Kirk Smith

Kirk Smith

Perry Null Trading:

How did you get started making jewelry?

Kirk Smith:

My grandfather made jewelry and began teaching me in the 1960s. He kept his workshop away from the house and was very secretive about it. In a canyon away from their hogan he had dug out the earth, and then placed brush and tree limbs over the top. This his the workshop, and you would not see it unless you knew it was there.

Perry Null Trading:

What would you do for your Grandfather?

Kirk Smith:

At first I helped him with soldering. I would use the bellow used to heat the charcoal to a high tempature while my grandfather worked with the jewelry over the heat. After that I remember working with bracelets, beads, and necklaces.

Perry Null Trading:

Did your Grandparents raise you?

Kirk Smith:

I stayed with them until I was around 9 years old. Than I went to live with my Mother in Crownpoint.

Perry Null Trading:

Did you continue to work with jewelry?

Kirk Smith:

I would make cast pieces for my Uncle Johnny. He would pay me by getting me clothes and shoes. I did this for about four years.

Perry Null Trading:

After working for your uncle did you stop making jewelry?

Kirk Smith:

Around 1972 I went out on my own. Started making my first pieces and would sell to Gilbert Ortega. The work was all silver, and was sand cast work. However, when silver got high around1974 I stopped making jewelry and went to work for the mine. I did lots of different stuff, even worked for a refinery around Galveston. Did these different jobs for the rest of the 1970s.

Perry Null Trading:

So it is the 1980s and you are making jewelry again, what brought you back?

Kirk Smith:

My mother had gotten sick and I wanted to be around her.

Perry Null Trading:

What did you do different this time?

Kirk Smith:

My sister was married to Harry Morgan, and he really taught me how to design a piece. Before I never really paid much attention to the style, that changed because of Harry. He also had a big name and was well known, I wanted to be one of those people. My Grandfather told me, “when you leave something here you name will always be here”.

Perry Null Trading:

Lots of people know your name, is that still what keeps you motivated?

Kirk Smith:

Now I try to give back to my people. I taught some of the Martinez family, Fred Brown, Dean Brown, and Anthony Skeet to name a few. Hoping that they can in return take care of their families. Our family meets every Saturday to see if we can get money together to help different families. People know that our family does this and they come to us with their problems. After that we see if we can raise the money they need. That is why we are thankful for the traders and tourist, because we get the majority of our money when we sell our jewelry.

Perry Null Trading:

You do this through the family, not church?

Kirk Smith:

I am more traditional, we do this by ourselves to help our people.

Perry Null Trading:

Thanks, any thing new from you in the future?

Kirk Smith:

I will always change, more design in my pieces.

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