Roy Talahaftewa

Born in the Native American Hopi village of Shungopovi August 25, 1955, and the youngest of 2 brothers and 5 sisters, Roy Talahaftewa likes making jewelry as well as any job he has ever had. Roy credits his mother for her encouragement and influence for helping him find success in his own talent.

Roy’s father was a union carpenter who built bridges and dams all over the southwest. His mother, Evangeline, was the household manager who became known after many years for her basketry particularly her plaques. She did many demonstrations for museums, tribal fairs and other public events.

Roy grew up in the small village and graduated from Sherman Indian Boarding High School, Riverside, California. Following high school, Roy attended the Institute of American Indian Art for a year and a half but left before graduating. His schooling emphasized painting, yet he had little luck selling them. Roy spent a year back on the reservation where he worked at the Hopi Guild Shop. He got married, moved to Phoenix, raised his family and started his gallery affiliations making and selling jewelry.

In the 20 years of his residence in Phoenix, Roy came to work for the Shades of the West Gallery, where he worked in the shop demonstrating and producing silver jewelry. Affiliations with Bob Gonzalez of the Robert Dean Gallery, and Gene Waddell provided Roy with silver, tools, and space to work.

Eventually, Roy began to enter shows for judging competition, and received his “first big break” in 1981 when a three dimensional silver maiden he made won Best of Division, Best of Classification, and Best of Show at the Heard Museum, Native American Art show in Phoenix. Roy has gone on to win national recognition for his silver. He is particularly known for his concha belts.

Roy makes his own stamping tools. He cuts masonry nails, uses steel rods that are round, rectangular, or square. They are cut into sections using a torch to anneal – to soften the metal – then a diamond burr to make 1/2 rounds & round tools. His stamps are made in large and small sizes. The steel tools are then hardened, tempered by heating them to red hot and quenching in cold water or oil. In this fashion, old tools can be reconditioned or new ones made.

Roy’s hallmark is a waterbug. When he first used the waterbug, people thought it was a cornstalk. He added the concentric circles to indicate the ripples on the water around the bug. A Water clan member similar to symbols painted on hunters kachinas.

Jewelry allows Roy to express who he is as a unique person. He is still at a point where he wants to learn. He says, “A true artist always wants to extend themselves to learn more and to experiment.” His main goal right now is to be more successful in his own art and to pass along his knowledge to a willing student.

Roy is experimenting with multiple colors of gold. Yellow, White, Green, and Peach-Pink are determined by different alloys. Roy usually buys gold out east in 24k sheet, wire and casting grain. A friend assists with the alloy process to 14 karat.

Be thankful if you own one of Roy’s creations. He does not have one himself exclaiming, “I can’t afford my own stuff!”

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