Published on February 11, 2013 by Casey
The classic Navajo jewelry designs of Thomas Curtis reflect his upbringing in a family of talented silversmiths. Both of his grandfathers were silversmiths, and with their encouragement, Thomas Curtis to began crafting traditional Navajo jewelry at only 12 years old. Today, his heavy-gauge silver jewelry speaks to collectors who value skillful silverwork with precise hand-tooled details.
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His deep-rooted respect for his craft has earned Thomas Curtis many awards for his Navajo jewelry and impeccable sterling silver boxes. Since his first year at Santa Fe Indian Market in 1984, he has won countless ribbons including Best of Division, First, Second, and Third Place awards.
Thomas Curtis remembers his grandmother once telling him, “You can make it with your vision, your mind, and your 10 fingers. Everything is right here in your hands.” Her inspiration has proven true, as he still creates all his own die sets (stamping tools), which make the patterns on his jewelry uniquely his.
Despite his reputation as one of the industry’s premier silversmiths, Thomas Curtis lives a traditional life on the Navajo reservation, where he finds inspiration for his jewelry by “looking at the ground, the sky, the plants, and the four seasons.” He is proud of his days as a champion rodeo rider, and feels blessed to have shared his craft with his children and grandchildren.
Today, the traditions he learned from his grandparents live strong in Thomas Curtis’ family. His daughter, Jennifer Curtis, has a following for her exquisite Navajo jewelry and boxes, with skillful silversmithing techniques that have been passed on through generations. He said, “When my kids picked up my work, that was real encouraging to me because it means the traditions are going to go on.”