As a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, I am constantly seeking out knowledge of my tribe’s history and culture. My art work is a way for me to explore the world of my ancestors. By interpreting their designs into my own jewelry pieces, I am bringing their world view and visual language into my every life. The woodpecker is one of the symbols that I am particularly drawn to. It is found incised on pottery and engraved into shell gorgets from Moundville, the ancient mound city that the Chickasaw people are connected to. These designs are probably based off of the Ivory Billed Woodpecker which made the southeastern swamplands it’s home but is now feared to be extinct due to loss of habitat. The woodpecker appears in Chickasaw stories and is considered to be a guardian figure. You can view video of other Chickasaw artists and leaders discussing the significance of the woodpecker on ChickasawTV
I usually start the design process by drawing the piece to scale on graph paper and then rough carving the shapes into wax with files. The wax starts off as a solid sheet and is very hard to allow for intricate carving. I then continue to carve and add in detail with wax carving tools in a variety of tips. This piece took about 20 hours of carving.
The finished wax (above) is then cast in silver through the lost wax process. The silver piece is then molded so that multiples can be made in different types of metals. The finished bracelet is cast in silver or in bronze with a rose gold plating. It is set with a bright turquoise colored amazonite and is attached to a band of woven leather.