Artist Interview: Albert Jake

Darryl Becenti

Posted on June 14, 2013

Posted on March 26, 2013 Navajo silversmith Albert Jake recently talked with us at Bonecutters and we are excited to share with you!

Bonecutters: When and where were you born?

Albert: I was born in 1959 in Ramah, New Mexico at home.

Bonecutters: Did you grow up there?

Albert: I graduated from Tohatchi High School, after that I enrolled at Navajo Architectural in Fort Defiance, Arizona. I dropped out after a year, I didn’t like drafting.

Bonecutters: Well, for all the fans of your work, we are happy you didn’t pursue a career in architecture! After leaving architecture school what did you do?

Albert: I attended school in Ramah through the 6th grade. After 6th grade we moved to Springerville, Arizona where I went to school until 8th grade. Finally we moved to Pine Hill, New Mexico and I finished high school in 1978.

Bonecutters: Please tell us about your family.

Albert: I have one older brother, three older sisters, and three younger sisters.

Bonecutters: Does anyone else in your family silversmith?

Albert: Only one, my brother, who is silversmithing in Phoenix.

Bonecutters: Who taught you to silversmith?

Albert: Leaving high school I learned to sandpaint, and was also blessed to be able to draw, which gave me income for the next few years. I first started to learn about silversmithing by watching my sister Louise work.

Bonecutters: Rumor has it that there is a funny story behind about your start in the business…

Albert: I remember driving through Gallup and seeing a “Help Wanted”sign in Ortega’s. I stopped in and was interviewed. They asked me if I knew how to make jewelry and I told them yes, although I really didn’t know much at all…The guy said to be there Monday morning to work. I was excited to have a job and remember going to my sister’s house and borrowing(tho she didn’t know) three of her tools. I borrowed a hammer, a pair of pliers, and an insulated tweezer. I showed up for work Monday making sure that I was the first one there. The guy looked at me and said,”Where are your tools?!?” I said,”Right here in my pocket!” and showed him what I had. He couldn’t stop laughing but I said, “Give me some work and I’ll show you what I can do!’” After making friends with a few of of the workers there I was on my way. The owner was very pleased with what I had done and even asked me who who had done the work for me! I remained there for about three years, and yes, I did take those tools back to my sister that I had borrowed.

Bonecutters: That’s a good one- you don’t have to stretch the truth about your skills now! Do you have any other hobbies or passions?

Albert: I love anything outdoors.

Bonecutters: What is your favorite type of jewelry to make?

Albert: I have always enjoyed the challenge of making something turn out nice. I can do contemporary and old style, I love all the work I do.

Bonecutters: Have you won any awards for your work?

Albert: It has never been about the competition to me, I respect everyone’s work.

Bonecutters: How long have you been working with Eric?

Albert: I have been working with Eric at Bonecutters since November of 1989, and I hope to continue for many years to come.

Bonecutters: We definitely love your work and hope you keep working with us also!

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