Essays on just about anything
Essays on just about anything
It's early. You can tell because there aren't a lot of cars along the streets as yet. But just wait a half hour and you'll not believe the volume of lookers out for the day hiking rides in jeeps to the back trails, hunting down their favorite t-shirt in the local tourist shops. Day traffic often arrives an hour or so from start times as tourists make their way from Flagstaff heading South or Phoenix making some tour of towns to their north. Though we're not particularly consumed by art or galleries, native american jewelery is a huge interest for us, and Navajo and Zuni craftsmen often have their work displayed in Sedona.
The first turquoise seems actually to have been imported from china and worked into pieces of silver by natives. It's an irony that these days, a buyer needs to be aware of the market being flooded by low quality pseudo-Navajo rip-offs from China. The habit of storing wealth in these pieces, and hawking them as necessary to pawn shops is still hugely important in this part of the world. It wasn't long until American and Mexican sources of Turquoise became important. These stones vary dramatically by source, and people with smarts about the stuff can call up the exact mine of quality stones from a good distance. Turquoise is like a living thing - dark spots emerge and color casts merge toward green with age and light. Old pawn is preferred, especially by Navajo, who seem to prefer patterns with lighter silver with dark, often etched, backgrounds. Turquoise is hard to work with since it's rather brittle and can easily disintegrate under force, or with heat from silver working. "Stabilizing" of soft stone has become popular with the infusion of resins that often give low grade substitutes the look of a poured composite of scraps, or the shiny glow of plastic. Increasingly, near eastern traders and new Americans have entered the retail business, often importing what looks like Native American jewelry from Chinese factories.
Route 89a winds it's way out of Sedona heading north through Oak Canyon along a 23 mile journey to Flagstaff -- one of the most delightful rides of our trip. About three miles north of town is Garland's Jewelry -- by far the best collection of native crafts that we found in the area. Garlands pieces are generally of the highest quality, and of their prices though likely very fair, are up there past what an old retired prof can handle every day.
That's why we were blown away to find the open outdoor market at the Oak Canyon Lookout further north along the road. We'd stopped for a quick rest break at the lookout with endless views down and back toward Sedona, when we found a long land of 20 or so native american booths where craftsmen were allowed to sell their wares in the open air. Stalls varied dramatically in the quality and style of work offered -- from rather simple pieces to truly exquisite pieces of unique design. Craftspersons varied in age from old sages to young students, at least some of whom were involved in junior college curriculae in jewelry design.