Robert and his family live on the vast Arizona desert part of the Navajo reservation, the same place Robert was born."I'm very proud of my Navajo culture," Robert says. Then he quietly sums up the essence of his life's work, "What's important is to keep up good work, do it right, and teach it to the young people."
Robert's father Herbert - who was 62 years old when Robert was born - is Deceased but was a vital force in his life. He was a Medicine Man and he recorded the Navajo traditional stories, songs, and prayers on cassette tapes so Robert can learn them as he drives long stretches to market his work.
"My mother and wife are both rug weavers," he comments, speaking of his sources of inspiration. He also relies on the Navajo Storyteller, Flute Player, Yeis, lizards, and sand painting symbols to fuel his creativity. With a positive tone he adds, "Right now I'm coming up with more designs."
The first piece of jewelry Robert made he traded for a turquoise necklace. Silversmithing for him began more as a hobby, a summer job, something sandwiched in between sessions of school. Because of the distance to schools from his reservation home in Arizona, he attended a variety of schools at Dilcon and Toyie, Arizona; and then Wingate and Farmington, New Mexico.
Robert not only features unusual original designs, his techniques are also unusual. "I don't do a lot of stamping," he says, referring to a standard silversmithing technique. "Mine is mostly overlay. I don't carry any patterns- I've got it all in my head. I sketch out the design - (using a scribe to etch it)- then cut out the silver top plate and then the bottom, so it looks like a picture frame. Then I solder the two pieces together."