Steven J Begay

Steven J Begay

Perry Null Trading:

How long have you & Kari been together?

Steven J Begay:

We have been together for 34 years.

Perry Null Trading:

How did you get involved in working silver?

Steven J Begay:

I was at Fort Wingate School and the silver workshop needed some help. A silversmith left them so they brought me in and I started working on silver. That is where I learned the basics, solder work and stamping.

Perry Null Trading:

How long did you work for them?

Steven J Begay:

I worked for them two weeks, then went to Holbrook and started doing work for a shop there, owned by Darrell Parker. He was paying me $20 for one bracelet, that was much more than in Wingate.

Perry Null Trading:

How long did you work for Darrell Parker?

Steven J Begay:

When I was in Holbrook I met Kari. She worked at a dry cleaning shop there, that is where I took my shirts. After a couple of years in Holbrook, we left for Phoenix in 1977.

Perry Null Trading:

Did you continue working on silver there?

Steven J Begay:

I worked for Al Zuni in Phoenix. He paid me by the hour and I was making better money. While I was there I worked on everything, and lots of gold.

Perry Null Trading:

What made you come back to the Winslow area?

Steven J Begay:

We applied for a house there from the Navajo Housing Authority and received the paperwork that it was going to go through, we came back in 1987.

Perry Null Trading:

When you went out on your own what made you decide to do overlay work?

Steven J Begay:

I was going to the Native American Church and you had lots of symbols in the Church. Things like fans, peyote buttons, and starburst were being used. I would incorporate this into my jewelry.

Perry Null Trading:

What kind of reaction did you initially get from your work?

Steven J Begay:

Buyers would not want to pay real high for it. I just kept doing the overlay style and eventually it began to be really good.

Perry Null Trading:

What was your first big break?

Steven J Begay:

I would take my work to Ken Osborne in Sedona. He had a friend at the Heard Museum in Phoenix and told him about me. I received an application in the mail and filled it out. That was for the 1988 Heard Museum Native American Art Show.

Perry Null Trading:

How did you do at your first show?

Steven J Begay:

I won best in category for an all silver belt. The same thing happen to me in 1996 when I was at the Indian Market in Santa Fe for the first time, a first place ribbon for a squash blossom and a best in division for a concho belt. At the Navajo Nation Fair I won the Navajo Nation Vice President award for my art the first time I entered.

Perry Null Trading:

Do people find you for jewelry?

Steven J Begay:

Yes, I have had Japanese customers come to my house. They will ask people in my area where I live and everyone knows me so they tell them. Also, people from Australia and other parts of the United States. I tell them to go see Perry Null (laughs). I was invited to go to Japan and do a demonstration and sell my work, but I decided not to go.

Perry Null Trading:

Do you remember your most favorite piece you made?

Steven J Begay:

It was a all silver sqaush blossom, it was great. I sold it in 1999 to a Trader in Gallup.

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