1980 to Present
Harrison Bitsue - HB
1980 to Present
Old Style Sandcast, Big Turquoise
FIRST YEAR MAKING ART:
How did you get involved with making jewelry?
I was born into it. My grandfather began teaching me when I was a little boy.
How long had your family been making jewelry?
My grandfather was Charlie Bitsue. He was always a silversmith, he can be found in some of the early books about Navajo jewelry. Trader C.G. Wallace gave him lots of work, he would make the silver housing for the Zuni inlayers.
Who else in your family is a silversmith?
My father Albert made jewelry, and many in my extended family make jewelry like Harry Morgan and Robert Chee.
Do you remember your first piece of jewelry?
When I was 7 I made my first cast pieces, they were rings and najas.
So you grew up at home on the Reservation?
In the summers, during the school year I went to Utah. The Mormons recruited kids from the Reservation to live with families in Utah. That way we could get better educations.
Did you like going off for school?
It was ok, but if I could do it again I would of rather stayed with my family and my culture.
So have you been busy with work?
It has been very busy, and I keep telling myself I am going to make some new designs. However, I can not find the time.
Do you use any of the old designs?
Yes, I still use designs my grandfather had.
Is this what you wanted to do as far as a working career?
My grandfather gave me advice when I was young, “silversmithing is like a savings account, it is going to help you one day.” I am happy with what I do and will pass it on to my children.