Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Heard @ the Heard 2011: Tufa Cast Jewelry Design Duo Denipah-LaRance

When I think of ubertalented and genuinely nice, I think of the Denipah-LaRancesSteve Wikviya LaRance (from Moenkopi on the Hopi Reservation) and Marian Denipah (Diné--Navajo and Tewa--San Juan Pueblo Ohkay Owingeh) are the husband and wife jewelry design team that specializes in Tufa cast jewelry.  Tufa stone, a soft volcanic stone, is carved and used to create a cast for silver or gold with a truly distinctive look.  Denipah and LaRance both started making tufa cast jewelry more than 15 years ago and have become two of the most recognizable faces on the Native American art show circuit.

From dragonflies to crosses to corn, rain and water symbols, Denipah and LaRance create gorgeous works in silver and gold embellished with quality stones in traditional and contemporary styles.  While the recession has impacted their business, the artists are weathering the economic storm by using social media to market their work to collectors. They have also been going international in terms of where they show their work, participating in shows around the world in Japan, Germany and British Columbia.   With rising silver and gold prices also impacting their sales and ability to make a great deal of pieces, the Flagstaff, Arizona-based designers have decided to make quality, higher-priced pieces utlizing quality stones to appeal to higher-tiered collectors.

Courtesy Cirque du Soleil

The Denipah-LaRance household is full of talent. They have provided their children with an environment where they could learn painting, sculpture as well as jewelry-making and the kids have made the most of it.  They also have become accomplished dancers.  Their son Nakotah, age 21,  became a champion hoop dancer and is now a principal dancer in Cirque do Soleil's Native American-themed Totem, which is currently touring the United States.  He is also the poster child for the show.

Marian Denipah and Steve LaRance took the time from selling at the 53rd Annual Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair and Market in Phoenix to talk to me for my "Heard @ the Heard 2011" series. 

Watch my video interview with this dynamic design duo HERE:

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