1984 to Present
Cluster and Stampwork
Charley, Matthew - Martinez, Calvin - Rangel, Ernest
FIRST YEAR MAKING ART:
Lets talk family, your wife?
Her name is Karen, it is Calvin Martinez’s younger sister.
I knew you were related somehow to him, do you have lots of relatives that do silver work?
My brother is Ernest Rangel, and you know that their are lots of brothers and sisters to Calvin. Other than that, no, just lots of silversmiths that I know and have a good relationship with.
Where did you grow up?
Thoreau, I graduated from high school there in 1987.
Did you play any sports?
I played basketball.
What position and was your team any good?
I am 5’ 8” and played center and forward, so not your traditional size basketball team. We did ok, 2nd or 3rd place in district while I was in high school.
How about children?
I have three girls and 1 boy.
Are any of them going to follow in your footsteps?
My oldest daughter, Mykaiah who is eleven won a blue ribbon in last years (2010) Inter-Tribal Ceremonial for a piece of 3D art she made using a box and paper. They didn’t have a category for her work, something they had never had before, so it was the first year. My son Matthew is going to school at UNM and makes pieces when he has time, probably around 20 pieces now.
How did Matthew get involved in silver?
A couple of years ago he started helping me in the shop. He would do stuff like cutting out, buffing, and adding drops when I needed help. Now he tries to make his own style, not wanting to do the work in my style.
When did you start making jewelry?
In 1984 I started helping my mom, Nellie Charley. She was a piece worker and would do work for Thunderbird. She would get orders like 200 bracelets at a time and I would help her.
What would you do for her?
I was like Matthew, would help her cutout, buff, and whatever else she needed me to do.
So, it was your mother who taught you how to make silver?
Yeah, she taught me what I know. When I first went out on my own, about 9 years after beginning with my mom, the jewelry I made had lots of her style in my work.
What is the hardest thing to learn?
Soldering. It is because it is all by eye, you don’t know the temperature. If your silver is to hot you will just melt the solder and the other design of the piece. If it is not hot enough you get large clumps of solder on your work. It is all by trial and error.
Once you went out on your own,who were your first buyers?
I would go out on the road and sell in places like Taos and even make the trip to see Bill Malone at Hubbell’s Trading Post, those were my first buyers.
What was your early signature piece?
I did lots of ranger buckles, all silver and cluster.
I always think of you making really different stuff, like a flashlight, airplanes, just stuff you don’t expect to see in silver, what is the inspiration there?
I just want to make something different, things you don’t see. My favorite things are the large bugs I make, I have lots of fun doing those.
Has the current high price of silver changed what you do?
Yeah, I don’t make many big pieces. Over the last couple of years things tripled in cost.