This exceptional Necklace showcases a Tufa Cast Kingman Turquoise and Sterling Silver Pendant by Navajo artist Merle House, made in Gallup, New Mexico. House crafted the Pendant by carving a mold into tufa stone,* then filling the mold with molten silver. This traditional design technique is practiced by only a few experienced artists and is very labor intensive, but the results are impressive. The finished design is imprinted with texture from the stone, producing a unique finish. The Pendant features a near-round Kingman Turquoise Stone, which is sky blue with traces of golden brown matrix. The piece has detailed geometric patterning, which has been lightly oxidized to bring the patterns into high relief. The Pendant Bail has been handcrafted out of heavyweight Sterling and has been stamped to complement the overall design. The back of the Pendant is stamped with the artist's hallmark, "M H." We've paired the Pendant with 3 Strands of 6mm Labradorite Rounds. The Labradorite is semi-translucent and is silvery in color with sparkling traces of iridescent blue. The Labradorite is spaced with blue Turquoise Heishi and blue Czech Glass Discs, picking up the tones in the Pendant. The Stones are highlighted by six 15.5mm Stamped Sterling Rondelles handcrafted by Navajo artist Mabel Gray, along with six 6mm leaf-printed Sterling Rondelles. The Necklace is finished with Sterling Silver Cones and Toggle Clasp and adorned with a Southwest Designs Sterling Charm. The piece weighs 122 grams and is 21 inches long plus the Pendant, which is 2-3/4 inches by 1-inch plus the 11-1/6-inch Bail.
*Tufa stone is compressed volcanic ash material. Its porous surface leaves a unique texture on cast sterling silver once the metal has cooled. To cast, a tufa stone of the desired size is first cut into 2 halves, and the halves are rubbed together to create a flush surface. A cone shaped hole – called a sprue hole – is carved at the top of the mold to allow the metal to be poured in. Additional holes are carved along the sides of the mold to allow air to escape. The artist then carves their design into the flat surface on one side of the mold, carbonizes the mold, and tightly binds the two halves together with clamps. Sterling silver is melted with a torch and poured through the sprue hole into the tufa mold. Once cooled, the silver is taken out of the mold and the artist will sand and clean the design, making sure to leave the texture created by the tufa stone. The last step is to shape the metal into its desired form. Typically the tufa stone mold can be used just once, so every piece is one-of-a-kind.