Orville Tsinnie

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Orville is a member of the Navajo nation and lives with his family’ near Shiprock. New Mexico. He is an accomplished silversmith·, known for making heavy-gauge hand wrought jewelry. He has been making jewelry for more than thirty years and continues to create new designs. Orville held several interesting jobs prior to becoming a jewelry artist. While young, he had an opportunity to learn welding with his dad and an older brother.

Orville mentioned on one occasion, that he made spending money welding pipe into cattle gates for trucks hauling livestock. He used that earlier knowledge of working with metal to teach himself silversmithing at a later date. Once Orville decided to become a jeweler, his natural talent and attention to detail were nurtured by his sister who worked with silver. She provided tips and encouragement as he started on his new career. Orville’s jewelry was soon selling and as has been said, the rest is history. He participates in a number of fine shows and markets each year. Darlene, his wife, helps with the business. He is a devoted family man and his girls and their families frequently join him, especially at Indian Market in Santa Fe.

Orville’s work has earned many awards, and is also featured in publications about the art. He has been generous in sharing his knowledge among a select group of beginning silversmiths. The Navajo people are widely recognized among native people for haVing one of the oldest metalworking traditions on the continent. The continuity of this tradition is beautifully demonstrated in Orville’s outstanding jewelry creations. While decidedly contemporary, Orville’s jewelry is strongly rooted in traditional Navajo design. Large bold lines characterize much of his work, which is often embellished with a variety of stamped designs. His designs blend traditional and modern themes. He utilizes a variety of natural turquoise, jaspers, fossilized dinosaur bone, obsidian, lapis, and sugilite to highlight his silver work.

The level of craftsmanship in Orville’s work is superior. His designs are flawlessly executed, his soldering technique very clean, and his finishing and polishing meticulous. This careful attention to detail sets Orville’s Jewelry apart from many others, and reveals the pride he takes in his work, from a simple understated ring to a lavish and ornate necklace. All of his work is marked with his signature and the name of his hometown, Shiprock. New Mexico. He hallmarks many of his larger pieces with a stamp of the Shiprock formation itself.

Orville Tsinnie is a classic Navajo artist. His work is fresh and innovative, yet reflects the strength and Importance of the tradition of which he is a continuing part. He has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Indian Arts and Crafts Association, an honor that brings well-deserved recognition to this fine American Indian artist.

Deceased May 23, 2017

Find Orville’s work here.