Ron Bedonie with one of his concho belts Ron Bedonie with one of his concho belts
Introduction

The concho belt is the artist’s masterpiece. No one starts as a silversmith by making a belt, but instead works and continues to learn until they become mastered in their craft. When you come across old pictures of one of the most famous Navajo silversmiths of all-time, Slender Maker of Silver, he seems to be most proud of his belts. Artists like Vernon Haskie & Perry Shorty make the concho belt the most collectible piece of their work. So, when Ron Bedonie showed up with his masterpiece we asked him to sit down for an interview.

Perry Null Trading

Do you come from a family of silversmiths, is that where you learned the craft?

Ron Bedonie

My late father John Bedonie Sr. was a silversmith. His father, my grandpa was also a silversmith. None of us had a hands on teacher, but would learn silversmithing from watching and doing.

Perry Null Trading

Did you grow up with silver being an important part of your early life?

Ron Bedonie

My father was a welder, part-time silversmith, so we moved around a lot for his work. I left boarding school at Jeddito, AZ in the 2nd grade when we moved to Phoenix, until the 7th grade.

Perry Null Trading

What was that like?

Ron Bedonie

Hot. We would come back to Jeddito to visit family and for longer periods in the summer. I would spend lots of time with my grandpa, as his sidekick. He wouldn’t ever let anyone watch him make silver but me.

Perry Null Trading

So you came back to Jeddito in the 7th grade, then what?

Ron Bedonie

We didn’t stay long. My father took a job in Salt Lake City and half of the year he came back to move us up there.

Perry Null Trading

Did you like Salt Lake City better than Phoenix?

Ron Bedonie

It was very nice. You had all four seasons there.

Perry Null Trading

Did anything change with becoming an artist?

Ron Bedonie

No, I was busy being a kid. My cousin Ricky showed me how to do beading and I would make some custom pieces in sell them a dealer in Salt Lake, the Teepee Gallery...

Perry Null Trading

What kind of beading?

Ron Bedonie

Glass beads, I would make belts, key chains & other beaded pieces.

Perry Null and Ron Bedonie Perry Null and Ron Bedonie with bolo tie
Perry Null Trading

Did you play any sports in school?

Ron Bedonie

Me and my cousin Ricky made this pole vault out of plastic conduit. That gave me an interest in the sport and they had it in Salt Lake school I attended.

Perry Null Trading

Were you good at it?

Ron Bedonie

Yes, I had the record at my school from the 8th grade through the 12th grade.

Perry Null Trading

That’s amazing, what was your top vault?

Ron Bedonie

14’ 9”.

Perry Null Trading

So we are finishing up high school, what happened next?

Ron Bedonie

I got married, moved to back to Phoenix and started working in construction. I would plaster homes. My brother introduced me to this work and it paid well.

Perry Null Trading

When did you start working silver?

Ron Bedonie

I took a job in Northern California doing plaster work with the same company I am with in Phoenix. This is when I bought a new pickup truck, a Isuzu Pup. That pickup truck payment began my jewelry career.

Perry Null Trading

The pickup is the start?

Ron Bedonie

I could afford the payments, this is around 1987 and I am back in Jeddito when my mother gives me a piece of silver to make something to sell.

Perry Null Trading

What did you make?

Ron Bedonie

A pendant, my mother sold my first piece of jewelry to a customer in Idaho.

Perry Null Trading

How does your jewelry making progress?

Ron Bedonie

My cousin’s brother Thomas Jim asked me to come and stay with him in Winslow to help him with his jewelry, buffing and other stuff. I was able to pick up stuff fairly quickly and begin making my own pieces.

Perry Null Trading

Were you going out and selling your work?

Ron Bedonie

Thomas told Gene Waddell to give me an order. He had me make a ranger set for him and he liked the work and gave me more orders. My early work was going to Gene.

Perry Null Trading

Did you go back to construction or make jewelry your full-time work?

Ron Bedonie

I have always gone back and forth. In 1993 I am in Las Vegas for a year working on the Excalibur Casino. I would come back and fill orders for Gene. Then in the early 2000's I spent around five years in Parachute, CO working as an electrician.

Perry Null Trading

When you were done in Colorado what were you doing?

Ron Bedonie

I came back to the Shiprock area and start filling lots of different orders.

Perry Null Trading

Who are some of the bigger influences on your work?

Ron Bedonie

Thomas Jim of course and I always liked my uncle’s style, Edison Sandy Smith.

Perry Null Trading

This belt is amazing, have you made many of these?

Ron Bedonie

I have made different belts. I understand Michael Jackson and Arnold Schwarzenegger have belts made by me.

Perry Null Trading

So, what does the future hold?

Ron Bedonie

I will continue to make jewelry and probably do a little construction work here and there.

Perry Null Trading

Thank you, for the interview and belt.



Available art from: Bedonie, Ron