J 1091 Philander Begay
Sterling silver tufa cast spider ring by Navajo silversmith Philander Begay. The body of the spider is a Bisbee turquoise. Size 9
The Bisbee mine, located near Bisbee, Arizona is one of the most famous mines in America. Bisbee Turquoise is known for its hard, beautiful blue stone that has unique matrix. The matrix is sometimes dark brown or a red/brown spiderweb. Bisbee turquoise can range in color from a pale blue to the more high quality dark blue that it is known for.
Tufa casting is a technique of pouring molten silver into a tufa stone mold and letting it harden into a given form. The mold is only used once; therefore each item is an original piece.
Philander Begay, born 1982, has been an active silversmith since 2002. He learned the art of making jewelry from his brother, Darryl Begay, and his uncle Bobby Begay. In 2007 Philander won the prestigious Artists Choice Award at Indian Market in Santa Fe. His tufa cast work is a favorite of collectors.
About the artist
Philander Begay, born 1982, has been an active silversmith since 2002. He learned the art of making jewelry from his brother, Darryl Begay, and his uncle Bobby Begay. “My brother has taught me, and also my uncle Bobby Begay has shown me things. Bobby was Darryl’s teacher, he worked in the traditional style. Bobby was taught by Timmy Begay who was a student of Kenneth Begay.”
Philander was influenced by Darryl Begay, Raymond Yazzie, Aaron Anderson, Preston Monongye, Jesse Monongye to name a few. He is especially noted for his true tufa casting: carving semi-solid sandstone, and then pouring molten silver in the fragile mold to create bracelets, buckles, bolo ties and pendants that have exquisite detail. Each piece is truly one-of-a-kind because the tufa mold is extremely friable and degrades after one casting.
In 2007 Philander won the prestigious Artists Choice Award at Indian Market in Santa Fe. His tufa cast work is a favorite of collectors. Philander says “I grew up in Tuba City, which is very close to Hopi. My friend was Hopi and we spent alot of time at his home. That is where I get many ideas for my work. I show Pueblo scenes on many of my pieces, and also incorporate the many different Kachina Dances I saw there into my work.”
Philander is one of the youngest, talented artists doing tufa casting and In-lay work. His designs are always outstanding. Each one of his pieces has its own beauty of Navajo culture. He is among the new generation of amazingly accomplished, Navajo silversmiths who combine tradition with their own vision. In 2014, he won 1st of the class ribbon at the Heard Museum Show which is the second largest show in the world.