LesterJames

Perry Null Trading

Last year (2013), you were awarded Honorable Mention for an inlay bracelet at the Navajo Nation Fair. That was considered the third best piece of art. Is this the first time your work had been in a judged show?

Lester James

No, in 2012 I did the lapidary work on a piece called “Starry Night” with Aaron Anderson that won first place at the Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial. My first win was the Navajo Nation Fair in 2005.

Perry Null Trading

Ok, so you won an award nine years ago. Your work is relatively new to me, when did you begin?

Lester James

I graduated from high school in 1994 and was looking for work. The Nugget Gallery hired me and that was where I would learn inlaying.

Perry Null Trading

Before Nugget Gallery you had no jewelry making experience? No one in your family was an artist?

Lester James

My auntie did silver beadwork. She would teach me the basics, soldering and buffing. I always needed (wanted) money in high school, and she would pay me good. So, I did have that experience before being hired at the Nugget Gallery.

Perry Null Trading

You are not doing any inlay yet, when did that begin?

Lester James

When I was hired at the Nugget Gallery, Ervin Tsosie, Wilbert Manning and his brother Wilson Manning we’re working there. I started to watch them and would practice inlaying at home. Eventually, I started getting a few pieces to inlay at work, simple stuff.

Perry Null Trading

Your aunt taught how to solder and buff, how did you learn to make the entire piece?

Lester James

A silversmith at the Nugget Gallery, Herman Hoskie was a good friend of mine and I would go to his workshop and get help. He took work home from the Nugget Gallery and was always in the shop.

Perry Null Trading

How long did you stay at the Nugget Gallery?

Lester James

About 10 years. I decided to go out on my own.

Perry Null Trading

How did that go?

Lester James

It went ok. I had developed some customers in Santa Fe, and another shop in town, Anasazi would give me work.

Perry Null Trading

That goes for how long?

Lester James

I met Aaron Anderson around 2009 and started working in his shop. I started to get a lot more work and was able to just concentrate on my own pieces.

Perry Null Trading

The pieces we get are tufa cast, is this something you learned from Aaron?

Lester James

Yeah, I would watch him and knew that I wanted to learn. I really enjoy drawing and you get to use that in tufa carving.

Perry Null Trading

Besides jewelry what do you do?

Lester James

I live south of town and have a couple of horses, I really enjoy riding them. When I was younger I did open show bull riding and like that lifestyle.

Perry Null Trading

Were you any good at bullriding?

Lester James

I won four buckles, but I knew it was only a matter of time before I got injured.

Perry Null Trading

Thank you, and we love your work.



Available art from: James, Lester