Watson Honanie creates jewelry of gold and silver overlay portraying Hopi culture and ceremonial life. Encouraged by two uncles, Porter Timeche and the late Fred Kabotie, both of whom were associated with the Hopi Silvercraft Guild, he began making jewelry at an early age. “They gave me scraps of silver so I could make small pieces, mostly earrings,” Honanie says.
He learned the overlay technique from his brother Phillip, and worked at the Silvercraft Guild for about 2 years before venturing out on his own. “In 1979, when the cost of silver got so high — $48 to $50 an ounce — I went back to using scraps, but not for making jewelry. I made small kachinas, about 4 inches tall, using the lost wax process and the melted silver scraps. I made these miniature kachinas for about a year, and then returned to jewelry.”
Although he has been making jewelry since 1972, it was not until 1985 that he started to work with gold. But today, he is noted for his gold work.
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