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The technique of most Hopi Silver jewelry is called Overlay.

Today one might look at Indian craft and recognize a combination or influences of different tribes and styles in the same piece of art, this is where the Hopi silversmith stands out, in his Silver Jewelry.

A distinct characteristic of Hopi Silver Jewelry making is the use of a technique called Overlay. The technique of overlay began in the late 1930's and 1940's. Overlay consist of two silver layers that are formed into flat pieces of the same shape. Designs are cut into the top piece with a Jewelry saw. The bottom piece is textured (the etching that you see) and oxidized with liver of sulphur, thus turning it the black color. The two pieces of Silver are then soldered together with the cut out designs on top. The designs are religious and secular, ranging from realistic to symbolic. Many Hopi Silver Jewelry designs are inspired from ancient sources.

The Hopi tribe organized the Hopi Arts and Crafts Silvercraft Cooperative Guild on Second Mesa in 1949. Pieces of Silver Jewelry are rarely signed by the artist but instead are stamped with the artist Hallmark. The Hallmark is often a clan, personal, or an animal symbol.

Visit Durango Silver Company's Silver Jewelry educational presentation for more information on Hopi Silver Jewelry.

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