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Watson Honanie

Born on the south rim of the Grand Canyon in 1953, Watson Honanie was the 10th of 11 children. His mother is of the Bear Clan. Among the Hopi, the bear is the leader of the animals and birth within this clan carries with it responsibility of leadership within the village. While on the reservation Watson was active in village affairs including the PTA, as chairperson for the Headstart Program, and for 2 years he acted as president of the local school board. He has been instructing Hopi youth for over ten years as coach for cross-country, basketball, flag football and softball. He is also a certified official for varsity football and basketball and remains active in his Kachina society.

Watson Honanie creates jewelry of gold and silver overlay portraying Hopi culture and ceremonial life. Encouraged by two uncles, both of who were associated with the Hopi Silvercraft Guild Watson began making jewelry at an early age. "They (Porter Timeche and the late Fred Kabotie), gave me scraps of silver so I could make small pieces, mostly earrings." Honanie says. Watson's uncle, Fred Kabotie, was manager of the Hopi Art & Crafts Guild at the time he first began his apprenticeship as silversmith. After two years he broke from the exclusive marketing agreement at the Guild to sell on his own. By that time, Watson had begun winning awards for his craftsmanship and he knew he could do better without the guild limitations.

Watson also learned the overlay technique from his brother Phillip. "In 1979, when the cost of silver got so high - 48 to $50 an ounce - I went back to using scraps, but not for making jewelry. I made small Kachinas, about four inches tall, using the lost wax process and the melted silver scraps. I made these miniature Kachinas for about a year, then returned to jewelry.

In 1993 Watson entered a concho belt in competition at the Santa Fe Indian Market. This was the largest single project he had attempted. He was pleasantly surprised with the awards "Best of Class," "Best of Class Division," and, according to Watson, he was a single vote short of winning "Best of Show." Sale of that concho belt on opening day of Market for $12,000 has remained one of the most memorable events in his life.

Watson employs free hand drawing in the creation of his jewelry figures. Many of his subjects are similar, but no two rings, pendants or necklaces are ever the same. He considers his work a hobby, yet he is dedicated to 8 hour shifts, often working well past midnight. The hardest thing about making jewelry, he says, is deciding what to make and what designs to use. Among Watson's most popular figures are the sun, spider woman, corn, animals, (bear, mountain lions, deer, elk, turtle, and wolves), and the eagle. Recent designs have incorporated http://www.tannerchaney.com/tc/images of ancient rock art drawings (petroglyphs) found throughout northern Arizona. To avoid being copied, he is constantly innovating with textured surfaces. Watson's hallmark consists of a bear paw, symbolic of his clan and friendship marks.