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Aaron Anderson

Posted on August 15, 2014 by Jason There have been 0 comments

Aaron Anderson and a bracelet tufa negative Aaron Anderson and a bracelet tufa negative
Introduction
Navajo artist Aaron Anderson is lots of things, but if you had to use one word to describe him I would say “real” works perfectly. This is one guy that doesn’t shy from telling you exactly what he thinks. Also he has an innate way of explaining his design as if he was a teacher to a student knowing every detail of his work. Aaron is not afraid to have his work sit next to the “big names” of tufa art, in fact he welcomes to have his unique designs, innovation, and creativity judged with the best.
Perry Null Trading
We have talked in the past about the Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial. You seem to really care about this annual event? 
Aaron Anderson
It is the place where my work was really first noticed. In 2003 I won a blue-ribbon for “Best in Metal Smithing”. This was my first show. 
Perry Null Trading
Do you do other shows? 
Aaron Anderson
The last couple of years the Navajo Nation Fair has been putting up big prize money, and that has brought lots of well-known Navajo artists to the event. I have been doing the Navajo Nation show the last couple of years, it is easy being so close to home and it is my Nation. 
Perry Null Trading
How about the big shows?
Aaron Anderson
I don’t do Santa Fe or Phoenix. I would like to see the Inter-Tribal regain some past glory and be the show all the top artists go to. 
Perry Null Trading
What changes does the Gallup Inter-Tribal need to make to bring back the top artists? 
Aaron Anderson
The Navajo Nation offers big prize money and that is why they are getting top artists. That would be a great place to start, more money for the winners at Inter-Tribal. Also, many artists in the past would have a booth on the Ceremonial grounds, and now those booths are t-shirts and other tourists items, they need to go back to the artists. It used to be the main show, all the greats brought their work to be judged. It was a big deal to be the “Best of Show”. I am trying to talk some artists I know to come back. 
Bracelet design initial sketch Bracelet design initial sketch
Finished bracelet with tufa negative in background Finished bracelet with tufa negative in background
Perry Null Trading
You won a blue-ribbon in 2003. When did you start making jewelry? 
Aaron Anderson
I started helping my uncles’ Wilford Henry (WHB) and Wilson Begay in 1991.
Perry Null Trading
Did you know you would always make jewelry? 
Aaron Anderson
It has always been around me, my parents made jewelry, lots of my relatives make jewelry, it just seemed an easy transition. However, my father told me to go to college when I asked him about making silver. 
Perry Null Trading
Did you go to school? 
Aaron Anderson
Yeah, I studied civil engineering and use some of those skills in my approach to jewelry making. 
Perry Null Trading
Back to 1991, how long before you went out on your own? 
Aaron Anderson
I had spent some time going to shows with my cousins, Ira & Gary Custer, and would see these artist talk about tufa jewelry. Most of the stuff I would see was just sandcast, and immediately I knew I wanted to learn to do tufa. You can’t change design with sandcasting and I had so many different ideas of what I wanted to make. In 1997 I went out on my own and started doing some different things. 
Perry Null Trading
How did you go from sandcast to tufa cast? 
Aaron Anderson
I talked with my dad and he gave me the basic knowledge. He also showed me a tufa stone, and how to tell the difference between stones. 
Perry Null Trading
What would be differences? 
Aaron Anderson
I like to use a medium-hard stone, it seems to hold the design better for me. You have really soft stones that give the work that grainy look. Hard stones will let you give the work lots of detail, I usually wet this type of stone, this makes it easier to carve. 
Perry Null Trading
How does it work, from the start to finish of a piece of your jewelry.
Aaron Anderson
Begins with an addiction to design. I will get up in the morning and start to draw a concept on paper. That will lead to a sketch that I place on a tufa stone. 
Perry Null Trading
How do we go from a rough sketch to a piece of your silver that has very precise lines? 
Aaron Anderson
I will use straight edges and squares, plus I modify lots of my knifes so I can get different depths and angles. Other artists always ask me about my modifications, which are very different compared to the basic tools. That is how I get the crisp detail of my work. 
Perry Null Trading
When you work with stones does that change your original idea? 
Aaron Anderson
Many times I will set that stone down on the paper and then draw my design as an outline. It is the change that keeps me motivated. 
Perry Null Trading
Thank you Aaron, we look forward to seeing you at the Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial? 

Available art from: Anderson, Aaron