Published on February 3, 2013 by Casey
Tommy Singer (born 1940) is a Navajo silversmith who specializes in chip-inlay jewelry. His inlaid turquoise, coral, and silver pieces incorporate traditional Navajo designs. Singer gained acclaim as the originator of the chip inlay design which he developed in the 1970s.
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Singer is a member of the Navajo Nation from Winslow, Arizona. He perfected his craft working on the Navajo reservation in a small studio surrounded with his family and other tribal members.
He grew up on the Navajo Reservation and was taught silversmithing by his father, beginning at the age of seven. In the 1960s he invented the “chip-inlay” technique of using turquoise or coral chips in this silverwork. This technique has become widespread in his community. He also used stamps and work in overlay.
When asked about his work, Singer said,”Every piece is made with the various meanings from my traditional ways – the Navajo way of living. My father was a silversmith, too. He taught me, and wanted me to continue this trade. It was my father’s dream that I learn to silversmith so that I could continue his beliefs.”