Offered here are some incredible and iconic pieces of tufa cast jewellery by Hopi artist Steve Wikviya Larance. Steve recently held a reception for his collection at Indianica. Each piece of jewellery is signed with the artist's name and Hopi sun design. We have sold many of his pieces since, and only a few are left!
Tufa cast sterling silver is done by pouring molten silver into a carved design or depression done in tufa stone. Tufa is a very soft, chalk-like material that only a few pieces can be produced using the same carving, as heat eventually cracks the stone. Each silver item must then be individually hand finished using files, sandpaper and a polishing wheel. This is a very time consuming and exhausting process (Savvy Collector,).
Tufa stone is a type of limestone which forms in close proximity to bodies of water with a high content of dissolved minerals, especially calcium carbonate. There are a number of uses for tufa, ranging from construction to artwork, and it is also interesting to view in situ. Tufa, incidentally, is not the same thing a stuff, a form of rock formed from volcanic ash, although the two rocks have many similar uses.
This stone tends to be soft and extremely porous. The porous nature of tufa makes it very popular for planters, as it will easily drain, rather than trapping water. Tufa can also be used as a sculpture medium, and it is used by some jewelers as a casting medium. To cast with tufa stone, jewelers and other metalworkers carve the desired shape into the rock, commonly forming a two-piece mold, and then pour hot metal into the mold. Although tufa is soft, it can handle high heat, so it will not crack or distort when used as a mold (S.E. Smith).
Internationally renowned master Hopi jeweler, Steve Wikviya Larance has won many awards for his unique Tufa Cast Jewelry at many prestigious shows including Eitljorg Museum Indian Market (Indianapolis, IN), the Heard Museum Art Market (Phoenix, AZ) and Santa Fe Indian Market (Santa Fe, NM). His work has been shown in many museums as well, including; The Vancouver Museum (Vancouver, BC), The Linden Museum (Stuttgart, Germany) and the National Museum of the American Indian, (Washington, DC). Steve's jewelry was also included in a traveling show which visited many museums called "Totems to Turquoise" in 2006-2008. He was also selected as a Smithsonian Artist Fellow for the National Museum of the American Indian in 2007.
Visit us online, or stop by the gallery today to see more examples of Hopi, Zuni and Navajo jewellery