Meet Darryl Dean Begay Navajo Silversmith

Meet Darryl Dean Begay a Navajo a well known Navajo silversmith living the the Gallup New Mexico area with his wife and kids. Darryl is known for his work with Tufa casting. In this video he introduces himself and his work.

Hi, My Name is Darryl Dean Begay, I’m a Navajo jeweler from Roundrock Arizona. My clans are Yei Dine’ Ta’chii’nii born for Ta’neeszahnii and my maternal grandfathers are Totsohnii and paternal grandfathers are the ‘Ashiihi. I have been a silversmith for 16 years and my primary style is tufacast technique. My grandparents were Mary Ann Begay and Whitehair Begay, they were both medicine man and woman, they performed the blessing way ceremony. They were the ones that taught me how to work the stones, the names of them and they performed their blessings on me. My uncle Bobby Begay is the one that really mentored me and showed my how to work the tufa stone. I still talk to him to this day and ask for his advice and how to go about things.

The tufacast technique is actually one of the oldest techniques, it has been around since the 1800s. The early silversmiths had no jewelry store and if we wanted fabricated silver sheets we had to pound it out ourselves. One of the ways we did it was by using coins, American silver coins. Tufa is readily available, it’s a volcanic ash and you can make molds out of it. I’ll show you a little process of how my ancestors use tufa for casting.

I draw from my experience from my Native culture, my Navajo culture. Early on in my career I did participate in a lot of Navajo and Native American church ceremonies where got a lot of my inspiration from the culture and ideas from the philosophy of Native life. My wife is a Christian and slowly I became more active in the Church and now I can say I am a full Christian, so now I am drawing a lot of strength and ideas from God. I have been experimenting and refining my technique for 16 years. I use a lot of high grade turquoise, coral, sugilite. One of the things I would like to express is that I will be doing more work that involves inlay with these precious stones. I know that I have customers worldwide now, it is an amazing opportunity to be invited museums, shows and have been come to my studios.

Shall we do some casting?