As part of Turquoise Skies’ ongoing commitment to the preservation of the art of Native American jewelry making, the company has begun offering an internship for those interested in being mentored by other artists. This year the first intern, Zacharias Lovato, has begun working toward his goal of learning the art and techniques of making handcrafted jewelry.
Becoming a jewelry artist seems like a natural fit for Zacharias. Both of his parents create jewelry, so he was, as he puts it, “a little familiar with it but not too experienced.” While in middle school, he began making bracelets for friends, later moving on to making pendants to give to them.
Now sixteen, Zacharias attends the Native American Community Academy (NACA), a charter school in Albuquerque. The school looks to help their students build resumes that will prepare them for college and a career. As part of this focus, students are asked to find an internship that will offer them 80 hours of work each semester on Fridays from 1pm to 4pm. Zacharias chose Turquoise Skies for his intern experience.
One thing he likes about the internship is that it gives him time to focus on learning the skills without distractions. He began filling jobs on the company’s work board as it was a good way to learn the tools and machines. He’s also begun learning stamp work. When it comes to his own designs, he says he keeps a notebook of graph paper with him while at school and sketches out ideas in it to work on later. Being at the Co-Op has given him time to work on some ideas for pieces that he feels are unique. That’s why he enjoys cutting out designs from metals such as copper with a handsaw, using the cut-outs to create bracelets.
The experience of being a part of the Tskies Co-Op has been an enjoyable one for Zacharias. “Everybody’s been nice and they always enjoy a good laugh. They’re helpful, and happy to answer questions.” Though he isn’t certain that making jewelry will be his main career, he says it’s a good skill to have to fall back on and one he will definitely keep using. He’s also interested in computer science and learning coding for programs. Whatever path he chooses, Turquoise Skies wishes Zacharias the best of luck.