Silversmith Perry Shorty, born in 1964, has been making jewelry since 1988, using traditional techniques to create jewelry in a style reminiscent of the 1940s. His work might be defined as a revival of the elegant classic jewelry of that period. Shorty makes most of the stamps used to imprint designs into the silver. “I try to keep things simple,” he says. “The old smiths didn’t have a lot of tools and materials to work with, and I like doing it their way.”
Twisted-wire designs and delicate scrolls, all made from silver wire, are meticulously hand-fashioned as is all of his work. His ideas come from studying early jewelry in museums and galleries, and at fairs where the Navajo people wear their old jewelry. Yet each piece is unique. “I often design a piece as I go along,” he explains, “not knowing exactly how the finished piece will look until it nears completion. On the other hand, I sometimes know just what I want from the start. I try to work with the stones — they dictate the style.”
This jewelry represents the use of many techniques: fabrication (squash blossoms and beads of necklace, bezels for stones and general assembly of pieces), tufa casting (naja and squash blossom stems of necklace); stamping (concha belt and pin, lower right), repousse (raised portions of concha belt), twisted wire designs (pin, bracelet, and border of large stone in naja), drawn wire designs (bracelets and pin), filing (indented rings around squash blossoms), and appliqué of small silver balls (bracelets, pin, and squash blossom petals).