Handmade Turquoise heishi is formed by hand on a wheel with diamond dust and formed under water. There are so few Santo Domingo jewelers who still hand drill each stone to create such beautiful pieces of jewelry. Joe and Mary were truly one of a kind artists.
Joe and Mary Calabaza's specialty was super fine Heishi necklaces. They learned to make fine heishi from their grandfather, Patricio Calabaza. “He taught us how to take a simple piece of turquoise, mold it, and create a beautiful necklace. We started making our necklaces with a little heavier texture from turquoise, lapis, shells, coral, and other various stones. As years progressed, and over a long period of time and patience, we learned how to grind our stones to a finer quality. Each piece of necklace has its own special unique quality behind it.We take a lot of pride and joy into our work.This type of art work has been passed down for many generations as we continue to pass it down to our children and grandchildren.It is important to us that we keep our art work alive, because not only does it bring us joy, but it is a part of who we are.”
Joe Calabaza passed away in 2016 and Mary in 2018. They were amazing people and are missed by all who knew them. Their son Joe Jr. and his wife Valerie carry on their tradition of excellent handmade heishi beads.