Inlaid Cottonwood Earrings
(click image to enlarge)
1 7/8" height x 1 1/2" width x 3/16" depth, circa 1870's. The back of each tab is slightly perfectly finished like a cabochon of turquoise--for stability allowing the perimeter to be thinned to a finer rolled edge.
Cottonwood, turquoise, abalone shell with piñon pitch used as an adhesive.
Original condition, collected some time close to 1906, they have remained in the same family through several generations.
Likely the most important earrings we have had the privilege to offer.
The rectangular cottonwood base was cut and shaped carefully, so that the perfectly rounded edges with their "soft" corners create a simple, elegant frame. The surface to be overlaid was then carved to a depth of approximately 1/16" of an inch, leaving an edge of uncarved original surface. This "frame" is also about 1/16" in width.
Each earring tab is pierced off center at the top with the distance closest to one side designed to be worn nearest the face. Natural turquoise pieces in deep hues of blue and green are precisely fitted together around a single rectangle of abalone shell. The piñon pitch "cement" used to adhere these materials to their wooden base has been mixed with red earth pigment, which further compliments the beauty of the quality materials chosen by the artist.
Hopi or possibly Zuni pueblo made