Harrison Jim bracelet, buckle, and his handmade stamps Harrison Jim bracelet, buckle, and his handmade stamps

HarrisonJimAtCounter

Perry Null Trading:

Lets start with the basics, are you from Gallup?

Harrison Jim

I graduated from Gallup High School in 1988 and was born and raised here.

Perry Null

Did you go to college after graduation?

Harrison

I went to the Gallup Branch and studied Criminal Justice. I wanted to be a Police Officer, but I started doing jewelry fulltime and did not complete my studies.

Perry Null

So, how did you get involved with jewelry making?

Harrison

I was always interested in jewelry. My Aunt and Grandma who raised me always had very nice traditional jewelry. They also would weave rugs in the home, so I was always around art.

Perry Null

Would you help with the rugs?

Harrison

Yes, I was young when I first helped with carding the wool and dying. Also, we had sheep and I would have to heard them. Those experiences introduced me to being creative with my hands, and also influenced the pieces I make with rug designs.

Perry Null

When did you start making your own pieces of silver?

Harrison

When I was a Freshman I had a jewelry class with John Hall. That is what started my passion for jewelry making. I would have to be dropped off for school early and Mr. Hall would be there at 6:30, so I would go into his shop. That would allow me to finish projects early and then he would show me how to do other things not taught in class. He taught me electro plating, tufa casting, cutting cabs, just about anything you can think of.

Perry Null

Was everything easy for you?

Harrison

My Grandma had a very technical approach to weaving rugs. I took that training and applied it to jewelry making, I am very technical about measuring everything out before I begin my project.

Perry Null

Besides Mr. Hall, did you have any teachers for jewelry making?

Harrison

My jewelry making allowed me to meet people that would influence my styles and techniques. When I was in school we had an art show at the local mall and Mr. Hall introduced me to McKee Platero, who I would meet again. Sold my first piece at that show, a pin for $14.

Perry Null

Now, you are finished with high school, do you start selling jewelry for a living?

Harrison

I got a job working for First American Traders as a buffer, and was also doing the criminal justice courses at the Gallup Branch.

Perry Null

You are not a Police Officer, so when did you go fulltime artist?

Harrison

It was a process. One evening I went with some buddies to Navajo silversmith’s Tommy Jackson’s workshop. He asked me what I did and then told me he always need good buffers.

Perry Null

Sounds like you did a lot of silver buffing in the beginning?

Harrison

(smiles) There is a real art to buffing and I was very good at it. I didn’t have anything else going on so I would be at Tommy’s workshop all the time buffing and he eventually gave me other stuff to do. He would have me cutout his rug designs and before I knew it I was making entire pieces for him.

Perry Null

Is that where you learned how to do inlay?

Harrison

Mr. Hall had showed me how to inlay, but working for Tommy definitely had an influence on my early inlay pieces. Tommy was getting ready for a show and had some Number Eight cabs and I asked him what he was going to make. He was running out of tie and probably would not get to them. I asked if I could make something and worked non-stop until I was finished. It was a revival style piece that he sold to Michael Martin Murphy’s mother at the Indian Market.

Perry Null

You had mentioned earlier that McKee Platero had an influence on your work, how did that happen?

Harrison

McKee came by Tommy’s workshop and bought some stamps. After that I started to hang out with him and would stay down at his place and watch him make his silver.

Perry Null

Did you talk about techniques and design?

Harrison

McKee comes from a long line of silversmiths like I do. We would talk about lots of stuff related to Navajo silver.

Perry Null

Who was the first to start making jewelry in your family?

Harrison

My Great Grandpa made jewelry who dates back to Fort Sumner. His original name was Shin, which means dark in Navajo. The whites changed that to Navajo Jim, that is where my last name comes from.

Perry Null

You are one of the most talented artists we have come in the Trading Post, but for the most part you remain an unknown, why?

Harrison

I make jewelry for a living, I am passionate about it and do it the old ways. However, I make pieces daily and never make that piece that takes a long time to make, or do shows to promote myself. Hopefully, I will begin to do more of that, get ahead and make some incredible art.

Perry Null

Is jewelry your only medium?

Harrison

I would like to expand into larger sculptor pieces, maybe some furniture.

Perry Null

You talked about the old way, what do you mean?

Harrison

I do not buy fabricated sheet, and I make my own tools.

Perry Null

Could you walk me through making a piece of your revival style silver?

Harrison

Step 1 – Gather up scrap silver.

Step 2 – Melt scrap silver and pour into an ingot.

Step 3 – Heat the ingot and hammer it into the shape you want.

Step 4 – Once it is thin enough put it thru the silver roller to give it an equal thickness.

Step 5 – Layout the silver, squaring it and centering the stone.

Step 6 – Edge – creating by chasing tools, use the stamp and chisel creating the design.

Step 7 – Clean it, making sure every thing is even.

Step 8 – Give it a final border stamp.

Step 9 – Clean again.

Step 10 – Re-chase the edges.

Step 11 – Flip it over and dome it out against logs I have cut.

Step 12 – Sand it, get rid of the scriber lines used for measuring it.

Step 13 – Polish, and this is very little if the prior cleaning process was good.[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Y--B_k_iUk[/embed]

Perry Null

Thanks, whats next for you?

Harrison

Creating new things, getting better at the things I already make.



Available art from: Jim, Harrison