One of the pioneering masters of Hopi jewelry, Victor Coochwytewa served in World War II, returning in 1946 with a Purple Heart. He was among the first to enroll in the training program taught by Paul Saufkie and Fred Kabotie and became one of its most successful graduates. To increase the contrast between the shiny top layer and the dark lower of his overlay patterns, he developed a new technique for oxidizing and texturing the background layer-an approach still used today.
Coochwytewa did not let becoming a renowned jeweler change him. “I work in the field during the morning and do silversmithing in the afternoon. Then I work again in the field in the evening. I have corn every year,” he says. “If you’re a man you have to have your corn. When you’re married, you have to work in the fields.” Coochwytewa remains as proud of his success as a farmer as he is of his art. “I’ve lived here all my life,” he says. “Corn is my work. Jewelry is my hobby.”