Anthony Lovato, from Santo Domingo Pueblo, specializes in silver and gold tufa-cast jewelry. He is a graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. Though the art of casting is old, Lovato approaches it in a contemporary manner. He takes great advantage of his chosen medium, creating large, bold pieces— bracelets pendants, and “Spirit Pins,” ancient-looking figures set with a single. striking piece of stone or shell and sometimes accented with gold. He first tried casting about 20 years ago, and has been a full-time jeweler for the past 12 years. He likes tufa casting because it allows, him to use. a full range of creative techniques: drawing, carving, and silversmithing.
“The gold and silver jewelry I make really starts and comes from mother earth,” Lovato says. ‘I get my tufa sandstone 300 miles away on.the Hopi Reservation in Arizona. I, bring rough sandstone blocks back home to Santo Domingo, where I cut them into matched square slabs of different sizes. To make a bracelet, the slab is about 8 x 4 x 2 inches. The whole design has to be done backwards. To keep the two slabs together during the pouring, I wrap, a piece of cloth around them. The melted silver is poured into the sprue or opening at the top; gravity takes it down into the carved out spaces. After cooling, in about five minutes, the design becomes a positive image in silver, with the sand grains as natural texture. Parts of the sandstone break off when the slabs are pulled apart, so cast pieces are one-of-a-kind. Also, I put a story into each piece of jewelry so it is really unique. It takes from three to ten days to complete a piece of jewelry.
“Most of my jewelry designs go back to nature,” Lovato continues. “They include animal designs, track patterns, petroglyph patterns of hunts and other pueblo life. The corn design I use is one of my favorites. Having corn for survival goes back a long way among the pueblos. The flute player, Kokopelli, brings harmony and growth to my work, as does the carving of eagles and other power figures.”
Lovato has received awards for his jewelry at Santa Fe Indian Market, The Red Earth Show in Oklahoma, Eight Northern Pueblos Show and The Heard Show in Phoenix, AZ. He has been featured in New Mexico Magazine, August 2001, Native Peoples Magazine, January/February 2002 and Southwest Museum, Pasadena, CA in November 2004.