at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian in Santa Fe, NM. He is a humble man who loves Native American art. The museum is a must see historical site. I love to do presentations there.
In the summer of 2002, I received the Goodman Fellowship from the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian. Also I was one of the artists featured in the August 2002 Indian Market Edition of Southwest Art magazine. These two events were such an honor I thank our Creator, Christ, our ceremonies, our prayers, and our holypeople.
I recently taught my little brother, Philander Begay, how to cast and he's a must see artist himself. There's so much to do, but I'm going to take it one step at a time. Some of my future ambitions are to do sculpting and painting. For now I just want to create jewelry that will bring joy to people. From here and forward, history is being made on God's term.