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One of the most sought after items of tourist silvei is the silver hell, which was seldom made and is therefore scarce. These were made onfy on ordei or request from a client or trader. Few silversmiths have ever experienced making this item.

Old Navajo Bell

Navajo Silver Bell

Navajo hell of the 1930's

Bell made for a Catholic Priest

A paper pattern is made to form a cone. The si^e can vary. The piece to form the body of the bell is made of silver sheet of at least IS gauge thickness. The silver is then stamped and bent in ihe shape of a cone and soldered, The shaping can be done over a ring mandrel.

Navajo hell of the 1930's c

A circle of (8 gauge silver, slightly larger than the top, is cut and domed. Two holes are drilled near the center of the dome. A piece of 16 gauge silver wire is bent into a "U" shape and soldered through the holes to form a ring to hold the clapper. The dome is then soldered onto the top of the cone and the edge filed smooth.

Zuni bell with carved turquoise future

The handle is made of a piece of 20 gauge silver sheet form ed around a small beiel man dret, fastened with iron hind iny wire and soldered.

jell of a 1940's Spanish lady

Zuni bell with carved turquoise future

The handle is made of a piece of 20 gauge silver sheet form ed around a small beiel man dret, fastened with iron hind iny wire and soldered.

jell of a 1940's Spanish lady

The clapper is made by melting brass scrap into a ball and soldering to it a 2-inch piece of 14 gauge brass wire. Bend the wire into a small loop near the hall. Bend the remaining length of wire into an "S" shaped link lor hanging inside the bell.

A small perforated silver disk is soldered 1/8 inch inside the top, or larger end of the handle, making the end of the handle form the bezel for the stone.

The small end is soldered to tlw center of the dome. The bell it pickled, the stone is set and the bell polished. The clapper is added last.


Small Spanish-style granular silver solder dispenser made from tvuo old brass shotgun shell case tops. It is fitted with a small hollow nozzle, notched for vibrating a fine stream of solder filings on filigree work. This is accomplished by holding the dispenser over the work that has been fluxed, and scraping across the notches with a fingernail. This samB type dispenser is still being used in Spain.

Granular soldering is a technique which was used on both silver and gold as early as 700 B.C. and which enabled the Greeks to make some of the world's most beautiful jewelry. This soldering method was brought to Spain by the Moors, to Mexico and the Navajos by the Spanish. This process of melting a silver peso with half as much cartridge brass, and pounding or filing off bits of the slug to use as solder solved a very important problem for the Navajo- the problem of soldering. Now that high quality, reliable sheet and wire silver is readily available, and because so much time and effort is required to produce homemade silver solder, the procedure is all but forgotten and in danger of being lost forever. In fact, most modern silversmiths have never even heard of it. It is illustrated here because it is an important step in the history of Indian jewelry making.

Indian Jewelry Making

This piece of filigree was constructed by first forming a 1/8-inch wide strip of 24 gauge silver around a wooden pattern and soldering the ends.

Filigree jewelry was made by only a few of the Indians of the northern New Mexico Pueblos, then only under the direction of the Spanish or Mexican silversmith. The great amount of time consuming work required to make it, and the small income derived from it, did not appeal to the silversmith. The fragility and lightness of weight did not appeal to the Indian. Filigree was truly of Spanish origin.

The design is made up of numerous pieces, alt of the same width and thickness, shaped into circles, ovals and curlicues. All the pieces are assembled inside the box. The flux is liberally applied, solder is sprinkled over the entire assembly and it is carefully heated and soldered.

Fluk Solder

To one ounce.of melted sterling silver scrap add" % ounce of brass scrapi. Use plenty of borax flux Beware of breathing the whtta zincoxide Fumes

A casfl slug ol silver solder

Tiny figure is dipped in thick fluK [Handy Flux) and laid face down on the asbestos block.

The figure is sprinkled wrth granular solder.

Figure is heated to melt flux and solder, coating back of figure with [email protected]

Figure is placed in position on base and reheated, welding iL um>Jy dip plate,

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