Artist Interview: Aaron Toadlena

Darryl Becenti

Posted on March 20, 2013

Recently Bonecutters sat down for an interview with Navajo silversmith Aaron Toadlena.

Bonecutters: Where were you born?

Aaron: I was born in Fort Defiance in 1958.

Bonecutters: Is that where you live now?

Aaron: No, I live in Sawmill, Arizona.

Bonecutters: Were you raised in Sawmill?

Aaron: No, I was raised in Tohlaki. I went to boarding school there. Then I went to boarding school in Tohatchi. While I was in boarding school in Tohatchi I met Delbert Gordon and David Reeves.

Bonecutters: Do you have any brothers or sisters?

Aaron: Yes, I have seven sisters and five brothers.

Bonecutters: Wow! That's a big family!

Aaron: Yes.

Bonecutters: How old were you when you started silversmithing?

Aaron: I was about twelve years old when I began to silversmith.

Bonecutters: Who taught you to silversmith?

Aaron: My brother Gordon taught me to silversmith.

Bonecutters: Have you always been a silversmith for a living?

Aaron: No, I have been a carpenter, a mechanic and I worked for the Navajo Housing Authority in my twenties. I also drove a semi for seven years in my thirties.

Bonecutters: What is your favorite jewelry to make?

Aaron: I like to make old style bracelets and squash blossoms.

Bonecutters: Are there any silversmiths that you have been inspired by?

Aaron: Yes, I like Perry Shorty's work alot.

Bonecutters: Are any of your children interested in silversmithing?

Aaron: No, but I have some grandkids that are showing an interest.

Bonecutters: Have you won any prizes for your work?

Aaron: Yes, I have entered pieces in the Gallup Ceremonial and have a number of first and second place ribbons.

Bonecutters: We really love your work here at Bonecutters and thank you for taking time to tell us a little about yourself!

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