Published on February 9, 2013 by Casey
Born in 1949 and raised in Seba Dalkai area, Fidel Bahe is the firstborn of eight children – two sisters and five brothers. Fidel began silversmithing at age 24, focussing on traditional Navajo designs with his own creative flair.
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In 1976, Preston Monongye took Fidel in as an apprentice and taught him the fundamentals and techniques to become a great jeweler. After 10 months of apprenticeship he showed his jewelry at Santa Fe Indian Market, winning ribbons for all of the pieces he entered.
The art of jewelry making was originally just a hobby for Fidel Bahe. After learning the basics of his craft, he apprenticed with Victor Beck and learned contemporary styling. Charles Loloma was also an inspiration and critic of his work, giving Fidel advice to help lead his art in a new direction.
While attending welding school Fidel met his close relative Wilson Jim who worked at Rocking Horse Ranch with Edison Smith. Jim and Smith taught Bahe the basics about traditional art and techniques including stamp work. During this time Fidel was inspired to put traditional designs back into his pieces.
Since then, Fidel has focussed on quality, consistency, uniqueness, and cultural and artistic values. Of the inspiration behind his imaginative work, he says “it hits you right between the eyes.”
Over the years, Fidel Bahe entered many pieces at Santa Fe Indian Market, winning ribbons every year until 1991 when he won three first- and two second-place ribbons before deciding not to return to the competition.
Fidel feels his pieces are seen as finished and refined traditional work in the first and second phases of Navajo jewelry.
After an accident that injured his eye, Fidel learned the art of natural horsemanship and training foals. He now spends equal time between the arts of jewelry and horsemanship. For Fidel, his two passions come together as one, each embracing the six keys — attitude, knowledge, tools, technique, time, and imagination.