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Navajo Inlay Jewelry

Working directly with Richard Tsosie, a leading contemporary (Diné [Navajo]) jeweler, you will design patterns and create colorful collages in semi-precious stones. You will learn how to operate lapidary equipment to cut, grind, and polish stones to set into the silver form of your choice, such as bracelets, pendants, belt buckles, and rings which you will create!

This summer we will offer two Navajo Inlay workshops that will allow for enthusiasts of all levels to join the workshop for up to two weeks! You may take one or both workshops allowing you extra time to work alongside Richard.

Tsosie will share techniques that had solidified him as one of the best Diné (Navajo) jewelers in the country, such as his trademark technique of granulation which was discovered by accident when he noticed silver filings were fusing onto a ring he was soldering. He calls the process that produces this granulated surface texture “fusion,” He has been perfecting the technique throughout his career. Safe use of lapidary equipment will be covered, and safety precautions followed when working with cutting materials and using chemicals. If you have no prior experience in metalsmithing, you will learn the basic techniques and concepts for shaping silver. If you are a returning student or have experience, you will expand your knowledge and conceptual jewelry-making approach.

Basic tools, equipment, solder, and compounds will be available for your use in class, so you are not required to purchase any new items for the workshop.

  • If you have your own tool kit, we encourage you to bring it. Hand tools: files, finer #4 cut, saw frame, hammers, pliers (round, flat, or needle nose), and any other basic tools you like to use. 
  • OptiVisor
  • Work lamp
  • Rough stones (for cutting in class)
  • Silver – Packets with pre-cut pieces of silver sheet and triangular wire will be available for sale for making an inlay bracelet in class. If you wish to bring your own sheet silver and wire, these are the specifications for one bracelet:
  • #3 wide triangular sterling silver wire (15” or more if large wrist)
  • 20 gauge silver sheet (3” wide, length depends on wrist size)
  • 22 or 24 gauge silver sheet (3” wide, length depends on wrist size)

Richard Tsosie (Diné [Navajo]) is a jeweler and sculptor from Flagstaff, Arizona, and the Wide Ruins area of the Navajo Nation and is currently living in Scottsdale, AZ. His work has been featured in American Indian Art Magazine, Arizona Highways, the video Beyond Tradition: Contemporary Indian Art and Its Evolution, and several books, including Southwestern Indian Jewelry by Dexter Cirillo and Enduring Traditions, Art of the Navajo by Jerry Jacka. His art is on permanent exhibition at The Smithsonian, The Heard Museum, The Museum of Us in San Diego, and The Museum of Northern Arizona. His artwork has been featured in the magazine Arizona Highways and photographed by renowned photographer Jerry Jacka.

Richard’s contemporary silver and hold work features fabrication, overlay, and granulation. He is also known for colorful inlay work with various natural stones and his fine degree of control and attention to detail. His designs are motivated by images of the natural world, particularly the Wide Ruins area of the reservation, where he spent a large part of his youth. Richard says of his work, “I am inspired by the colors of the mountains at sunset, the patterns of shadow and light that emerge at dawn, and the pinpoints of starlight against the black night sky.”

His pieces typically contain the symbol for lighting and an arrow pattern. The lightning stands for natural causes, while the arrowhead symbolizes man-made elements. Richard says the design represents the ups and downs of life. “Some things we can’t do anything about, and you should try to enjoy life to the fullest.”

He also explains that his designs represent the beauty of life. The arrows are things that come naturally, like lightning in the sky. There are ups and downs in life, as in his designs, which makes you strong.

Native American & Inland Empire Teacher Scholarships 

We recently made some changes to our scholarship application process.

Generous donors have made scholarships and fellowships for adult workshops available on a limited basis for these specific groups:

  1. Native American Community Leaders, Artists, Members, and Teachers
  2. Inland Empire Teachers, Professors, and Graduate Students

Scholarships include tuition, lab fee, dorm housing, and all meals provided by the campus dining service. We believe in allowing everyone a chance to experience the transformative power of art at Idyllwild Arts. In order to reach as many as possible with this opportunity we are happy to extend each applicant one scholarship. These scholarships are designed to provide access to arts based educational opportunities that will advance your personal and professional development as well as the Indigenous community(ies) you come from. You are responsible for paying the $50 application fee and transportation to and from campus. A short essay (200 to 750 words) expressing how this opportunity will benefit you and your community is required, we want to hear from you! We also ask that you provide screenshots of your last two W2s so that the scholarship committee can identify financial need and assess the scholarship amount to be offered. We are pleased to offer scholarships in two categories.

  • Full Scholarship: students receive meals, housing, and tuition and lab fee (room and board if applicable).
  • Half Scholarship: students receive approximately half off their tuition (room and board if applicable)

For more detailed information and a Scholarship FAQ please read Adult Scholarships FAQs.

Scholarship Details: 

  1. Native American Community Members, Leaders, Artists, and Teachers
    For adults 19 and older with current tribal affiliation, the scholarship brings community leaders, artists, members, and teachers to workshops at Idyllwild Arts to benefit both the scholarship recipients themselves and those in their schools or tribal communities. Applicants who demonstrate financial need may receive priority. We also offer scholarships for Native American Teens for both the Summer Program and the Academy.
  2. Inland Empire Teachers, Professors, and Graduate Students
    For teachers and graduate students from the Inland Empire (Riverside and San Bernardino Counties and the adjacent areas), this scholarship brings teachers and graduate students to Idyllwild Arts to attend Native American Arts workshops. The Native American Arts Workshops benefit both recipients and their students and communities, providing culturally appropriate instruction and professional development to teachers and graduate students. Applicants with financial needs may receive priority. These scholarships are made possible through the generous support of the San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians.

Click here for more information about adult scholarships.

Age: 19 years and above

June 19-23, 2023
June 26-30, 2023

Tuition, room, and board: $1,719

Day student tuition: $840

Lab Fee: $45, includes the use of all tools, equipment, and consumables such as solder and compounds; you may be asked to bring additional materials.

Skill Level: All levels, basic experience with silver is helpful

Enrollment is limited to 12 students.

Faculty: Richard Tsosie

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