Teddy Goodluck Sr comes from a family of artists. His father Tom Goodluck ranched and made silver for a living. His grandfather Hosteen Goodluck was very important in the early years of Navajo silver and is credited with being instrumental in making this a “path” for so many artists. However, Teddy didn’t start making jewelry until he was in his thirties, but with it so rich in his blood and was going to happen.
Teddy Goodluck Sr
1981 to Present
FIRST YEAR MAKING ART:
What year were you born?
Did you know your Grandfather?
No, I don’t remember him. He might have been around when I was a baby but I don’t remember.
When did you start making jewelry?
In 1971, I was 34 years old.
That seems like a late start, coming from a family of silversmiths?
After I graduated from Sanders in 1958 I went to work for the Silica Sand company. I was the foreman there for 3 1/2 years.
That doesn’t get us to the 1970s, what did you do after that?
I went to work for the clay mine, same company just a different location. Instead of mining for sand we mined for clay that was used in medicine and cosmetics.
How long did you work for them?
For 10 1/2 years, then my wife told me it was time to come home. I was having the wrong influence in my life and needed to get away from that environment.
So, this is when you start making jewelry?
I was home and really didn’t know what I was going to do. At the clay mine I had learned lots of skills. There I did a little bit of everything: welding, heavy equipment, just an all-around position. One day I was listening to the radio while working on my 58 Pick-up truck and an advertisement for a silversmith class in Gallup came on the radio.
Didn’t you already know how to make jewelry?
My dad, Tom Goodluck, and uncles William & Frank made jewelry for a living. I always remember seeing them work and the type of stuff they made, but I had never made any jewelry.
So you went to a class in Gallup?
Yes, it was at the Indian Center, which is gone now. It was taught by Ben Touchine. The first night we just listened and by the second night I realized I knew how to do all of these things from watching my dad and uncles, plus my work experiences that we went back home.
How did you start your silver career?
I got my last check from the clay mine and took it and bought a torch and tools I needed. Plus my mother had old tools that she gave me to use, I still have them.
What do you make?
My grandma had this very simple bracelet with one piece of turquoise surrounded by twist wire and stamp work, I copied it.
Where did you sell your first piece?
We took it to Turneys’ and sold it for $12, that was when silver was around $2 an ounce. He ordered more from us and that kept us busy.
How many of these bracelets were you making?
We were making 10 – 12 of these bracelets a day.
Who does what?
Rebekah does the stamping, bezel, and design. I do the cutting and soldering, and we both do the polishing.
Now that you are making jewelry is this your fulltime job?
I was a Grazing Committee Member for the Navajo Tribe, 20 years. I had the area from Lupton to Chambers and would be responsible for the health of the livestock, immunizations, and grazing policies. This kept me busy in the summers, but I was still able to do jewelry.
Besides Turneys’, who else did you make jewelry for?
We did some work for Don Jacobs at Burntwater, Garcia who had stores in New Mexico, Arizona, and California, Jay’s Indian Art which became Thunderbird Supply. Whoever was buying.
How about your hallmark, the four leaf clover?
When we first started making jewelry we didn’t use a hallmark. Our buyers started to tells to use a hallmark in the mid 70s, so we used a TG. Then I was thinking about our hallmark at a Pow-Wow in Flagstaff and just thought to use the four leaf clover, goodluck for Goodluck. We started using this new hallmark in the early 1980s.
Do you have a memorable piece from all the jewelry you made?
A bracelet made for my mother. It had this amazing piece of Persian Turquoise that had this spider web matrix, a big rock. I am always trying to find that bracelet, just seemed to disappear.
Are you doing shows now, or just selling to your longtime dealers?
We do a couple of shows a year at the Painted Desert. They have big tour buses come in and we do a jewelry making display.
Are the people from all over?
Yes, the best tours are from Japan and Germany, they really buy lots of stuff. One time I had a lady sit with me all day while I made jewelry, she said she just had to learn.