Steve LaRance and his wife, Marian Denipah, are award-winning jewelers who work in the Tufa-cast tradition. Many of their wonderful pieces of jewelry are not only beautiful on the outside, but also have designs on the inside. Often, their pieces have symbolic meaning and stories, often relating to traditional Hopi themes such as rain, corn, and sun. In addition to traditional imagery, they work with traditional stones, turquoise and coral, as well as non-traditional, precious stones such as amethyst, peridot, and topaz.
Tufa-casting is considered to be one of the oldest techniques in Native American jewelry. The process involves the use of Tufa, a light stone made of compressed volcanic ash. The designs are hand-carved in the the Tufa mold, and molten silver is then poured into the mold to create the beautiful and unique Tufa-cast jewelry. Tufa molds commonly produce only a single piece of jewelry before the mold is unusable due to the destructive nature of molten metal.
Steve’s Hopi name is Wikivya with which he signs his pieces of jewelry along with the Sun symbol because he is of the Sun Clan. Wikivya means “Bringing back the Blessings of the successful hunt”.
Denipah is also a painter, and formed a quick bond with painting during high school. When an art teacher asked her to pose for a drawing class, she quickly agreed. When she was posing, however, she noticed that the students in the class seemed to be having a great deal of fun. So, she enrolled in an art class, taking to oil painting immediately.