Mary Tafoya

Mary grew up in Santo Domingo Pueblo. Her background is in handmade turquoise work. She gained skill and learned the traditions of Santo Domingo jewelry by helping her parents string and design traditional jewelry.

Mary’s jewelry has evolved from traditional Santo Domingo turquoise heishi and “Depression Era” work to a contemporary multi-colored mosaic style. Using natural stones shells, and turquoise, she creates free-form inlay designs. No two pieces are alike because each stone, shell or turquoise is cut to fit a design out of Mary’s imagination. She tries to find different types and colors of stones an unusual shapes of shell, then cuts them at different angles to get the desired look. She also uses different colors of turquoise from different areas of the country or world in a single piece to create varying colors of blue and green. Lately, Mary has been using silver filings to create a “glitter” look.

Mary says, “Sometimes I don’t know what a piece will look like until it’s finished. My pieces have fooled many of my customers and even seasoned art collectors. They ask, “How did you paint these designs?” When told that these are the natural colors of my materials and how they are intricately laid, they are amazed at the detail in my work. The patience required by my parents when I helped them with the family jewelry production helped me with numerous design ideas.”

Mary lives at Santo Domingo with her husband Lorenzo, also a jeweler and silversmith. They have four children.

Blue Zat Gems and Native People's Art Gallery | 600 Route 49 | Woodbine NJ 08270 Tel. 609.628.2976

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